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Drunk History – Pinball Prohibition

October 7, 2015

Two Comedy Central guys get drunk and talk about pinball’s illegal past.  Embedding disabled so check out the video here.


Of course, like nearly every historical account of pinball’s illegality, what they never mention is that pinball was used for gambling.  Players could rack up credits on a machine (games back then could rack up 10 – 100 credits or more in a single game) and then “redeem” them at the bar for nickels.

For about the first 15 years of pinball’s existence, the games didn’t have flippers.  All you could do was plunge, nudge and pray, and payouts were the norm.  In 1947, flippers were added to pinball and for the next twenty years or so, pinball split into two factions: “skill games” and “gambling games”.  From 1950 to 1960, the vast majority of Bally’s production was Bingo machines, a flipper-less pinball-like game used for gambling, and they continued to produce them into the 1970s.  Cities and towns often didn’t want to split hairs over which was which, so they simply banned them all.

Also, in some cases, it wasn’t about the machines but the mafia. Pinball-as-gambling was insanely lucrative and naturally the mafia wanted to control the action. Banning pinball was a way to hit the mob square in the pocketbook.

Pat Lawlor joins Jersey Jack Pinball

October 1, 2015

Though it’s been a fait accompli on pinball social media sites for quite awhile, it’s now official from JJP!

For those of you who don’t recognize the name Pat Lawlor, he’s the designer of some of the most popular and revered games ever made, including The Addams Family and Twilight Zone.  You can see the games Pat has had a hand in here.

STERN Goes Virtual

September 29, 2015


I’ve been saying it for years.  When the iPad was introduced, one of the top App downloads was Pinball HD.  It sold millions of copies!

Pinball was never dead, it just changed venues, and virtual pinball is a great way to get people into the scene.  One example: I played a guy at a league night who’d  never played an actual TZ but knew the rules to Twilight Zone from playing the virtual table!  He’s now one of the top contenders in the Bay Area.

Kudos to STERN for getting on the bus.

More info HERE

Eden Stamm Breaks World Pinball Record

September 10, 2015

Eden Stamm of British Columbia broke the world record for consecutive pinball play by beating the current record of 28 hours.


Above: Eden is either stretching during his 5-minute/hour break, or hallucinating wildly from sleep deprivation and attempting a death save on a street pole.

Eden is a longtime competitive pinball player, former Nintendo Champion and all-around cool guy. Congrats Eden!


September 8, 2015

Kabounce (website here) is a sort of “TRON meets pinball” online team multiplayer game where you try to hit targets around the playfield and change them to your own team’s color.

Game of Thrones Pinball Coming from STERN

September 5, 2015

Long rumored and now official, STERN is producing a pinball game based on the mega-popular HBO series. The teaser doesn’t allow embedding but you can watch it here:

Obviously, as licenses go this one is unbeatable, and if the game play knocks it out of the park this could be a real game changer for STERN.


Robert Gagno – Inside the Mind of a Pinball Wizard

August 31, 2015

Robert Gagno is the top Canadian pinball player and one of the top pinball players in the world, currently ranked 6th in the IFPA. He’s also high-functioning autistic.  I’ve run into Robert at over a dozen events over the years, as well as his wonderfully nice parents Kathy and Maurizio.

A new documentary hopes to tell Robert’s story.  Check out the teaser below and consider donating to the Indiegogo campaign when it opens in September.

“Robert Gagno is one of the world’s best pinball players. He can talk at length about the minute details of pinball, and the level of precision needed to play on all styles of games. He also has autism, diagnosed by the time he was three years old. “I want to become a legend,” he says in this portrait documentary by SALAZAR. “I think you have to have a natural passion for a certain thing if you want to get good at something.” Gagno has a passion for pinball, and the film follows him as he rises up the ranks of the international circuit.”

Check out the film’s web site here.


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