After 32 Years, Small Massachusetts Town Votes to Lift Arcade Games Ban

May 1, 2014 - GamePolitics Staff

In 1982 Marshfield, Massachusetts banned coin-operated video games. Over the years many have tried to get the law reversed and failed. But the good news is that Marshfield lifted the long-standing ban this week. On Monday, residents of the small town voted 203-175 to overturn the bylaw and welcome arcade gaming back into town. To put this ban into perspective, that's a 32 year ban on playing arcade games; compared to China's 14 year ban on console games lifted this year. Incredible!

So what caused arcade games to be banned in the first place? Apparently residents believed that arcade games attracted an "undesirable element." In 1983 the ban was challenged and upheld by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, based on the rationale that video games are "addictive to youth, who will skip school and spend unreasonable sums of money to play them at a quarter -- and sometimes 50 cents."

At least that's what Thomas R. Jackson, a retired narcotics agent and the resident who proposed the ban, said at the time. He also alleged at the time that gambling and drug activity were connected to the video game locations where youth "congregate unsupervised."

The United States Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling, so the ban remained in place. Attempts to overturn it in 1994 and again in 2011 were defeated.

Resident Craig Rondeau finally helped overturn the ban in 2014 after he got support from local businesses.

"They want the opportunity to choose [whether they have arcade games]. Let’s give them back their right to choose," he noted in recent interview with WHDH 7 News. "It is a big deal. Because if it ruffled that many feathers, that it took 32 years to get it done, we did something important."

Source: Yahoo


Re: After 32 Years, Small Massachusetts Town Votes to Lift ...

Found out some more interesting news. This isn't the first time this law came up for a vote. Back in 2011, it was voted on. Nearly 3 times as many people showed up to vote and the law was upheld by a fairly narrow margin. So in 3 years time, enough people stopped caring one way or the other enough that a vote was held and the law overturned. 

So is this a win for common sense or voter apathy?

Re: After 32 Years, Small Massachusetts Town Votes to Lift ...

It's only been lifted because they know there's a snowball's chance in hell one will ever open now.

Re: After 32 Years, Small Massachusetts Town Votes to Lift ...

I wouldn't say that. There are still some fairly popular restaurant/arcade combo places around. This even opens the door for a local theater to install a small arcade, something a lot of theaters have. Stand alone arcades are pretty clearly dead, but the machines themselves are not.

And, if I am not mistaken, this challenge to the law was brought about by someone wanting to open an arcade of some sort in this town.

Re: After 32 Years, Small Massachusetts Town Votes to Lift ...

Awesome news. I love it when citizens challenge unjust laws like that and win. 

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