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."