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Oakland Moves To Flip Decades-Old Pinball Ban And Work On New Gambling Laws

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Pacific Pinball Museum

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OAKLAND (CBS SF) — The Oakland City Council’s public safety committee is proposing a game-changing move that would reverse the city’s decades-old ban on pinball machines, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

It’s a potential boom for Oakland’s already flourishing nightlife and also a chance to reevaluate other gambling practices across the city.

Considered a means for gambling, a ban on pinball machines became a nationwide trend during Prohibition. Oakland followed suit, outlawing the machines in the the 1930s, no longer allowing winners to receive cash payouts from a bartender or store owner.

Police confiscated many of the pinball machines and sent them to Alameda, where pinball was also banned, but laws were less enforced.

Pinball machines continue to be illegal in Alameda, but the Pacific Pinball Museum — which features over 90 classic machines for the public — registered as a nonprofit and removed the coin slots to comply with the law.

Even though Oakland’s pinball ban hasn’t been enforced since the World War II era, Councilman and Public Safety Committee Chairman Noel Gallo said lifting the pinball ban is not only a great idea, but a chance for the city to reconsider gambling practices.

Gallo’s proposed a measure which also includes a ban on Internet sweepstakes cafes, where customers can play online games for cash prizes from store owners.

A statewide ban on sweepstakes cafe is also in the works, but Gallo wants Oakland to act sooner.

The public safety committee will consider the measure on Tuesday, which will move on to the full council in July if it passes.

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