Disobeyed at the arcade: Playing pinball against the law for people under 18 in one state

Disobeyed at the arcade: Playing pinball against the law for people under 18 in one state

(As originally published with bells and whistles, Thu, February 16th 2023, 8:26 PM EST)

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (TND) — Playing pinball is like buying pornography, at least in South Carolina. Nobody under 18 can legally do it.

That comes as news to many in the Palmetto State but perhaps it shouldn’t because the pinball law is not new.

“I don’t have any problems sleeping, honestly,” Jerry Pinkas, curator of the Myrtle Beach Pinball Museum, told WPDE.

He knows he’s not exactly running an illegal operation or contributing to the delinquency of minors.

Pinkas explained the state’s ban on adolescent pinball dates back to the 1960s when things were, allegedly, different than now.

It was also, back in the day, used as gambling,” Pinkas said. “So people would rack up credit and that sort of thing. Those days are gone.”

But the law remains.

“I’m saying to you, we are willingly breaking this law,” Josh Rainwater, an owner of Transmission Arcade, admitted to WACH. “It hasn’t been enforced.”

His business is in downtown Columbia, the state capital, where advocates and a lawmaker are pushing to change things.

”I came to learn through this law that we had a pinball place on Main Street, that we have another in Five Points, and there are avid pinball players out there that want to share their talent and their time with children,” Rep. Todd Rutherford said.

The minority leader of the State House actually found out about the law from his teen niece. He responded by drafting a bill to get rid of the ban.

“I don’t know that anybody’s been arrested for playing pinball, but kids need to know that what they’re doing is within the confines of the law,” Rutherford said. “So we’ve got to change this and we need to do it now.”

Disobeyed at the arcade: Playing pinball against the law for people under 18 in one state
Clark Strange, 13, plays pinball at the Myrtle Beach Pinball Museum. Don’t tell anyone! Feb. 14, 2023. (Jendaya Fleming, WPDE)

The timing may be right.

The pinball craze may have died down as the popularity of video games grew, but the games are popular again. Tournaments are popping up.

Back in Myrtle Beach, 13-year-old pinball player Clark Strange wasn’t too concerned with playing by all the rules.

“‘Cause [pinball’s] awesome and I love Star Wars, Marvel, and stuff,” the teen said.

If the bill passes, then parents can go back to important topics, like thinking their children are spending too much money to play.

Something to add? Disagree? Let us all know!

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