By tomorrow night there will be no more pinball in Cambridge for the first time in years, and pinsters from Bow Street to the Square are wondering what's behind the ban and how long it will last.
Said city councilman "Mickey" Sullivan last night, "The bill has been passed by the City Council after public hearings and will continue in effect until such time as the Council decides otehrwise. As was the case in New York in 1942, we have come to the conclusion that a pinball machine is a gambling device even if the player receives nothing but another chances to play."
At Harry's Arcade Spa, whose floors have felt the tread of Roosevelts and Rockefellers, pinball was termed "good clean fun," "necessary for morale," "harmless amusement."' "If the game is banned," said one habitue, "you will get a vicious ring of backroom machines and gambling. The ban will probably boomerang." Regardless of the outcome of the ban, Arcade Spa, which thrives on pinball revenue, will be hard hit.
Offspring of the illegal slot machine, pinball is big business now, although production of new machines was frozen by the War Production Board in May, 1942. Shopkeepers receive approximately half of the take, and the rest goes to the operators, who maintain the machines.
Pinball outlawing is not new. The best example of wholesale confiscation is the 1942 New York City seizure of 11,000 machines. Official estimate of the annual "take" in New York City was put at over 20 million dollars, and all America at the time was paying out 400 million dollars annually to be amused by pinball.
Costing roughly $400, the pinball machine weighs 125 pounds, has over 700 feet of wire, a transformer, electric relays, motor, and hundreds of light bulbs. Experts, whose pinmanship is par excellence, direct the course of the magnetized marbles with well-calculated nudges, but usually when handled too roughly the machine shortcircuits and clicks on the "tilt" sign.
At any rate, bankrolls will begin to accumulate under the outlawing, and Crimson pinsters will have to seek the flashing light and clanging bell elsewhere.
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