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Apparently, Pinball Machines Have Been Banned In Oakland For The Last Eighty Years

Today, we're going to talk about something a little different - we're going to talk about the impact the law tends to have on gaming. 

See, aparently, the City of Oakland is just this year considering lifting an eighty-year ban on pinball machines. I know, I'm a little surprised too. I suppose City officials were worried about the corrupting influence involved with bouncing a little metal ball around an obstacle course?

Nah, it's nothing as goofy as that. Turns out, back when the ban was put into place, pinball machines looked very different from how they look today - and they were also viewed very differently. Pinball machines back then were flipperless, and were actually deemed a form of gambling.See, they were viewed as games of chance which required little skill on the part of the player, and offered cash payouts from the proprietor. This wasn't just limited to Oakland, either - this was a nation-wide thing. Pinball machines were banned for decades, until demonstrations in the 70s showed the world that they were games of skill - not gambling. 

For some reason, Oakland apparently didn't get the memo. This led to an amusingly archaic legal environment, one which Oakland's Public Safety committee believes is long overdue for an update. The push to criminalize pinball machines - while referred to as committee head Noel Gallo as "a great idea" - is actually secondary to the city's efforts to update its overall gambling laws. After all, the original law hasn't even been enforced since the 40s. it's not like pinball machines are an uncommon sight in Oakland - quite the contrary.

"I think it's great. People love pinball," said Adrien Smadbeck, a cook at Hi-Life, a pub which hosts 13 pinball machines and a women's pinball league. "With pinball, I see a lot of people socializing and making friends. I'm glad the city is doing this."

It's kind of interesting that it's taken this long for the law to catch up, no? Maybe that could be said to reflect at least a little bit on how the law adapts to  technology - which is to say, very very slowly.

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Nicholas Greene
Nick's Games Haven
InventorSpot.com
Follow me on Twitter @OmniscientSpork

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