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San Francisco Finally Overcomes Its Hysteria Over Coin-Op Videogames

Posted On: 7/3/2014

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TAGS: video game ban lift, San Francisco coin-op video game ban, pinball machine ban, San Francisco Board of Supervisors, classic video games, arcade games

SAN FRANCISCO -- There's an excellent chance that San Francisco will join the modern era, tossing off its conservative mantel on July 8. That's when the city's Board of Supervisors will meet and most likely update the antiquated laws governing coin-operated amusement devices. | SEE STORY

The laws, which were enacted in a panic during the early 1980s, were intended to protect the city's youth from the menace of arcades and such games as Galaga and Pac-Man. Running an estimated 6,000 words, the Police Code all but eliminated coin-op games within the city by placing strict limitations on licensing and other requirements.

The new legislation, passed provisionally in April, would be made permanent. Among other things, it loosens up the restrictions, allowing for up to 10 games on premises without requiring a license. Sponsored by City Supervisors Scott Wiener and London Breed, the lifting of the antiquated restrictions was prompted by a number of small business owners wishing to offer arcade games.

In a final piece of irony, many of the very same arcade games the regulations attempted to outlaw more than three decades ago are increasingly popular among bar and tavern patrons wishing to capture digital nostalgia.

Click here to find the current law passed in 1982 (Police Code, article 15, section 1036).