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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

First We Take Out All The Pinball Machines

One whale of a website here, chronicling Logan County and Lincoln Illinois History, with an extensive section on gaming and the peculiar nature of enforcement in the sporting life, this circa 1950

In May of 1950 Governor Adlai Stevenson began to order the Illinois State Police to raid businesses throughout Illinois in order to confiscate illegal gambling devices. Stevenson had been elected Governor by a landslide because of his campaign promise to reform government. Once elected, he was pressured to move against illegal gambling and the corruption associated with it. Caught in a dilemma, the Governor experienced a heart-felt need to crack down on gambling (and the need to fulfill campaign promises), but attempted to do so in a way that would not create political backlash--gambling devices added to the bottom line of many small businesses because countless citizens patronized the various gambling devices (slots, pinballs, punchboards, and fishbowls, for example). Stevenson would have preferred local authorities to enforce anti-gambling laws, and he would have preferred enforcing them in private clubs as well as in "the corner tavern." On October 11, 1950, Stevenson ordered the Illinois State Police to conduct extensive gambling raids in many taverns, restaurants, and other businesses in Logan County and Lincoln, the county seat--but not the private clubs, for example: the Moose, the Eagles, the American Legion, the V.F.W., and the Elks. The State Police raid Lincoln, Logan County, and other sites in Macon County on October 11, 1950, was the fifth in a series throughout Illinois. The raids in Lincoln touched off legal proceedings against the owners of the gambling machines--especially one-ball pinball machines--and those who offered these machines in their places of business. These 1950 State Police raids in Lincoln and Logan County sparked legal drama that ensnared state, county, and city police; lawyers; an assistant attorney general of Illinois; circuit and county judges; businessmen; ministers; mayors; city council members; county board members; a city attorney; and many private citizens. The controversial civil trial of the state vs. the pinball machines continued into 1951, giving rise to additional proceedings aimed at controlling amusement devices and eliminating corruption. The legal proceedings stemming from the 1950 State Police raid also inspired a controversial "Good Government" movement in the early to mid 1950s. In 1954, the local Good Government Council provided information that led to charges of corruption against a local justice of the peace. After his acquittal, this justice of the peace retaliated by suing his accusers for $900,000.

which lead to the formation of the Lincoln Pinball Operators Association
Mr. Trapp had been hired by nine members of the Lincoln Pinball Operators Association--the owners of the confiscated gambling devices--to defend the owners against the state's petition to destroy the devices as illegal gambling equipment. In court, Mr. Trapp came out swinging--he filed a motion to dismiss the state's petition based on the argument that the devices were taken by "unlawful search and seizure." Trapp's motion to dismiss was also based on the argument that the state's petition failed to show that the machines were used for gambling.

All good clean fun! 76 pinball machines were seized in Lincoln during these raids. Of course this was before home video games took hold in Logan County. Here's a shot of the website keeper, none other than Fred Blanford, Sr., of the illustrious Blanfords of Logan County, well known to many a Wildcat, (most likely a relative of Fred Blanford, a mid-1980's Illini)


Anonymous said...

76 pinball machines is a lot for one pinball seizure in Lincoln. Hope the Gov Quinn has no plans for Wii seizures as it could throw a wrench into this economic recovery. Kudos to Mr. Blanford for being on the case. Yes FJB was a top character in U/C in the 80's. bbd

sempleman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sempleman said...

Actually, the website was created and is maintained by another Lincolnite, Darold Leigh Henson, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus of English at Missouri State University. It is quite a remarkable site!

Anonymous said...

The machines were all for "entertainment purposes only", right?

Ask EEP about the gaming we witnessed in Hog City one night.

By the way, we have "charity bingo" in Alabama. Don't ask.


EEP said...

BEP and I witnessed what might be described as "Wet and Wild" Joker Poker. Whole new angle. Whole new challenge.

Anonymous said...

EEP, would you consider that player to have been dedicated?


EEP said...

Most definitely. In a zone and could not be stopped. By anything.

Anonymous said...

Stop the presses: I hear the famous purple house has been resided and that it is no longer purple.

Hay carumba!


D. Leigh Henson said...

Thanks, Sempleman, for identifying me as the author-publisher of the Web page about gambling. I dedicated that page to Fred Blanford because he inspired me and gave me much info about that gambling history (as well as other info used in my community history Web site of Lincoln, IL). Sadly, he passed away in the fall of 2008. I dearly miss him for the info he always shared and for his wit and wisdom.

Unknown said...

Yes I am an alum of the tribe of Illini from the late 80's. I can recall many stories of dad playing pinball and slots when he was a tyke. More than half a century later and our government is no less corrupt or more effecteve. They just have their hands deeper into our collective pockets. Thanks Leigh for forwarding this url.

Fred the younger

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