Ever since I was a young boy, I played the silver ball.Eric Bangeman
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Decades ago, pinball was deemed a gambler’s “game of chance,” and therefore banned in major cities across the United States—sometimes resulting in Prohibition-style raids.
But a lot has changed over time, and most cities eventually lifted their bans, forgot about them, or didn’t enforce them.
But 61 years after the Kokomo Tribune editorialized in support of Kokomo, Indiana’s ban—”Wives whose husbands have gambled away their entire pay checks on pinballs have complained against the devices”—the rural city of about 60,000 people north of Indianapolis is moving Monday to wipe the ordinance from the books.
According to the Kokomo Tribune:
The ordinance gave the Kokomo Police Department the power to impound any machines still operating.
It was deemed “unlawful for any person to operate, permit to be operated, or permit to be offered or available for operation, any pinball machine,” as written in city records.
A story published in the July 26, 1955 edition of the Kokomo Tribune said the machines “tend against peace and good order, encourage vice and immorality and constitute a nuisance.”
At the time, the possible punishment to own or operate a pinball machine was a fine of up to $1,000 and six months in jail.
There are no existing records of the ordinance being enforced in Kokomo.
Even Kokomo didn’t really take the law seriously, as many local establishments offer the arcade game.
But like many cities with crazy laws still on the books, Kokomo is moving to eradicate those. Kokomo is far behind New York when it comes to pinball, though. New York removed its pinball ban in 1976.
“My wife and I have always dreamed that our son would grow up in a community in which pinball was legal,” Kokomo councilman Steve Whikehart quipped to the Kokomo Tribune. “Now that dream will become a reality.”
According to the Kokomo Perspective, there’s still an odd child-protection ordinance on the books in Kokomo.
If a refrigerator is left unattended for more than 15 minutes, it must be “checked for the presence of persons therein.”