Public location coin drop expectations for short events

The place one of our leagues runs at just jacked prices up so that most games are $1.30-$1.70 a play.

Personally, I’ve always had a coin drop number around $5 in mind as being appropriate for a short competition. That plus $5 for the prize pool makes a cheap fun night. This is trending towards $20 a week though and that’s prohibitive.

What are your league/event targets for the required cost to play nightly? Specifically event entry and coin drop, not warmup games, bar tab, etc.

Would eliminating the prize pool hurt participation?

Our monthly public location tournament used to be free (plus coin drop), but now charges $1 to cover the IFPA fee. Prizes are bar/beer company swag and no one seems to mind. In fact, many forego claiming a prize because you can only have so many promotional t-shirts. :slight_smile:

We still get over 30 people coming out most months, sometimes as many as 50+.

What’s reasonable totally depends on your demographic and who you’re looking to attract.


At MCPL it is $5 plus coin drop, so usually around $9. We typically have between 20-30 players. In our current league we have 26 players.

So last month we had an experimental league at a private location. Not a home. About 40 top notch pins, classics and Em’s to Stern LE’s. The cost was $25/week for 5 weeks with half going to prize pool and the other half going to the operator. We had nine players show up the first week and topped out at 11 players. Clearly it was cost prohibitive for most players.


I think ≤$10 for the non-prize portion is the magic number for free play leagues like the one you’re describing. At least around here.


Our league doesn’t really have any expectations for coin drop. The bigger considerations are:

Are the games clean and well maintained?
Are they welcoming to a league?
Will they (or the operator) give us keys, if needed?
How are the food and drinks?
Is the location convenient to most players?

Granted, we don’t have any locations charging more than $1 a game, but I would suggest not ruling out a location based on coin drop alone. If it’s a good spot and the games are clean and working, the extra cost is worth it IMO.


As a participant in the said league, my vote would be for removal of the prize pool. Even with the weekly events it’s still mainly going to be the same people winning most of the time so we are just padding their pockets. This coming from a player that very much could hit the payouts the majority of the weeks as well.

To me this was another challenge with the change in direction of the league as it was now costing $20 a month plus extra coin drop (we now play 7-8 games a week vs 5). Realistically it’s not much more than before but it is more and now the payouts are going to less people (no B,C,D payouts).

I really think the recent price increase wouldn’t have gone over as bad if it was communicated better and the games were kept up better. The fact that 75% of the games are not working as they should plus the increase is what is pushing people over the edge. This arcade has made it very clear in the past they don’t appreciate anything but the casual pinball player and redemption game players and this is just another effort to push us out. I just wish their was a better option for us as the only other real location is not real accessible weeknights.

The worst part was how they increased the price. They didn’t adjust the credits needed for a game but they changed the amount of tokens given for a dollar and just put this silly sign on their token machines.


Our local stern army monthly is $5 to prizes, plus coin drop of $0.50 to $1.00 for 10-15 games, Probably ~$15 total each time?

Selfie league is similar. Coin drop for 10-15 games at $0.75 to $1.00, plus however much you drop qualifying (probably another $5 for me, more for some people). Prizes provided by the op.

If it was much more it might concern me, but mostly because I don’t think I’d have time to play that many games… I don’t see any of the local games going above $1.00/credit

Can’t you just bring quarters?

That’s what I think the plan is from most at least temp as they are switching to card readers in a month or 2. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I hadn’t thought of buying bulk used tokens off ebay for the time being…

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perfect… Don’t like the pricing just steal!

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My league costs $40 up front, plus $2.50 in quarter drop every week. We’re very fortunate to have the operator and the league organizer be one in the same, so they are able to turn the price per game down to fifty cents at the beginning of the night and back up as needed once games have been completed. Games are also free on the first and last nights of the season.

$1.30 to $1.70 is the highest I’ve ever heard of. Seattle tops out at $1 per play with most locations being 50-75 cents. Our bar league is free to play in. The bars pay $100 per season per team, which they make back probably five times over by having at least five weeks of twenty thirsty pinball players on what would otherwise be a slow night. Many bars sweeten the pot for tournaments as well.

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To be clear, I didn’t say I was going to do it but the thought was there as they are making it easy for anyone to do that. It’s like my college roomate. He would buy his books, go to a copier and copy all the pages of the book and then return it. I ask him why and his answer was, “serves them right for charging more than 8 cents a page for the book.” Wasn’t the right thing to do but he did have a point.

To be technical, All the games say 2, 3, 4, 5 “tokens per play”. They do not say “(insert company) tokens per play”. It’s common sense that it should be that companies tokens but technically speaking, that’s not required by the rules presented to the customer. So that company needs to be specific or modify their mechs to prevent that (which they are doing by converting to card play).

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What in the holy fuck is this nonsense?


It’s called reality. If you don’t think someone would do it then you would be very wrong as people do it today all the time. Have you never gone to a place that uses tokens, got coins from their machine and 1 or more wasn’t that companies?

I’m just explaining the facts of what can be done, not that I or someone should do it but when a company goes and does something as stupid as this (3 tokens for a dollar) they really should be smart and look at the conversion rate of other companies and how many tokens you get for a dollar there.

I do find it funny that you are flabbergasted about this but no comments made when people suggest just using quarters. Yes, quarts equate to money but you would still be “stealing” 33 cents on the dollar for each play. So, I guess that is OK as it’s just a little bit of stealing when in reality stealing is stealing whether it’s 1 cent or 1.30 cents.

Would pose as a good legal question. One way you are abiding by the rules set out by the company as you are using tokens where the other you are not as you are using quarters.


I really don’t want this thread to go way off topic, please drop the crap about stealing games or whatever. Pinballz has done a pretty good job of pissing off their regulars but this is not about that.

So far it sounds like $25 a week is too much even for a “good” location. Other than that it depends on the experience but probably $5-$10/week and not much more.

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I’m pretty certain that’s illegal

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Simple answer - The cost change from pinballs is smaller than the cost change in playing league in general. If the “cost” is now what is driving people away, the change in format is more to blame. We went from $6 a month “league cost” and then, on average, $17.25 a month in coin drop for a total of $23.25(23 games at average of 3 tokens to play) to $20 a month in “League cost” and $27.75 in coin drop (28 games at average of 3 tokens to play) for a total of $47.75. The difference in coin drop a month is $10.50 (some account by more games played though) and the difference in league cost is $14 which is almost 3 times the cost or 300% inflation.

The reality is that the venue’s attitude towards their patrons is what is causing this concern and the league is latching onto the “3 for $1” as their marching grounds but if everyone wants to be logical, the real increase in league cost was our own doing.

Not the popular answer but it’s the facts and you know I’m not one to give the “popular” answer.

Removed to honor LAW’s wishes. Again, I wasn’t saying I would do it or condone it. Just examples of how the companies policy could impact them.