It’s Legal To Play Pinball In Oakland For The First Time In 80 Years

This pleases the Pinball Wizard.

This pleases the Pinball Wizard.

Flex those wrists and get your shoulders rolling, folks: It’s legal to play pinball in Oakland, Calif. for the first time in 80 years.

Though it was technically illegal this whole time, anyone playing pinball in the city might not have known they were breaking the law by flipping balls around.

As Wired explains, pinball was originally banned in the 1930s because it was seen as a method of gambling.

There were no flippers to help players back then, just whatever nudges you could make to the table to send the ball down the path to money.

“There was this stigma for what pinball was,” the president of the International Flipper Pinball Association tells Wired, “which stuck around as it evolved into an amusement machine, with electricity and the opportunity to control the ball via flippers.”

His father co-founded the association, and helped destigmatize the game in the 1970s, leading to several bans getting lifted in cities like New York City.

But no one really noticed in Oakland until the Association tried to have a tournament and got shut down. Its members vowed to reverse the law.

“It might have even been about the noise of the business, just based on the machines and the people there,” the Association’s president says. “If you want to shut someone down, find a way to make what they’re doing illegal. So they found this old rule that didn’t allow people to operate pinball machines that way.”

The group was successful in its fight, and the city council lifted the pinball ban last month.

To celebrate, a local RadioShack is hosting a monthlong pinball tournament. Any player who can rack up more than 50 million points on its machine will compete for the table itself. And then have to dress like Elton John in The Who’s Tommy because come on! So cool.

Huge Tournament Celebrates End of Oakland’s Bizarre 80-Year Pinball Ban [Wired]

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