Most famous for building Vandeveer’s Bathing Pavilion Carousel, the very first carousel, Charles Looff went on to create a number of other amusements including the odd gambling game kept alive at Looff’s Lite-A-Line.
Originally built in 1941 for Looff’s Pike amusement park in Long Beach, California, Lite-A-Line combines the tactile mechanics of pinball with the random number selection of bingo. Players use a pinball-style plunger to fire a ball up a track where it falls randomly back down one of a number of lines, which are in turn chosen by a caller to be winners, as in bingo. Bets generally begin as small as $1 and pay out around $15 making it a low enough stakes game for the average player.
After The Pike was closed in 1979, the Lite-A-Line games were preserved and moved inland to new locations until finally settling into their current location in 2000. In addition to the historic game, Looff’s Lite-A-Line also acts as as a museum remembering The Pike and some of Looff’s other attractions. The displays contain vintage signs, historic photographs and even a restored roller coaster car.
While the Lite-A-Line game has been upgraded to use modern swipe cards and other such gambling standards, the game is played much the same way it was in 1941. Even though his many parks may have closed Looff’s amusements have a special way of standing the test of time.
Update June 14, 2023: A sign on the door said they were forced to close until further notice. The games are removed, although neon signs, a pool table, and other fixtures are still inside.