Los Angeles Banned Pinball Machines in 1939


The Los Angeles Times recently shared from its archives that pinball machines were banned in the city in 1939.

The newspaper reported that a clear majority of 161,000 people voted for a ballot item to ban the games, along with “marble boards, scoop claws and similar devices.” People at the time considered them a public nuisance that encouraged “petty gambling.”

Police were given the authority to confiscate pinball machines but didn’t know what to do with them. Pictured above, you’ll see a shot from May 15, 1940, that captured Urban F. Emme, chief clerk of the city marshal’s office, destroying some with a sledgehammer.

With a slew of arcade bars across the City of Angels today, it just goes to show that not all laws age well. Enjoy your pinballs!


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