I currently operate 23 pins across 3 locations in my town. On the low end, a game brings in a buck or two per day. But a brand new game at my best location (a barcade) might be $20-30 a day in the first few weeks. That location is pretty good...Top 10? in the area.
Do not do 50/50. The location, who makes tens of thousands per month on their regular business, is going to end up with a few hundred more dollars at 50/50. Meanwhile, since you're not getting a cut of any of their other revenue (including the extra revenue generated by your machines, that are going to keep people hanging out longer in their establishment), 75/25 makes you 50% more money.
At two of my locations, I've taken over for a previous operator who was getting 50/50, and I ended up getting a better split. They wanted to keep doing 50/50 and I suggested 75/25. Here was the email I sent:
"50/50 and 60/40 are common in the industry, but you're getting a totally difference service at that split. One of the main reasons that 50/50 works for other companies is that they are providing a variety of different types of machines (video games, pinball, pool tables, jukeboxes, etc). Many of those are relatively low effort. Pinball requires the most maintenance by *far* and the machines are some of the most expensive as well.
Here is what you're getting from me at a 75/25 split on pinball machines:
- Great playing, well maintained games. Go play at Press Play to see for yourself. I'm a top level player, and I play all my games routinely to make sure I'm happy with how they play.
- Quick turnaround on repairs and maintenance. I live less than a mile away, and it's rare that I can't have something fixed within 48 hours.
- An in with the local pinball community. I go to shows, leagues, tournaments, and parties all over Colorado. It's easy for me to get the word out. I run an active Facebook group, and have 70-80 people that I email regularly about pinball.
- At Press Play, I run monthly tournaments and ongoing weekly league nights. I'd love to build this into a destination where tournaments and league nights are possible.
- Regular collection and earnings reports (broken down by game).
If we end up expanding to other types of machines, it would be fair to do a different split for those."
The other thing, of course, is that they are unhappy with their current service. They're not happy with what they're getting at 50/50...and you will be offering a higher level of service at 75/25.
Even though I consider my operating (which I fell into accidentally) to be on the successful end of the spectrum compared to others I've talked to, it wouldn't be worth it if I didn't love pinball. That should be the first thing. Love pinball? Don't mind putting your machines out into the world to make a little extra money? Like the idea of building up a community that feels like your own and giving people the opportunity to have better playing games than they otherwise would have?
If you're answering yes to all those, then you should go for it. Otherwise, routing pinball machines is probably the hardest way to earn quarters.