Pinball In Seattle Had Corrupt And Violent Beginnings

Sep 23, 2017

Pinball was considered gambling in the 1950s and 1960s. But Seattle's city leaders, police and King County Prosecutor Charles O. Carroll all turned a blind eye to the game as part of what was known as the "Tolerance Policy." 

"The city decided officially, the council and the mayor, to tolerate a certain level of illegal activity knowing it was illegal by state law," former King County Prosecutor Christopher Bayley explained. "But deciding if they licensed it, and controlled it, it would keep out the big, bad boys from back east who were known to be even worse than the local gamblers." 

Bayley wrote about the "Tolerance Policy" in his book, "Seattle Justice: The Rise and Fall of the Police Payoff System in Seattle." And he told 88.5's Ariel Van Cleave pinball was a surprisingly good target for corruption and violence because of the tens of millions of dollars in profits the games generated.