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A billiard, pool or snooker hall (or parlour, room or club; sometimes compounded as poolhall, poolroom, etc.) is a place where people get together for playing cue sports such as pool, snooker or carom billiards. Such establishments commonly serve alcohol and often have arcade games, slot machines, card games, darts, foosball and other games. Some billiard halls may be combined or integrated with a bowling alley.
Pool and billiards developed as in indoor option for games such as croquet which were played on lawns. Dedicated venues began to appear in the 19th century, and by the early 20th century, billiard and pool halls were common in many countries; in 1915 there were 830 in Chicago.
In North America in the 1950s and 1960s especially, pool halls in particular were perceived as a social ill by many, and laws were passed in many jurisdictions to set age limits at pool halls and restrict gambling and the sale of alcohol. The song "Trouble" in the 1957 hit musical The Music Man lampooned this prejudice (even contrasting carom billiards, requiring "judgement, brains, and maturity", versus pool, said to be a gateway to laziness, gambling, smoking and philandering). Public perception had become less critical by the 1990s.
By the 2010s, with competition from a growing number of competing entertainment venues, as well as the availability of online gambling, revenue from the operation of billiard halls in the United States had declined significantly. In Korea, on the other hand, the pool halls are becoming more popular after years of decline.
In popular culture
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Pool halls feature prominently in the novel and film The Hustler, and their sequel book and movie, The Color of Money, as well as other pool films such as Poolhall Junkies and Shooting Gallery. The historic depth of American pool halls and their subculture was touched on in The Color of Money in various ways, including dialogue extolling the virtues of particular landmark venues, the disappointment at discovering one such hall's closure, a comment that regulars at a well-known hall "never leave the street" it is on, and the return of a pool hall janitor in The Hustler as a hall owner decades later in the sequel.
- "Halls Ushered in the Age of Plastic". Slate, by Roman Mars.
- Chidley, Joe; Nemeth, Mary (March 24, 1995). "Pool Gets Respect". Maclean's. Toronto: Rogers Communications. ISSN 0024-9262. Archived from the original on October 14, 2012. This tertiary source reuses information from other sources but does not name them.
- "Images of the American pool hall show a man’s world of escape and vice". Timeline, Rian Dundon, Jan 30, 2017
- Willson, Meredith (writer) (1962) . The Music Man (stage (film adaptation, VHS/DVD)). Frank Productions, Inc., et al., producers (Warner Bros. Pictures).
- "Pool & Billiard Halls - US Market Research Report". Ibis World, August 2017
- "Changing times for Philly's billiards scene". Philly Voice, Brandon Baker, February 17, 2015
- "After years of decline, billiards on the rebound". Karea JoohgAng Daily. Aug 14,2013