For 80 years, pinball, a popular arcade staple, has been banned from Oakland, California, but the city reversed the law this week.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the game was banned in thousands of cities in the United States in the 1930s because it was considered a form of gambling.
“It had the illusion of skill but was mostly a game of chance, sort of like the coin toss at the county fair,” Michael Schiess, director of the Pacific Pinball Museum, told the newspaper. “All you had to do was pull the plunger back and see what happened next.”
This was before the flippers were added to the game, which increased the skillful element.
Oakland City Council members agreed at a meeting Tuesday that the law criminalizing pinball machines should be lifted. For the last few decades, it was rarely enforced, according to the Chronicle.
An administrator with the city called the provision that prohibited pinball “outdated,” as it was amending other gambling laws in the city.
Though Oakland has updated its laws, some cities still have restrictions on the arcade game. Alameda, California, where the Pacific Pinball Museum is located, for example, required it to remove the coin slots from its machines. San Francisco also requires permits be obtained by pinball machine owners. Then there’s Beacon, New York, where the ban still stands and where an arcade museum was shut down a few years ago for having this specific game.
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