The origins of pinball are intertwined with the history of many other games. In late 1700's, spring launched pinball was invented and by 1930's it became one of the most popular games in the world.
Surprisingly, New York mayor Fiorello La Guardia banned the game in New York City in the early 1940s and it remained illegal until 1976. He believed that it robbed school children of their hard earned nickels and dimes. La Guardia spearheaded major raids throughout the city, collecting thousands of machines and he participated alongside the police in destroying the machines with sledgehammers before dumping the remnants into the city's rivers.
The ban ended when Roger Sharpe (a star witness for the AMOA - Amusement and Music Operators Association) testified in April 1976 before a committee in a Manhattan courtroom that pinball games had become games of skill and were no longer games of chance (i.e. gambling).