Indiana Town Will No Longer Jail You for Playing Pinball

A 61-year ban on the game was just lifted in Kokomo
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2016 1:17 PM CST
Indiana Town Will No Longer Jail You for Playing Pinball
A man plays pinball in Virginia, where, presumably, it's been legal to do so for longer than two days.   (Don Petersen/The Roanoke Times via AP)

"My wife and I have always dreamed our son will live in a place where pinball is legal," Steve Whikehart tells Fox 59. "After 40 years that dream will become a reality." The city council member sponsored legislation, signed into law Tuesday, that reversed a 61-year-old ban on pinball in Kokomo, Indiana, the Wall Street Journal reports. Back in 1955, the Kokomo city council determined pinball was gambling because it relied on chance, not skill, and banned it. According to news accounts at the time, pinball games "tend against peace and good order, encourage vice and immorality, and constitute a nuisance," and wives were upset their husbands were spending all their money on pinball. Anyone found violating the ban faced jail time and a fine.

But in 2016, most people didn't know about the ban and officials couldn't find any records of people being cited for breaking it. “I’ve been serving beer and wine legally out of my record store, and having illegal pinball games,” says Mike Wilson, owner of American Dream Hi-Fi. “It’s funny.” On Tuesday, Mayor Greg Goodnight signed the new pinball-legalizing bill into law on top of one of American Dream's pinball machines, the Kokomo Tribune reports. "I was reflecting that ever since I was a young boy, I played the silver ball," Goodnight paraphrased. "From Southway up to Morgan Street, I think I played them all." Police chief Rob Baker, the only person in city hall who hadn't violated the ban, then got the first game. (A major California city recently made pinball legal after an 80-year ban.)

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