Pinball Nirvana Home Page

Go Back   Pinball Nirvana Forums > Pinball Nirvana Site > Pinball Nirvana's Articles > Articles from Russ Jensen

Articles from Russ Jensen Pinball historian and author, Russ Jensen's Articles, Imported from Pinball Nirvana's old home page.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
  #1  
Old 11-07-2014, 05:48 PM
JonPurpleHaze's Avatar
JonPurpleHaze JonPurpleHaze is offline
EM Enthusiast
 

Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 1,941
Credits: 205,035.82
Thanks: 1,442
Thanked 488 Times in 286 Posts
Rep Power: 39
JonPurpleHaze is a glorious beacon of lightJonPurpleHaze is a glorious beacon of lightJonPurpleHaze is a glorious beacon of lightJonPurpleHaze is a glorious beacon of lightJonPurpleHaze is a glorious beacon of light
Default PINGAMES AND GAMBLING

Almost from the beginning of pinball in the early 1930s (there were a few pinball-like games before that, but we'll leave those to Dick Bueschel) a recurring problem encountered by the "pinball industry" has been anti-gambling forces. This was partly due to the fact that a major product of the coin machine industry in the Thirties was the "bell slot machine", which was certainly a gambling machine, and many people opposed to gambling were suspicious of all coin operated devices.

An Historical Survey

As a result, for many years to come, pinballs had to be

defended as being "amusement" and not "gambling" devices. But,

as we shall see, many pingames were made to be used for gambling,

others made so they could be used for gambling, if desired, and

some made to minimize, as much as possible, their potential

gambling uses.



Before we look at the characteristics of various types of

pingames, and their relation to gambling, lets consider what is

meant by the term "gambling" and its connection to "games" in

general. My dictionary defines a "game" as "an amusement or

pastime", and also as "a contest for amusement in the form of a

trial of chance, skill, or endurance, according to set rules."

Pingames certainly fit these definitions because they are used

for amusement, have both the elements of chance and skill, and

are played to a "set of rules". Gambling is defined as "playing

a game of chance for stakes" or as "to stake or risk money, or

anything of value, on the outcome of something involving chance".



As you can see from these definitions, "chance" is a key

element of gambling and can also be present in many games, and

this was the connection used in most anti-pinball legal hassles.

In many legal cases the fate of pinball in a particular

jurisdiction was determined by how a court ruled on the degree of

"chance" (usually versus "skill") which was present in pingames.



As a sidelight to this discussion of pingames and gambling,

there was an "editorial" on the subject appearing in the July 4,

1936 issue of BILLBOARD magazine which presented some interesting

comparisons between pinball "awards" and "skill awards" connected

with other popular recreations. The column was titled "Pinball

Perils", with the byline of "Silver Sam" (this was obviously a

pseudonym, but that name appeared frequently in the coin machine

section of BILLBOARD).



This article was written in the form of a conversation

between the writer (Sam) and a lawyer friend of his (a pinball

"fan") supposidly precipitated by an article appearing in a local

newspaper about a "crusader" trying to outlaw pinball games as

gambling devices. The lawyer defended pinball "awards" by

comparing them with "skill awards" given in everyday games such

as golf (for making a "hole in one"), and bowling (for a "perfect

game"). He said that in these games, which were certainly not

considered gambling games, as well as pinball, the player paid a

"fixed fee" to participate in the game and that the special

"awards" were given for extremely skillful play which he likened

to "high score awards" provided by some pingames.



He went on to say that the only difference between the golf

or bowling "awards" and pinball "awards" was that the former are

quite difficult to obtain, while the latter are quite a bit

easier for a skillful pinball player. He stated "any judge who

rules against games is saying in effect 'it is illegal to play

pingames because the skill awards can be won too often'". This

lawyer even compared receiving a "skill award" for pinball to a

lawyer taking a lawsuit on a "contingency basis" and being paid

("awarded") a percentage of the court award if he was "skillful"

enough to win a judgement.



I thought that article had some interesting points when it

came to the anti-pinball gambling furor prevalent, especially in

the 1930s. One thing that he failed to mention, in connection

with games such as golf and bowling, was that "side bets" often

occur in games such as these which is also another type of

gambling that can, and sometimes does, occur in connection with

pinball. But, I guess that was a "negative" connection in the

context of the article.



In the early Thirties, when mechanical, mostly counter-top,

pingames began to appear they were probably not often used for

gambling. Side bets might have occurred between players, and in

a few instances, I suppose, establishments having these games may

have given "awards" of merchandise or cash for high scores.

Right off hand, however, I do not know of any early mechanical

pingames which had a form of direct payout mechanism, although

there may have been a few.





ENTER 'PAYOUTS'



Then, in 1933, at around the same time as Harry Williams was

working on his first pingame using electricity to provide

playfield "action", Bally came out with a new type of pingame

which was to have a major impact on the pinball industry and

result in much legal controversy for many years to come. This

game was called ROCKET and it used electricity (from "dry cell"

batteries) to power a mechanism which paid out coins directly to

the player if he shot a ball into the proper holes on the

playfield.



At that point pingame design began to split in two

directions, "payouts", and "novelty" games. Many manufacturers

including Bally, Gottlieb, Western Equipment and Supply, Keeney,

and the slot machine firms Mills and Jennings, began to put out a

good many payout pinballs in the Thirties, in addition to their

"novelty" games. Payout pinballs were indeed a big business in

those years. Other pingame manufacturers, such as Genco (I dont

believe I have ever heard of a Genco payout pingame), Exhibit

supply, and Chicago Coin made relatively few payouts, sticking

more with the "novelty" games. Many of the payout games only

offered the player one ball per game and became known as "one-

balls".



This new type of pingame, the "payout", opened up new

opportunities for the coin machine operators in the mid 1930s.

As I said earlier, the bell slot machine was a popular money-

maker for operators of that period in areas where they were

either legal or "tolerated". The payout pinball gave the slot

machine operator another type of game to operate in those areas,

probably bringing in some new players who wanted to gamble but

felt that the slots were too 'fixed' in the operator's favor.

These people probably thought "at least with these pingames I

have a chance to use my skill to increase my chances of winning."



Secondly, operators could, in some cases, operate payout

pins in areas where slots were not tolerated but where pinballs,

with their "skill" features, could get by under the local

ordinances, at least until these laws were tested in the courts.

So this opened up new "gambling territories" for some operators,

at least for the time being. In other areas, with stricter anti-

gambling laws, the non-payout "novelty" pins had to be operated

exclusively.



An "off-shoot" of the "payouts" were the "ticket venders"

which dispensed tickets (in place of coins) to the winners.

These could be used in some territories where cash payouts were

strictly forbidden by redeeming the tickets for prizes of

merchandise. In many cases though these tickets were redeemed

for cash "under the table".



A few payout pins even had "mint venders" attached, in the

same manner as many slot machines of the day, in an attempt to

get around anti-gambling laws by claiming that the player was

paying for merchandise, and that the playing of the game, with

its possible monitory award, was only "secondary". This idea

had been used many times in the past with other gambling

machines, even around the "Turn Of The Century" when music boxes

were added to "upright" slot machines.



FREE GAMES



Another important event, which affected the pinball/gambling

connection, occurred early in 1935 with the introduction of "free

games" to pinball design. As I have stated, in the early

Thirties pinball games were essentially divided into two types,

"payouts" and "novelty games". In an effort to come up with a

way to award pinball players for their skill, without direct

payouts, a young man invented a new device whose concept was to

have a lasting effect of the pinball industry, even today.



This man, as the story goes, was a young assistant to

pinball pioneer Harry Williams named Bill Belluh. The device he

invented and patented, and which harry helped him perfect, was

the "free-play coin mechanism" which allowed a player, making a

certain high score in a game, to restart the game without

inserting a coin; thus awarding him with a "free game". This

idea was introduced in mid 1935 on Rockola's FLASH and then began

to appear on pingames by most manufacturers. "Free-game

pinballs" became the most common type of pingames from that time

on and are the only type generally in use today.



These new "free-play" pingames became a third class of

pinball game which could be operated legally in most territories

where "payouts" were strictly forbidden. These games gave the

players something to "shoot for", namely a "free game". But, as

we shall see, even these "free games" came under attack by the

courts and eventually were outlawed in certain jurisdictions.



As "free play pinball" developed in the mid to late

Thirties, most had the capability of awarding more than one free

game (or "replay", as they became known) during a given game, and

the machines contained some form of "totalizer" mechanism to keep

track of, and indicate to the player, how many replay "credits"

he was entitled to. In early 1937 Bally came out with a game

called SKIPPER (a new version of their hit game BUMPER) which

combined "free play" and "payout" features in one machine.



SKIPPER had a free game register on the backboard which

showed the player how many "free games" he had accumulated. The

player could either play these games one by one as "replays" or,

by pushing a button hidden underneath the game's cabinet, cause

the machine to subtract his "free game" credits from the

indicator and pay him one coin for each credit by means of a

payout mechanism which would dispense coins through a hole, also

located underneath the cabinet. This game could thus be operated

as a "payout" in "payout territories" or as a "free play" machine

(by disabling the payout mechanism) in "free game territories".

I also imagine that SKIPPER was even occasionally operated in

areas where payouts were illegal, by paying out secretly using

its hidden mechanism.



Even though few games (SKIPPER may even have been the only

one) were made with both payout and free game features, the idea

of installing a button underneath the cabinet for subtracting

free game credits became a standard feature on most "free play"

pinballs until the early fifties, but more about that later.



This button allowed free play pingames to be used for

gambling, either in territories where it was allowed, or "under

the table" in other areas. In both cases a player earning replay

credits would approach the owner of the establishment where the

game was located, who in turn would pay the player a certain

amount for each credit indicated on the replay indicator (usually

a nickel, the price of one play) and then erase the replays using

the concealed button. A player could, of course, play some or

all of his credits as "free games" if he wished, as was done by

players in locations where payouts were not offered.



Since this method of "paying out" on free play machines

involved the location owner as the "paying agent", a method had

to be devised for keeping track of how many replays were redeemed

for cash so that he and the game's owner (the coin machine

operator) could determine their split of the "profits" from the

machine. This was accomplished by the manufacturer installing a

"payout meter" inside each game which tallied (on a odometer-like

counter) the number of free games erased using the under-cabinet

button (or "replay knock-off button", as it came to be called).

It was this "knock-off button", and that "meter", that made

possible the use of free play pingames for gambling purposes.



So, by the mid to late 1930s there were essentially three

types of pingames being produced: "direct payout" machines,

always used for gambling; "free play" or "replay" machines, which

could either be used for gambling (using location owner payoffs

and the "knock-off button") or for strictly free play operation;

and the so called "novelty" games which neither awarded cash nor

replays.



Many of the games manufactured in the late Thirties and

early Forties could be "switched" between "free play" and

"novelty" modes of operation by the operator changing a "control

plug" inside the backboard. Even "novelty" games, which had no

internal mechanisms to support gambling uses, could still be used

for gambling either by "side betting" between players, or by high

score payoffs made by the location owner. Lets face it, if

people want to gamble on any game, they will.





THE POST-WAR ERA



During World War II no new pingames ("payout", "free play",

or "novelty") were manufactured, the plants being devoted to "war

production". Some pre-war games were "converted" to "new" games

using the old parts and cabinets. The only "payouts" converted

during that time were some of the "one-ball horserace" type

machines manufactured prior to the war.



When pingame production began again after the war many of

the pre-war pingame manufacturers had dropped out of the

business. About the only company which began producing "payout"

pinballs after the war was Bally. Gottlieb, which had produced

many "payouts" before the war, made their last payout machine in

1947, a game called DAILY RACES, which, incidentally, was the

name of one of their early "one-balls" produced back in 1936.



By the late Forties many jurisdictions had passed anti-

gambling laws, many of which focused on pinball, especially the

"one-ball" multiple coin machines. In fact, many of these laws

specifically mentioned "one-ball machines" as one type which was

outlawed. In an apparent effort to get around "the 'letter' of

these laws", Bally (the producer of most of the post-war "one-

balls") tried a gimmick which probably, I would think, met with

only limited success.



They introduced an optional feature on their "one-balls"

which they called the "skill lane". At the upper left hand area

of the playfield (at the location where the rubber "rebound pad"

was normally located) a trough was installed just long enough to

hold four balls. On top of this area was a cover labeled "Skill

Lane". Five balls were used in these machines, in place of the

normal one, and the instruction cards were modified by adding a

statement such as: "player must shoot the first four balls into

the skill lane in order to qualify the fifth ball for scoring".

An electrical contact located below the trough disabled the

scoring mechanisms of the machine until the fourth ball landed in

the "skill lane".



In case you haven't guessed already, the main idea of this

was that a "one-ball game" (specifically outlawed in many areas)

now became a "five ball game" which were not outlawed in most

areas. The other part was that "skill" was now supposed to be

involved. It turned out, however, that the only "skill" involved

was being able to pull the plunger all the way back (or even

close to that) because a moderate force applied to any ball would

send it directly into the "skill lane"; but the card said

"skill", didn't it? The card also said "5 balls 5 cents", so

between these two maybe the "five ball one-balls" could be

operated for awhile in a few areas where "one-balls" were

outlawed, at least until the matter was taken to court. I really

don't know how good this idea worked, but I doubt that it was

very successful. But, it's a good piece of pinball history

trivia anyway.



As I said, by the late Forties Bally was almost the only

manufacturer of payout pinballs. These were all in the form of

"one-ball horserace" machines, most of which were built in two

models, one "coin payout" and the other "free play". These were

often released in pairs with similar names, such a s JOCKEY CLUB

and JOCKEY SPECIAL, with the term "special" in the name normally

used to signify the "free play" version. Of course, even the

"free play" versions were used mostly for gambling, with the

location owner paying off for "free games" and using the "knock-

off button" as described earlier. But, as we shall soon see, the

day of the "one-ball" and of the "knock-off button" were soon to

come to a close.



In the late Forties there were also a few "one-balls" made

by manufacturers other than Bally, Keeney made a few, and

another outfit, Universal Industries (which was actually a

subsidiary of Lyn Durant's United Manufacturing set up to

manufacture console slots and "one-balls") also made some rather

sophisticated one-ball horserace machines.



Before we end our discussion of the late Forties, another

significant event in pinball history, having a lot to do with the

legal hassles over pinballs and gambling, must be noted. This

was the introduction of the "flipper" to pinball by D. Gottlieb

and Company in December of 1947.



The prevalence of the "one-ball games" at that time, which

as we said were used almost exclusively for gambling, led to

increased pressure by anti-gambling forces against pinball games

in general. The increase in the "skill factor" in pinball play

resulting from the introduction of the flipper gave the pro-

pinball forces a new "weapon" to use to defend "amusement

pinball" in the courts. It could now be argued that "flipper

pinball" was more of a game of "skill" than of "chance", an

argument that was much more difficult to support before the

flipper came along.



So by the end of the Forties we had the "one-balls" as the

primary gambling pins on the one hand, and the new "amusement

flipper games", with their increased "skill factor", on the

other. Of course, the ever present "knock-off button" still

remained on many flipper machines allowing them to also be used

for gambling, if desired.



THE JOHNSON ACT



By 1950 gambling machines (slots, "one-balls", etc.) were

quite common in many parts of the country despite massive efforts

by anti-gambling forces over the years to outlaw them. Slot

machines were operated in many states and localities; in some

places legally, in others illegally, but they were there

nevertheless.



Then, probably the biggest single blow to the "gambling

industry" in the U.S. came about in 1950 with the passage by

congress of the Johnson Act. That law banned inter-state

shipment of "gambling devices" (including repair parts, manuals,

etc.) except to states in which the device was legal. So, it now

was a federal offense to ship slots, "one-balls", etc. into any

state which did not allow them. This, as you can imagine, was

quite a deterrent to the manufacturers and distributors of such

devices to providing them to illegal, or even questionably legal,

areas.



As I previously stated, at that time about the only pinballs

used mostly for gambling were the "one-ball horserace games"

manufactured primarily by Bally and Universal. The advent of the

flipper had made "amusement pinballs" less likely to be outlawed

as gambling devices due to their increased "skill factor" and

therefore not a problem under the Johnson Act.



But the "one-balls" were an entirely different story. Many

ordinances specifically mentioned "one-ball games" as a type

which were outlawed and therefore, in most jurisdictions, their

shipment was definitely banned by the Johnson Act. So at that

time the one-ball manufacturers could clearly see that production

of this type of machine was impractical. Something had to be

done if they were not to suffer a severe loss of profits.



So, in 1951, a new type of pingame came into being to replace

the "one-balls". One story, which was told to me by industry

personage Bob Jonesi a few years ago, regarding the beginning of

this new type of game goes something like this.



Lou Walcher, owner of the large San Francisco coin machine

distributorship, Advance Automatic Sales, had an idea for a new

type of pingame which used 5 balls ("one-ball" was definitely

out) and scored replays by lighting numbers in a given pattern.

He then challenged the industry to design games using his new

idea. As a result the first "in-line" or "bingo" type pingames

came into being



United's initial entry into this new field was a game called

A-B-C which had a circular playfield (much like a roulette wheel)

and three 5 by 5 number "bingo cards" on the backglass.

Universal, actually a subsidiary of United, came out with 5-STAR,

having a short rectangular playfield containing numbered holes

and five 3 by 3 cards on the backglass. Bally's entry into this

"derby" was BRIGHT LIGHT, which had a playfield about the size of

a "one-ball" and six 5 by 5 cards. Well, Bally's format (as for

playfield configuration and card size) finally won out, and games

of that type became the new addition to the pingame industry.



Bally and United became the chief manufacturers of these new

"in-line" games as they were first called, with a few being

produced by Keeney, and even one by Williams. At first there

seemed not to be much of a problem with shipping them under the

Johnson Act, after all they were clearly not "one-balls" as five

balls (and up to eight, as most allowed the player a chance to

use up to three "extra balls") were actually used in each game.



But, before very long, these games were also being

challenged in court as being "gambling devices" primarily due to

the fact that they had no flippers (not much "skill factor") and

because a player could win large numbers of replays which, in

most locations, were paid off in cash by the proprietor of the

establishment in which they were located. Indeed, I am sure

"bingos" (as these games came to be called) were used for

gambling more often than not.



Well, after many legal hassles, the 1957 "Korpran Decision"

of the Supreme Court ruled that these "bingo pinballs" were

"gambling devices" and thus subject to the Johnson Act. This

severely cut back the use of these machines except in a few

states, such as Tennessee and South Carolina, where they were

legal. Bally continued to manufacture bingos, however, for many

years to come to supply these states and foreign markets, even

making improvements in the games, such as the popular "OK bingos"

of the early Sixties, until the early Eighties when Tennessee

(the largest U.S. user of these machines) outlawed them.



The Johnson Act also had its effect on "flipper games". Two

characteristics used to define "gambling features" in coin

machines, which showed up in many laws, were "a button to

'cancel' Free game credits" and "a meter to indicate the number

of free games so canceled." In 1950 almost all flipper pinballs

had these two features, so when the Johnson Act came along

pinball manufacturers knew these features had to be eliminated

from flipper games lest their shipment be banned by the new "law

of the land".



Therefore, by 1951 or so, the infamous "knock-off button" was

eliminated from most flipper pinballs. Incidentally, the "bingo

pinball" manufacturers had found a clever way of getting around

(at least for satisfying the "letter of the law") the "knock-off

button" problem. The circuitry in these machines automatically

ran the replays, indicated by the replay counter on the

backboard, down to zero whenever power was applied to the

machine. So, locations "paying off" replays would simply turn

the game off and back on again, and the replays would be "reset"

to zero without the use of a "button".



So, as you can see, by the early Fifties the Johnson Act had

severely curtailed shipment of gambling machines such as slots

and "one-balls", caused a new type of pingame (the well known

"bingo") to be produced, and made it much more difficult (by the

elimination of the "knock-off button") for people to gamble using

flipper games. But this was not the end of the attack on pinball

by the "crusaders", as we shall see.



It was also in the early Fifties that some people in the

coin machine industry decided it was time to "clean up their act"

lest their business be hurt by the still existent anti-gambling

forces. An organization, "the Coin Machine Institute", was formed

with harry Williams of Williams manufacturing as its president.

Many of the manufacturers, such as D. Gottlieb and Co. (who got

out of the "gambling business" in 1947 by eliminating "one-ball"

production), etc., joined this organization and began a publicity

campaign to show that "flipper pinball", and the other amusement

machines they made, were strictly for fun and had no connection

whatsoever with gambling. Others, such as Bally and United,

continued to manufacture "bingos" and other machines with a

"gambling flavor".





ADD-A-BALLS



With the elimination of the "knock-off button", making it

extremely difficult to use flipper games for gambling, one would

certainly think that these games would be relatively free from

"pressure" from anti-gambling forces. Well, there were still

some "crusaders" who thought that pinball (probably because of

its gambling connections in the past) was "evil" and should be

outlawed no matter what form the games took.



Actually, there was still a way that a skillful flipper game

player could make a small "profit" from playing pinball, other

than of course, from "side betting". If he was able to "rack up"

a large number of replays on a machine he could "sell" them to

another player for him to play, instead of the second player

actually putting coins into the machine. This could, in effect,

make the replays earned by the player (and subsequently sold to a

second party) "something of value" which he could "win" resulting

from his initial investment ("bet") of the coin he deposited to

play the game. Based on this concept, playing flipper games in

this manner could be construed by some persons, and possibly

courts, as "gambling".



Probably as a result of ideas such as this, and the idea

that flipper games were closely related to the "bingo" gambling

type games (which also gave replays), "free games" on flipper

pinballs were eventually outlawed by some states (such as New

York and Wisconsin), and some local jurisdictions as well. So

again the pinball industry, even those companies making strictly

"flipper amusement games", had to come up with a new type of game

to try and recoup the territories lost by such laws.



Well, it was "Gottlieb to the rescue". In 1960 Alvin

Gottlieb, son of D. Gottlieb and Co. founder David Gottlieb, who

was now working at the plant, had an idea for a new type of

flipper game which did not give replays at all, but still

provided a "challenge" to the player and an opportunity to "earn"

something for his skill at the game. His idea was to give "free

balls", rather than "free games", for the player attaining

certain scores on the machine. After all, it would be almost

impossible for a player to "sell" an extra ball to another

player.

Alvin's idea, after the design was perfected by Gottlieb's

ace designer Wayne Neyens, became the first of the so-called

"Add-A-Ball" games. The company decided to call this game

FLIPPER to strengthen in people's minds its identity as a

"flipper skill game" and further indicate that it had no

connection with the infamous "bingo" machines which had no

flippers.



This game, and the many "Add-A-Balls" which followed over

the years, had a ball counter which could indicate up to 10

balls. At the start of a game 5 balls were indicated, one being

subtracted as each ball was played. When the counter reached

zero the game was over. If, however, the player reached one of

the pre-set high scores, the counter was incremented by one

giving the player an additional ball to play.



These new games won acceptance in many states and localities

where "replays" had been outlawed, and states such as New York

became known as "Add-A-Ball territories". Many players, who

have grown up in such areas, say that playing these machines is

"the ultimate challenge in pinball play" because an extremely

skillful player can make one game last for quite a while. So,

once again, the pinball industry made another step in winning

acceptance of pingames in areas where they had formerly met with

"legal resistance".





LATER YEARS



Before leaving the subject of local laws, and their effect

on pinball, I would like to briefly mention one other situation I

have heard of. It seems that some jurisdictions, such as the

state of Indiana I am told, decided that "replays" themselves

were alright as long as it was not indicated by the machine how

many replay "credits" were available on the game at any given

time. It was felt that if a person could not easily ascertain

how many replays had been earned by a player, then a player could

not "sell" his replays to another player.



So, in these areas, in order to operate a replay pinball,

the "free game window" on the backglass had to be covered up. To

accommodate this type of operation some manufacturers started

putting a "credit light" at the bottom of the playfield which

only indicated if one or more replay credits were available

without indicating how many. So, if any of you were wondering

what the little white light in the lower area of the award card

holder on your game was for, the mystery is solved!



Before concluding this article on pinballs and gambling one

final note on the subject of "side betting". In the late 1970s,

when pinball was finally getting a "good name" after so many

years of "identity problems", the film industry almost cast a

shadow on pinball in the form of a motion picture whose theme was

based on, of all things, "pinball gambling". This film, titled

TILT, was one of Brooke Shield's early movie roles. In it she

played a young teenager, known affectionately as "Tilt", who had

great skill when it came to playing pinball. In the story she

travels across the country with a young musician and earns money

for the trip by "hustling pinball"; playing against local

"champs" for money, ie "side betting".



I had heard about this movie being produced and was

anxiously awaiting another "pinball movie", "TOMMY" being the

only one at that time. Then someone told me it had been

initially released in St. Louis but pulled back after about a

week (a story which I have never been able to verify) due, I

believe, to pressure from the coin machine industry. About that

time I talked to Harry Williams on the phone and he told me of

being invited to a preview showing of the film, because, as the

"inventor of the 'tilt'", the movie makers wanted his

endorsement. Harry told me he thought the film was "horrible", a

statement I attributed to his fear of the harm it might do to the

"public image" of pinball at a time when it was finally in pretty

good shape.



"Tilt" was never released to the general public, but several

years later it began being shown on cable T.V. I now have the

film on video tape and it is a good movie showing pinball being

played with some excellent "special effects"; and the story is

rather good too, if you discount the "negative" aspect of

"pinball gambling".



Well, there you have it, "what you always wanted to know

about pinball and gambling, but were afraid to ask." As you can

see pinball has not always been "lily white" when it comes to

gambling, but neither has it been as "black" as many "crusaders"

of the past would have had us believe.



Pinball had its beginnings in an era when gambling was

fairly widespread and many pingame manufacturers "jumped on the

bandwagon". Some players enjoyed "playing for money", while

others got just as much enjoyment out of playing a good game

"just for the fun and challenge of it". Still others got, and

still do, as great a thrill from obtaining a "replay" (or "free

ball" in "Add-A-Ball territories") as many did from winning cash

or merchandise. That "knock" of the replay knocker gives the

player a real inner feeling of accomplishment.



Finally, as we all know, if a person wants to gamble on a

game, whether it be pinball, golf, bowling, bridge, or tiddly-

winks, he will find a way. So be it! Games are for amusement

and enjoyment so let each "enjoy" in his or her own way.





A FINAL NOTE



Will there ever be "gambling pinballs" in the future? Could

be! On a recent trip to Las Vegas I visited with my friend Marc

Fellman, currently general manager of the recently "revitalized"

Hotel Nevada, hotel and casino. Marc, in case you dont know, is

co-owner with Wade Wright (now of San Francisco) of probably the

largest pinball collection in the country (around 500 machines)

which, incidentally, is up for sale if any of you have those "big

bucks".



Marc mentioned to me that he had some ideas about designing

a "gambling pinball machine" for use in legal gambling areas,

such as Nevada. So, when his hotel/casino revitalization

project is complete, it is entirely possible that such a machine

might be designed and produced. Who knows? If so, all those

people who enjoy a gambling game with a real "skill factor" may

again be able to enjoy such play in areas where it is legal to do

so. Lets wait and see!


Updated May 04, 2007 Written by Russ Jensen
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
The Year That Could Have Ended Pinball JonPurpleHaze Articles from Russ Jensen 0 11-07-2014 06:15 PM
The Evolution Of The Flipper JonPurpleHaze Articles from Russ Jensen 0 11-07-2014 06:04 PM
Pinball Scoring Themes JonPurpleHaze Articles from Russ Jensen 0 11-07-2014 05:45 PM


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 11:32 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Template-Modifications by TMS
Credits System provided by vBCredits II Deluxe (Lite) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2018 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
Shoutbox provided by vBShout v6.2.15 (Lite) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2018 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.