I was some place this week, and at some point had a flash "wow a row of pinball machine would look great here" so I started reading and thinking about this.
I know this has all been discussed ad nauseam but let me summarize a bit some random information I picked up and calculations to be made, let me know if I got anything wrong.
-If you have one or two lonely machines anywhere, you don't have an attraction and it's almost never worth the trouble. If you're not a dedicated space (an arcade, museum, etc.), about 4 machines is a sweet spot where it may draw people and you're not just splitting the same money across more games.
-Of all type of coin ops, pinball is the worst ROI. Expensive machine, doesn't make that much money, a pain to deal with. *But* IMO if you want something that looks cool, not tacky, etc. and make it a destination, it's the best. Maybe you can complement it with one or two cool arcade machines which are less expensive and make more money (what are the big earners?) but if you want to "stay cool" you have to stay off the kiddie redemption stuff which have the best ROI.
-Theme is important, keeping your machines in tip top shape too if you want to be a pinball destination.
-How are people going to pay? At the very least you need a change machine nearby, better is bill acceptors or a change machine that takes credit cards.
-If you're in a bar you probably get most of your business during only a few hours throughout the week (end of the week nights, maybe some lunchtime) - if you're in some more public space you could expand your potential hours of business I would guess?
I'm going to go about it a bit with the assumption that you'd need to buy most things even if in reality you already own them. I'll put a * if it's something people would typically already own.
-5 brand new Stern Pros (one extra so you can rotate it out in case of trouble?) + 1 or 2 arcades - about 50k
-Some vehicle to carry them around - let's say 10k if you go cheap (but then you have to deal with the van!)*
-Let's say another 3k for whatever stuff I'm not thinking of (signage, etc?)
Total: about 65k
Let's say you don't want to pay it all out of pocket, you get a 45k loan and put up the other 20k.
-Either pay rent for the space monthly or give a cut of profits (because at the end of the day that split is really paying for the square footage you're taking up). In my case it's not a bar and I don't see them being interested in a cut of profits deal, so let's make up some number, 500$/month
-Pay back the loan, let's say over 10 years: that's about 500$/month at 5%
-Parts and whatnot: let's say about 100$/month on average
-Insurance: let's go with 100$/month
-Unless you're planning to do all maintenance on-site you'd need some storage place to work on the machines: 500$/month if you can find some tiny space or something*
-Tech time: something people do themselves but let's assume 1h/week/machine on average. That's about 15h/month, let's go with 50$ bucks per hour (I know that's on the low end). 750$/month*
Total: 2500 if you count everything, 700$ if you don't count the* and you assume a split instead of an upfront rent
-The actual money that goes in - very hard to estimate for me but let's say I make up something, and assuming it's a relatively popular spot that sees traffic during daytime - an average of 15 players per day across all machines, that put in an average of 5$. -2250$ ?? If you don't pay rent then it's a split and let's say that leaves you with 1800$ after a 4/1 split.
-If you do things legit and you don't try to double dip with the depreciation, you can say the machine depreciates about 3k over 3 years, and you can sell it back for 5k, but you then need to put it towards a new machine. So in theory that's not really a revenue but it ends up being flat. At the end of your operating adventure you do wind up with a 4-5 machine collection which you can then sell to get about 40k back (but you put in 20k up front, remember!)
So... long story short, if all these numbers aren't way off... if you do count everything, you're down 250$ per month. If you don't, you're up about 1000$ but then you spend a bunch of time taking care of the machines and it's not really scaleable.
Obviously the biggest variable is the money that goes in, and if I'm off there by a factor of 2 (for example 30 players per day on average would be 4.5k/month pre-split), then it becomes a decent deal.
So... what do you guys think?