Theverge.com has a nice little history of pinball and video arcades wherein we learn that New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia took special interest in outlawing and smashing pinball machines back in 1942 for their connection to organized crime which was forced to diversify after prohibition ended.
He ordered the city’s police to make Prohibition-style pinball raids and seizures its “top priority,” and was photographed with a sledgehammer, triumphantly smashing the seized machines. On the first day of the ban, the city police confiscated more than 2,000 pinball machines and issued nearly 1,500 summons.
Opponents of pinball based their argument on the claim that it was a form of gambling rather than a game of skill.
…but under the surface was a much more temperance-fueled, nearly religious belief that pinball was a tool “from the devil,” which corrupted youths. Newspapers across the country essentially nodded their heads in agreement as games of all sorts — billiards, and even “old ladies’ bridge clubs” — were held up to scrutiny. At the time, it was easy to make the case that pinball was morally corrupting, at least insofar as it was a gateway to gambling, as well as a complete waste of time. Many large cities followed in New York’s footsteps, including Los Angeles and Chicago (San Francisco is one of the only major cities to have never banned the game), and pinball bans became fairly commonplace across the United States.
Yeah, it always starts as a crusade to save the children, but eventually the facade is dispensed with and it becomes just another crusade to dictate how everyone should live. I guess today’s New Yorkers would recognize the same mentality in their current mayor with his special capacity to see evil in everything from soft drinks, to food for the homeless, to baby formula. The more things change, the more they stay the same.