he big bowling show is coming to Las Vegas later this month. A lot of talk among conventioneers, along with plenty of activity on its trade show floor, will center on the coin-op business, its machines and the prizes that put the sizzle on the redemption steak. There are some readers…relatively new to this industry…who may think a “marriage” between our trade and bowling is kind of new. Actually, it goes way, way back, as a lot of veteran route owners know. The appearance of amusement games against the wall of a bowling center’s concourse is a “given” in most cases, while a center without them would be noticed. So, why all the “sudden activity?”
What’s happened, and continues to happen, is that bowling all by itself has seen better days at some centers. Their owners, like all good businessmen, started to look for something to add-on that might bring the profits up and the people back. Many discovered that they’d been staring at it all along, only this time, a lot started tearing out some of the alleys and refitting their buildings to create actual game arcades rather than just stringing stuff along the wall like usual.
Others doing “okay” with business as usual saw or more likely heard what was happening and, again like any good businessmen, wanted to make even more money. So, they followed suit and decided on a coin-op facelift with a building contractor, and with newer and more games provided by their regular operator, sometimes by buying directly from a distributor or in some other cases (not all that many, we hope) from a game maker.
The playing public, of course, doesn’t know or care where the games come from. They just appreciate being able to “go out to the bowling alley” and have fun while waiting for a lane…or just going to play our games without bowling! Imagine that? Of course you can. Kids have been coming to bowling centers just to play games for decades. In many cases, going all the way back to the video boom, the town’s bowling center was the only “arcade” around.
Speaking of which, the last two days of the bowling summit meet will stage a large trade show at the familiar Las Vegas Convention Center (the first three days will have seminars and such at the Paris Hotel). The show will be very “arcadey” with the newest machines and redemption prizes on display along with the actual bowling stuff. Even RePlay will have a booth!
Bowling’s more ardent embrace of amusement games is one more reason for the renewed vigor of arcades in general. Whether it’s the bowling alley, the bar arcade, the retro video room, the FEC extravaganza or some other iteration of a “game center,” it’s happening, dude! If you’re interested in all this bowling business, we’ve got lots of info inside to get you up to speed. Also visit www.bpaa.com.