Operators how are your earnings?

Hey fellow operators, thought it might be kinda neat to get a consensus of earnings. If you can share your pin earnings that is.
Our new Sterns only average $250 per month in high traffic locations.

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We have a pretty good location, with a good mix of regulars (Hi, if you’re reading this! We love you all!) and casuals. Earnings varies a lot from title to title. Since we’re not in the US it doesn’t make sense to just translate earnings into dollars, since costs and such are different, but games seem to earn back their purchase cost in about 18 months on average. We don’t have very much data to go on yet (been in business for just over 2 years), so some of this is forward-looking to some degree.

depends on the location. I have some games (old EM’s) that make $20-$40 a month and that’s fine. Paying up to $400.00 for a game makes it worthwhile once they are fixed and proofed. Most of my modern games make more, but I do have a Harlem Globetrotters that makes $100.- a week. So, location, location, location.




18 months after location split and operating costs?

Back in 2004 our pingames earned $100-$150 a week but they also cost considerably less to purchase.

Yes, after split. This is operating-as-a-hobby, so the only running costs are parts, insurance and other minor stuff. We don’t pay ourselves any salary, and use all net earnings on buying more new games.


Your not really making a good case to buy new Equipment my distributor would love you :slight_smile:

This is simply the cost of doing business. If you’re focusing on return on investment then a smaller investment means fit you don’t have to worry about how much the game is making per week or per month as much. And a big part of my pperating games is to spread pinball culture. Now, I love playing dialed in. It’s a damn fine game. But if I’m buying an $8,000 game and I’m not charging at least a dollar a play, I’m not going to make my money back in less than a decade after my split. Not only that, but Bill acceptors can only take so many bills before you have to empty them. I know a few operators who love their bill collectors but don’t love having to stop by twice a week just to pull money out of the games. I know, I know… what a horrible problem to have. I also know of a few operators who will buy new games, and then operate it for about six to eight weeks. If they’re not seeing consistent returns they’ll put it out to pasture or just sell it outright to make their money back to put towards another game. That’s right WWE, I’m looking atchoo.


Not a professional op or anything, I put my Grand Prix in a local barcade and it probably had about 200 plays @ $0.25/play (3 ball) after the first month, but then I gave up and swapped it with my Tommy because it was probably costing me half that in parts alone, not to mention the time to drive over every week and fix something.

Before the split, my games earn anywhere from $60 to $600 a month.

The good ones “pay themselves off” in 1-2 years, but that doesn’t include cost/time for repairs, which I haven’t been very good at keeping track of. The game doesn’t fall much in value anyway, so it’s really more of an income producing asset than it is some sort of thing that would be paid off but become valueless at the end (though this was nearly what happened to people operating arcades in the 80s and 90s).

I run leagues and/or tournaments at my two top locations (of three), and that makes a big difference.


I’m a bit reluctant to disclose numbers as Seattle is a fairly competitive pinball scene even as far as operators go. I’d still like to share a small tidbit though. At Flip Flip Ding Ding one of our consistent top 5 earners is Black Knight 2000. Occasionally it will even crack the top or top 2. Granted in my obviously biased opinion it plays incredibly well and is done up with some extra playfield lighting to look nice in a very dark bar. The machine may have a neat story as well but you’ll have to swing by when I’m bartending to hear it. :wink:


I will admit im a bit worried about the future of pinball, baced on the current earnings and the run away equipment prices. We will be looking at non licensed titles that we can operate longer. Has anyone here experimented with pindemption?

What’s the logic here?

My experience with pins has shown me the opposite: theme is the #1 predictor of earnings.


Many of the localish barcade are on a cover + Freeplay model. Make money on food and alcohol sales, easier zoning, more people trying the machine then ever would drop coins in them. Less issues with a coin jam killing the earnings.

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Pro models have been going up for sure, but I think the biggest offender here is the insistence of putting Premium and LE machines on location. That’s raising costs by thousands per machine for features that barely translate to increased earnings.

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Unfortunately the ROI is too long. while the initial bump for a license helps when the license becomes stale our customers tend to feel like we are providing old equipment. Keep in mind our customers are location owners and really don’t know much about Pinball.

This implies that non-licensed games are cheaper, which I don’t believe is actually true?

They are not cheaper we can just operate them longer.

Would love to hear more detail about this. Are you talking about pinball specifically? What type of venue? Any other info?

I have three locations, and have only been doing this for four years, but this is not at all my experience.

I’d make a very large wager that, all told, WOZ will out-earn Dialed In by a large margin in the long term.