WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A major city in Westchester County is finally going to drop its longstanding prohibition on amusement arcades.
That will open the door for Esports, Laser tag, and more, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported Monday.
In downtown White Plains, you can open a beer hall or a tattoo parlor, but not an amusement arcade.
“Unusual. I guess they don’t like kids having fun anymore,” resident Jordani Ramos said.
A British company learned the hard way when it prepared to open an Esports facility at the Galleria Mall last year. It leased a space and even moved in some equipment, before realizing the zoning code didn’t allow it.
The local law dates to a time when parents were demanding warning labels on rap albums, and Times Square was far from family friendly, CBS2’s Aiello reported.
“There was a time when Times Square was seedy, and they had a lot of arcades. Things were happening there that were not favored, and I think in general communities didn’t think arcades were a good thing to have,” White Plains Mayor Thomas Roach said.
Religious leaders upset by video game violence pushed for and won an arcade ban in the 1970s. White Plains briefly repealed it before reinstating the ban in 1999.
But now, with Esports facilities opening in communities such as New Rochelle, and lots of vacant retail space available for adaptive re-use, the city council is expected to drop the ban to allow Esports, Laser tag and other amusement-related activities.
“I’m excited for the kids in the future, in the near future. That would be a great business in White Plains,” resident Joseph Danyo said.
It’s seen as a key piece in helping the downtown malls survive as entertainment destinations.
The city council will soon set a date for a public hearing, and is expected to vote on dropping the arcade ban before summer.