Because this is San Francisco, and because we've legislated everything from the satchels you carry your beer and tampons home in to the number of Chipotles allowed in a neighborhood, there is a law on the books pertaining to how many pinball and Galaga machines are allowed per square foot in an arcade or bar setting.
The law, obviously, dates to the 1980s, and as The Examiner reports, there was some concern around vagrancy and bad behavior connected to places that housed such "mechanical amusement devices."
...As games such as “Pac-Man” and “Asteroids” created a generation of arcade machine addicts, San Francisco cracked down on the behavior, citing concerns ranging from sidewalk congestion to “petty crimes in the vicinity of these machines.
Current law limits arcade games to 10 per location, with the exact number further limited by the square footage of the space. One spot that's been operating in violation of this ordinance is Free Gold Watch on Waller Street in the Upper Haight. What started as a screen-printing shop has expanded into a part-time arcade, as owner Matthew Henri started collecting vintage pinball machines and other games to draw foot traffic and fill some extra square footage. He's now got 34 of them, and an in-house pinball league has sprung up, and Supervisor London Breed is bringing some legislation before the Board today to lift this decades-old, dumb piece of legislation so that Henri won't face fines. Regardless, he's going to be required to pay $744 to apply for a permit from the Entertainment Commission, and use those pinball quarters to pay $300 renewal fees every year.
Supervisor Scott Wiener has also joined the fight, and he's looking to lift the ban for the Castro and Upper Market in order to allow Project 22 the new arcade bar concept from Blackbird owner Shawn Vergara to move forward at 2200 Market Street.
And just to repeat: pinball league. There should obviously be more of this. Because I for one have already had enough of games on screens.
Update: At the Supes' meeting, the proposed change got provisional approval. [Castro Biscuit]