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It’s Not Illegal to Play Pinball in Oakland… Anymore

All the people in jail for pinball offenses are going to be pissed.


Hey, youth of the 1970s! Your favorite, oft-demonized recreational activity that doesn’t actually hurt anyone is finally going to lose its ridiculous illegal status so that you can go about your business in peace: Oakland is lifting its ban on pinball! …You knew I meant pinball, right?

In a long standing tradition of hating new things and making dumb laws about them, many cities all the way back in the 1930s outlawed pinball. Why? It’s a game of chance that takes no actual skill! While high score holders and The Who enthusiasts around the world may disagree, back when the laws came about, the machines actually lacked flippers and were used for gambling instead of proving your superiority to your middle school class. (Or getting you beat up, depending on your local social structure.)

Then, the law remained on the books, either because cleaning up old, outdated laws is hard or parents didn’t want their kids wasting all their time on that newfangled contraption. Either way, anti-pinball laws in other cities like Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles were lifted in the `70s due to demonstrations that showed it was actually a game of skill. I wonder what the sudden fascination was with a game of flashing lights and sounds in the `70s?

Recently, lawmakers in Oakland, CA came across their own pinball ban while reforming the city’s gambling laws and decided it had finally run out of credits, because they pretty much hadn’t even realized it existed in the first place. Now that pinball is officially legal, will we all be able to handle our new gaming freedom with responsibility, or will society degenerate into a lawless, neon gambling wasteland? The choice is yours, people of Oakland.

(via UPROXX, image via Donald Bell)

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Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct Geekosystem (RIP), and then at The Mary Sue starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at Smash Bros.