Indiana

61-Year-Old Ban on Pinball in Indiana City Set to be Repealed

In 1955, pinball machines were considered "against peace and good order, encourage vice and immorality and constitute a nuisance."

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Such a supple wrist…
Jonathan Kellenberg/Flickr

An long-unenforced "dead law" banning pinball machines in Kokomo, Indiana, is set to be officially repealed by the city council next week, the Kokomo Tribune reports.

While the legalization of pinball could be seen as an odd curiosity, the move is actually part of a larger push by the city to modernize and streamline its municipal code.

Kokomo's pinball ban came about in 1955, when the mayor declared the machines to be "games of chance" that "tend against peace and good order, encourage vice and immorality and constitute a nuisance." The Tribune also cites an editorial from the time that warned "Wives whose husbands have gambled away their entire pay checks on pinballs have complained against the devices."

Punishment for possessing or operating a pinball machine in Kokomo entailed up to a $300 fine and six months in jail.

My Reason colleagues Scott Shackford and Jesse Walker have written about the moral panics behind pinball and video game arcade bans in other cities. Walker's feature story "A Short History of Game Panics" from Reason magazine's June 2014 issue is an essential view into the minds of vice-fearing moral guardians who take their crusades into the realm of criminal law.

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