Why the City of Oakland Finally Legalized Pinball Machines

Why the City of Oakland Finally Legalized Pinball Machines

Everyone has tried it at some point. The authorities started turning a blind eye years ago, but it wasn’t officially legalized until the summer of 2014. Finally, after more than 80 years of illegitimacy, the City of Oakland has legalized…pinball machines.

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Pinball’s design history can help explain why it was illegal for so long. The game used to be a bit more like billiards–you’d shoot the ball onto the play field with a pool stick. In the 1860s, the pool cue turned into a spring-loaded plunger, that you’d pull and release to launch the ball. The game was made small, to fit on top of a counter at a bar or drugstore, and it looked like a simple wooden box, with no electricity, flashy art, or bright colors.

Why the City of Oakland Finally Legalized Pinball MachinesEXPAND

[Early Pinball game. Photo courtesy of Pacific Pinball Museum]

Winning an early pinball game was much more about luck than skill, since there were no buttons to activate flippers on the sides. You basically had one action: pull the plunger and watch the ball go. Without the flippers, pinball was a truly a game of chance—perfect for gambling.

Why the City of Oakland Finally Legalized Pinball Machines

[Early pinball game without flippers and (bonus!) taxidermied fox. Credit: Huhu]

The ball would shoot up the right side of the board and onto the play field where there were little pockets that would catch it, and each pocket was stamped with a different point value. To add an extra challenge to the game, pins (which looked like little nails) were hammered into the board to obstruct the ball’s way into the pockets. Thats where the “pin” in pinball came from.

The first pinball games weren’t coin operated. Bars would buy one and they would rent it out to people who wanted to play it and gamble with it, like a card table. By the 1930s pinball gameswere coin operated and you’d find them all over the place, like in bars and drugstores, where you could win a cigar or a pack of gum with your spare change.

Then the owners of pinball machines started giving out cash prizes which solidified pinball’s status as a gambling machine. It’s around this point that pinball became electric, with lights and buzzers and bumpers that the ball could bounce off of to get more points.

Everyone has tried it at some point. The authorities started turning a blind eye years ago, but it wasn’t officially legalized until the summer of 2014. Finally, after more than 80 years of illegitimacy, the City of Oakland has legalized…pinball machines.

Source: gizmodo.com

Never realised they were made illegal in some parts of the world and that they were used for gambling purposes, I suppose it proves its possible to gamble on anything

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