August 2, 2011 / 1:07 PM / 8 years ago

Could skittles save the great British pub?

A woman reacts to the camera at the Campaign For Real Ale Great British Beer Festival at Earls Court in London, August 2, 2011. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - British pubs — closing at record rates in a harsh economic climate — could be saved by reviving traditional games like skittles and darts, according to a report on Tuesday.

Such games have disappeared from many pubs in recent years in favor of gaming machines which charge customers to play, and from which landlords can take a cut, the report said.

But bringing them back could reverse the steady decline over the past five years in the number of young adults regularly visiting their local pubs, it added.

The report, by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), said the number of people aged 18 to 24 who are regular pub-goers, going there at least once a week, has dropped by as much as 11 percent since 2006.

But in a CAMRA survey, 49 percent of them who had heard of a traditional pub game suggested they would very likely or quite likely visit pubs more often if free traditional games were made available.

“Pubs have had it tough in recent years with high increases in beer tax, below-cost pricing in supermarkets, the introduction of the smoking ban, and of course Britain’s economic problems all playing a part in a disturbing 25 pubs closing every week,” said CAMRA National Chairman Colin Valentine.

“The research highlighted that one fun way of attracting 18-24 year olds back into pubs could be to offer free traditional pub games,” he added.

“These games are part of our heritage and can be enjoyed by large numbers of people at no cost. This means more money can be spent at the bar which helps pubs and breweries.”

Reporting by James Browning, editing by Paul Casciato

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