Oakland to Lift Ban on Pinball Machines

Oakland to Lift Ban on Pinball Machines

Oakland, California will finally lift a city-wide ban on pinball that has been in place since the 1930s.

Although the law was rarely, if ever, enforced, the ban was on the books for nearly 80 years. Pinball was classified as a form of gambling in the 30’s because it cost five cents to play and was considered a “game of chance,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Winners would get cash payouts from bartenders or store owners if their ball went in the hole.

Oakland Councilman Noel Gallo told the Chronicle the lifting of the ban on pinball does not mean the city is ready to legalize other forms of gambling.

“What you see are poor people lined up on payday with their checks,” he said. “We’re not going to tolerate casinos in Oakland. But pinball – pinball, I have no problem with.”

Other cities still have a pinball ban on the books, and unlike Oakland, have occasionally enforced the law. Ironically, the ban is still in place in Alameda, California, where the Pacific Pinball Museum is located. The museum had to register as a nonprofit and could not install coin slots on individual games. San Francisco businesses that want to have pinball machines need to first get a permit from the city entertainment commission. 

“I think it’s great. People love pinball,” local cook Adrien Smadbeck told the Chronicle. “It’s different than a video game. With pinball, I see a lot of people socializing and making friends. I’m glad the city is doing this.”