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California city repeals longstanding ban on ... playing pinball?

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Though the threat of prosecution had been practically nonexistent, pinball had been outlawed in the city of Oakland for the past 80 years. That changed in July when the city amended the ordinance forbidding it.

Oakland's strange ban on pinball wasn't so strange when it was enacted, reports the San Jose Mercury News. In the 1930s, pinball machines were more similar to slot machines than what is played today, and it was a form of gambling. Oakland's law was aimed at curbing gambling. In the 1940s, with the introduction of flippers, pinball became more a game a skill and less one of chance, but the game was still, technically, verboten in O-town.

The repeal of that ban came in a July 15 amendment to a city anti-gambling ordinance, which the city council took up to address a loophole that allowed Internet cafés to offer online gambling activities while essentially disguising itself as offering Internet access for business or communication purposes. In fixing that, the city got rid of the outdated proscription on pinball.

To celebrate the repeal of pinball prohibition, Stern Pinball, the International Flipper Pinball Association, and a local RadioShack are staging a monthlong pinball contest. It began Wednesday, and the winner takes home an Iron Man Pro Vault Edition pinball machine that they may play to their heart's content.

Legally.