Oakland To Finally Legalize Pinball After 80-Year Ban

Pinball wizards in Oakland, California, will finally be able to play the game without breaking the law, but why was there even a ban to begin with?

Oakland To Finally Legalize Pinball After 80-Year Ban
Flickr / Curtis Perry

After 80 long years, pinball wizards in Oakland, California, might finally be able paddle the small silver ball without breaking the law. (Via Flickr / Curtis Perry)

Oakland officials say the city is planning to lift its ban on Pinball machines, an ordinance that's been in place for the last eight decades.

So, you're probably wondering, why on earth would there even be a pinball ban in the first place?

The short answer: gambling. It turns out the original version was more of a game of chance than the arcade-driven bells and whistles we've become familiar with. (Via YouTube / Lord Karnage

Back in the 1930s, pinball machines, dubbed "payout machines" at the time, were installed in bars and used for gambling. Lucky winners were paid out in cold hard cash from the establishment. (Via Flickr / ringfrenzy)

The player would simply pop the silver ball up the shoot and hope for a big winner because, as seen here, there were no flippers, so the only real skill was how hard or soft to hit the ball. The rest was up to the gambling gods. (Via YouTube / Mike hasanov)

Time quotes RePlay Magazine publisher Eddie Adlum saying, "The law looked at it as a gambling device. ... Pay-outs started out legally in many states and eventually ended up being operated mostly illegally in places where the police would look the other way, such as New Orleans."

According to KPIX, Oakland followed the trend of banning the games, but, in reality, hasn't really enforced the law since around the 1940s. So, why the sudden change?

It reportedly has a lot to do with "sweepstakes cafes," — basically slot machines — which had been balled together with the same legal restrictions as pinball machines. That's what brought the pinball ban to the Oakland City Council's attention. (Via YouTube / InternetSweepstakes1's channel)

"When city leaders looked at laws on the books they hoped would kick out the cafes, they saw pinball was illegal. Now, there's a push to abolish one law and maybe create another to keep internet cafes outside of city limits." (Via KPIX)

The City of Oakland is set to consider removing the ban on pinball Tuesday and will move forward in July if the measure passes.