KOKOMO - Pinball is on the verge of once again being legal in Kokomo.
The Kokomo Common Council voted unanimously on second reading Monday to reverse an unenforced, decades-old ban on pinball machines in the city, a topic that has generated national interest in recent days.
Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight is expected to sign the ordinance into law Tuesday morning.
The city’s decision to repeal the unenforced ban has brought a spotlight to Kokomo in the last week, with publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Indianapolis Star and Miami Herald all publishing stories about the bizarre situation.
Some programs, including National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, provided humorous takes on the story, with Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep saying the council will be “taking its chances on keeping the peace from now on.”
In Indiana, the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel commended Kokomo, calling on other elected officials to eliminate active, but largely ignored, laws.
“Laws that are on the book but generally ignored can be used as weapons against people authorities want to harass; laws against loitering were once notorious for that,” wrote the News-Sentinel’s editorial board.
“Legislators should make it a practice to periodically review all the legislation on their books with an idea to weeding out laws that no longer make sense.”
Following Monday's meeting, council member Steve Whikehart, who sponsored the ordinance, echoed some of what has been written and discussed his recent experience with the national media.
“It’s been surreal, I think is the best way to describe it,” he said. “We’ve kind of joked about it, the fact that it was even on the books to begin with. I’m a fan of history and I’ve been schooled on pinball and what it means and why it was illegal back in the 1950s and 1960s. It’s been a very educational experience.
“But, again, I keep focusing on the fact that we’ve made a conscious effort to modernize the language. So all jokes aside, it really is pulling an unenforced, outdated law off the books so we can clean it up and be more representative of 2016.”
There was, however, a different opinion surrounding the situation 61 years ago.
An editorial written in the Kokomo Tribune in 1955, when the ban was first instituted, stated that, “Wives whose husbands have gambled away their entire pay checks on pinball have complained against the devices.”
Additionally, stories written at the time of the initial ban reported that, “The mechanism, it states, tend against peace and good order, encourage vice and immorality and constitute a nuisance.”