From hunting big game to barring bingo: Here are 10 weird laws still on the books in Pa.

No bartering your kids. And no firing a paintball gun with someone who isn’t playing paintball. Got it?

By: - February 6, 2022 7:32 am

The Capitol building in Harrisburg (Capital-Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

By Harrison Cann

Every state has its share of archaic, weird and outdated laws, and Pennsylvania is certainly no exception. Here in the commonwealth, there are bizarre laws at the statewide and local levels, and although many of them aren’t enforced, some still remain on the books. Particularly at the municipal level, old statutes and ordinances are kept in place because the repeal process can be time-consuming and expensive.

Here are some of the zaniest laws that are still in place in Pennsylvania. You might’ve broken one without even knowing.

State Regulations

  • We bet you didn’t see this coming. Fortune telling for personal gain is illegal.
  • Better not hunt big game when the animal is swimming, or risk drowning in fines.
  • No accidents here. Your bedroom can’t be more than 200 feet from your bathtub, shower or toilet.
  • Game on? A person is prohibited from firing a paintball gun at another who is not playing paintball.
  • Don’t be left on the hook. Fishers must not use goldfish, comets, koi and common carp as bait.
  • State Blue Laws, a/k/a “Sunday Laws,” were established to stop activities from taking place on Sundays for religious or secular reasons. Here are two that didn’t stand the test of time: 
    • Old blue laws prohibited sports, musical and theatrical performances before 1 p.m. on Sundays. But after further review, the play stands.
    • Pump the brakes on car sales, too. Those transactions are off limits on Sundays as well.

    The state is not alone in drafting archaic rules. Municipal regulations can get weird, and often remain active regardless of enforcement: 

    • In Bensalem, bingo is only for non-felons. You’d only be able to play B4 you were locked up.
    • Hold your horses if you’re in Tarentum. It’s illegal to tie a horse (but not a dog) to a parking meter or streetlight pole.

Harrison Cann is a reporter for City & State Pa., where this story first appeared.

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