Town That Outlaws Pinball Shuts Down Arcade

As if it’s not tough enough for an arcade to make a go of it in 2010, the owner of Beacon, NY’s Retro Arcade Museum has to battle town laws that ban pinball. After a year and a half in business, officials shut down the pinball palace.

CNN reports Beacon’s law is a relic from the middle 20th century, when several major cities outlawed the game, believing pinball arcades were fronts for mob operations.

The town governor has spoken out in the arcade owner’s favor and the city council is working on legislation to tweak the law and let the arcade re-open legally.

Until then, in a parallel, imaginary universe, the mob fumes, bitter that its coke funds are clogged up and unable to be laundered through the operation.

Play pinball here, go to jail [CNN via Game Informer]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

    Cue Kevin Bacon.

  2. Captain Walker says:


    (knew I should have chosen “Pinball Wizard” instead of Captain Walker)

  3. richco says:


  4. dolemite says:

    NY: the place where they pay people to watch trash on the side of the street to make sure no one steals it, and pay people to shut down legit small business owners because apparently there is no real crime in the state.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Have you seen the ads for the new show where the guys drive around picking up scrap metal? I wonder how that will work.

  5. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    Can I still dance?

  6. Christopher Wilson says:

    Heres the mayor’s response to this:

  7. Dustbunny says:

    I make my own pinball machines at home.That is all, carry on.

  8. Urgleglurk says:

    How…1950’s…of them. Don’t they have anything better to do in the middle of a major recession than to shut down a place like that?

  9. Kavatar says:

    I figured the law came from the Satanic scare of the 1980s due to pinball arcades being popular hangouts for wizards.

    • JoeTheDragon says:

      No in the past bingo pinballs where big and people played them for cash in a under the table way.

  10. avenger339 says:

    I’m going to say Beacon shut this down because they wanted to make sure that absolutely nothing interesting at all exists in the Tri-State area.

  11. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    I wonder how old these ordinances are.

    I grew up in the 70’s & 80’s and our social lives seemed to revolve around going to the arcade. There was a lot of good and bad stuff going on there and a lot of parents didn’t want their kids to par take (smoking pot, drinking, etc.). It also corresponded with the rise of D&D and the idiotic fear of the era against witchcraft and Satan worshiping. I’m actually not surprised that pinball was banned in certain locations.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      From the 2nd paragraph:
      “CNN reports Beacon’s law is a relic from the middle 20th century…”

  12. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    After following the link of Christopher Wilson above, I saw the Mayor’s response. Here is it in part:

    “I understand the frustration people are all feeling about the retro-arcade business but take a step back and think for one minute. The CNN story was bogus and misguided. It totally hyped the emotional side of the story and left out the real reasons for the closure and challenges in re-writing the law.

    The issue is noise and only noise. The business next to the arcade and the residents above it had a legitimate complaint about NOISE. The owner changed his business model from one that was legal to one that was not permitted. A complaint was filed with the building department. Should the City of Beacon ignore the complaints from its businesses and residents and allow an illegal operation to continue? Which laws do you suggest we enforce and which shall we ignore? There are always two sides to a story and two groups ready to complain.”

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      I like how the CNN video includes a clip of the mayor, so that you think you got all of the info, but left out the part explaining that it was a noise complaint. Yeah, that’ll make the mayor eager to help this guy out: make them look like idiots on the national news.

    • Shadowfire says:

      During the daytime, a noise complaint is almost never legitimate. Still calling shenanigans.

      • PsiCop says:

        +1. The claim about “noise” being the cause, is not cdedible. It smacks of, “Holy crap! CNN just made us look like buffoons! We better cook up another excuse real quick!” And they did that, they just forgot that the excuse they cook up should be a reasonable one.

        • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

          So if they produce the complaints from a neighbor, it will be part of the conspiracy to make CNN look idiots?

          • YOXIM says:

            No conspiracy necessary. CNN does this just fine on their own.

          • PsiCop says:

            We’re talking daytime noise complaints. It’s absurd to think they shut down a business due to daytime noise complaints. I can think of lots of businesses that are noisy during daytime. And I suppose someone has complained about their noise, now and again. But having enforcement action taken over them?

            No. I do not believe it. Not for one moment. I’m not that stupid.

  13. pantheonoutcast says:

    Ah, New York…my home. Pinball? Too loud! Too many loiterers! Criminal element!

    But: The gang of pimply faced morons who speed past my building every night in their Honda Civic “race cars” outfitted with the latest in high performance technology – namely, what sounds like a broken exhaust manifold and the worlds’ ugliest paintjob? Why, that’s just so soothing! My neighbor who apparently collects angry dogs and stores them in his front yard so that the entire neighborhood may bask in their mellifluous melodies? Zen-like. The people two buildings over who hold nightly 50-person Salsa marathons using what is presumably one very long, six hour song, or the same song on endless repeat with their windows open, which inevitably spills out onto the street at 3 AM? A cultural gem. The roving gangs of teens who stand on the corner for hours at a stretch playing their phones’ ringtones over and over again, pausing only briefly to toss glass bottles into the street? Must be a figment of my imagination.

  14. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    This may be a little off topic, but is there anyone in the NJ/East PA region who saw an (late night) infomercial for this guy who runs a pinball/arcade repair and sales business? The production values were pretty horrible, featured some pause cuts, had “dancers”, and I seem to remember the guy in them bore a slight resemblance to Ricky Jay. Does anyone know of what I speak? I only ask because I might be in the market for a Pinbot or Fun House pinball machine soon, because I will prolly be a bachelor for life.

  15. Liam Kinkaid says:

    Trouble, oh we got trouble,
    Right here in Beacon City!
    With a capital “T”
    That rhymes with “P”
    And that stands for Pinball.

  16. smo0 says:

    We have a pinball “museum” down the street from my house… I would cry if it closed…

  17. PsiCop says:

    Hooray for moral panics! What fun it is to have to clean up mid-20th century parochiality.

  18. UnicornMaster says:

    Looks like someone forgot to grease some politicians.

  19. skapig says:

    Interesting that officials would shut it down. Someone must have a weird gripe against the place. There are tons of laws that stay in the books over time that most forget about since they stop being enforced (until someone with a little bit of power and a personal gripe decides to dig them up).

  20. duncanblackthorne says:

    It’s true. I used to work in the arcade game industry, and there are in some place laws still on the books that prohibit pinball machines completely because they’re “gambling devices” — because they used to be. In some places pinballs are legal, but they can’t display the number of credits on the machine or pay off in free games (credits), again because that’s considered a “gambling device”. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if there are some tiny backwaters where the local sherriff would show up with a fireaxe and chop the machine to bits like they used to do in the old days.

  21. Finrod says:

    From what I’ve read, back in the 1930s (the biggest year ever for pinball? not 1991, 1932), pinball machines often came with the capability to store hundreds of credits. What owners would do is go around to their machines, and for players that had ran up a bunch of credits, they’d take off credits and hand them cash. Pinball machines were really primitive back then (flippers weren’t invented until 1947) so the skill levels were not really the same as now, so many places saw pinball machines just as gambling devices. New York City banned pinball in 1942 until 1976, when Roger Sharpe famously made a skill shot on a machine he’d never played in front of the New York City Council.

    Nowadays pinball machines come with a credit maximum of 10, can be set to never award free games or extra balls, and usually have a statement on them: FOR AMUSEMENT ONLY

    Popular Mechanics wrote up an interesting slice of pinball history a while back:

  22. Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

    I wish there were still a place around here to play pinball. Many of my childhood days were spent shoveling quarter after quarter into them, all to hear the sweet sound of that knock that meant “REPLAY!”

  23. FrugalFreak says:

    Blame it on Joe Walsh, Somebody saw this 80’s video