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Pinball games banned in L.A.

Pinball games banned in L.A.

May 15, 1940: Urban F. Emme, chief clerk of city marshal’s office, wields a sledgehammer on a confiscated pinball game and other machines ordered destroyed by municipal judges.

During a Dec. 10, 1939, election, Los Angeles City Proposition No. 3, banning pinball games, passed with about 161,000 votes for and 113,000 against. The Los Angeles Times reported the next morning:

Pin-ball games, marble boards, scoop claws and similar devices, under the ordinance approved yesterday by the people, will be declared nuisances in public places, and therefore subject to seizure by the police. The ordinance had a substantial majority…

Mayor Bowron and his Police Commission urged the adoption of the anti pin-ball law on the grounds that the machines are used for petty gambling, so widespread that the police are totally insufficient in number to enforce the law.

The June 22, 1974, Los Angeles Times reported that the California Supreme Court ruled the 1939 Los Angeles City pinball ordinance invalid.

This photo above was published in the May 16, 1940, Los Angeles Times.

Oct. 23, 1939: A crowd of 400 gathers at a Los Angeles City Council meeting to discuss the pros and cons of a proposal to outlaw pinball games, punchboards and similar devices. This photo was published in the Oct. 24, 1939, Los Angeles Times. Credit: Los Angeles Times.


  1. July 13, 2013, 10:44 pm

    That's just sick. I'd much rather see a sledge hammer taken to state-run video poker machines and the like. Talk about a suckers' game.

    By: doc
  2. July 14, 2013, 7:57 am

    A neighbor in east Los Angeles got the owner of a liquor store where he worked to let him install and profit from some pinball machines.Soldiers in the anti-aircraft batterys nearby used the heck out of them and made him enough money to found a fortune in real estate.

  3. July 14, 2013, 2:40 pm

    Gosh, does anybody do research when they write an article? The Marshal's Office was run by the Los Angeles County, not by the City of Los Angeles. They serviced the Municipal Courts, which were also county based, throughout the State of California.

    The last time someone goofed like this, was over an article about a motorist getting her "fix-it" ticket signed-off and I pointed it out then!!!.

    By: Steven Moshlak

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