17th-century ‘underground casino’ discovered by archeologists in Russia (PHOTOS)

Gamblers in 17th-century Russia came up with creative ways to avoid punishment during a strict state-imposed gaming ban, a new discovery shows.

Tsar Alexis (ruled 1645-1676) made card games and other forms of gambling punishable by flogging and cutting the players’ ears off. So, gaming enthusiasts had to invent elaborate tricks to avoid getting caught in the act. One such unorthodox method was unearthed by archeologists in Pskov Region, roughly 620km west of Moscow.

Researchers found a wooden bench, which had the layout of alquerque – a board game similar to chess, which was also banned – carved onto it.

In the event of a raid on the “underground casino,” the players could quickly hide the game by simply sitting on the bench or covering it up with a rag or cloth, the region’s Archeological Center said, adding that many pieces of the game were found last year.

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