Company Profile – Power House Entertainment Group


Put a “Power House” in Your Corner

Longtime Arcade Operators Offer Services to Newcomers & Seasoned Pros Alike

As evidenced by the new faces at the recent Expo, people still want to enter the amusement business. The problem, asserts Stephen Bennett, managing partner of Power House Entertainment Group, is that they don’t know how.

They might start by attending tradeshows or reading RePlay, he said, but eventually, they’ll want access to a team of seasoned professionals with decades of hands-on experience running their own locations, and also successfully managing others’, to give them a guiding hand. That’s where his Power House team comes in.

From site selection, feasibility studies, finding an architect, selecting a designer and securing financing to game selection, staff hiring and training, and advice on food offerings, Power House offers a full turnkey service for new center development and operation. And if you’re already in the industry, they’ve got you covered, too. They leverage their expertise to troubleshoot issues, update and elevate the customer experience, fine-tune operations for greater profitability, or help the business to grow into additional locations.

Steve Bennett and Steve Hall with Key

Power House Entertainment Group’s Steve Bennett (left) and Steve Hall catch up with RePlay’s Key Snodgress at ICE’s Amusement Expo booth. The duo are laser-focused on bringing their decades of operations expertise to people who want to get into the industry and also to amusement pros looking to upgrade, enhance and grow their businessesl


So, just who is Steve Bennett? Those familiar with the Australian arcade scene will remember him from Fun & Games Family Leisure Centers, the chain he and a former partner created in 1990, inspired by the foot traffic of Malcolm Steinberg’s Time Zone arcades. (Bennett recalled getting the industry bug while sitting at a coffee shop with his partner. They were having a cup of coffee and watching the people come and go at the arcade. “It looked like a fun business!” he said, echoing the words he often hears from prospective clients.)

A whirlwind of success followed. A major Australian public company that operated cinemas across the country came calling, buying half interest in the firm. They then set about establishing game locations in theaters all across Australia. When that entity decided to sell the business, Bennett said he sat at home for three months, wondering where to make his next entrepreneurial mark.

As luck would have it, something that would repeat itself many times over the years occurred. In 1999, an industry friend got in touch about a couple eager to open an entertainment center in Long Beach, Calif. They ­didn’t know who to work with, and the friend thought of Steve. Bennett accepted, expecting it to be a swift three-month assignment and thinking that he might even pick up some American concepts to implement in a new Australian location upon his return.

The project went so well, the owners asked if he’d stay on to help open other stores. Bennett called his wife Carol back home and they decided to pack up their kids, then ages 6 and 8, and start a life in Southern California. They ended up opening five more locations over the next year, with Bennett taking an ownership stake in the company: Power Station.

Another important thing that happened in 1999 was when Bennett met Stephen Hall, who has been Power House’s Senior VP of Operations since that time. While working for a game manufacturer, Hall joined the factory’s sales rep when making a call on Bennett. The two Steves hit it off. Bennett needed an operations and technical director for the Long Beach location, and Hall joined up.

“And we’ve been together ever since – for 25 years now. He’s my right hand, my left hand…and when I’m on holiday, he’s both,” Bennett said with a chuckle. “We have a very unique and wonderful relationship.”

Commenting on the journey, Hall said, “I’ve really enjoyed all the years working with Steve and couldn’t ask for anything more. It’s allowed me to learn a lot of things, and to have the ability and opportunity to do things I never would have dreamed of. There’s the running a business, or the operation side of things, but we’ve also developed a few products ourselves in-house over the years and worked with other manufacturers to help them improve their products and other things of that nature.”

Today, Power House operates some 2,000 machines up and down the west coast in malls, theme parks and bars where they’ve got a large music business. “But, we’re very selective where we go and what we do, placing machines in a lot of different venues,” Bennett said, adding that they no longer own brick-and-mortar arcades as they did in their early days.

“Because we’ve been doing it for so long,” Bennett said, “we’ll take on different projects, such as someone will call and say they have a center that’s not working, asking if we can help. People come to us all the time on a smaller scale, but it was only 2018 when we started getting into the real big stuff.”

Power House Entertainment Group location shot

“The big stuff” has included domestic and international work, including significant projects in Puerto Rico.

“In early 2018, a friend of mine suggested I speak to this person in Puerto Rico – and this is a classic example of where we are now and what we’re trying to do,” Bennett said. “He owned a shopping mall and wanted to get in the amusement business, but didn’t know who to speak to. He’d had some discussions with people about supplying games and what have you, but he didn’t have anyone to set it all up.

“So, I chatted with him for about an hour, and the rest is history. We went there, did about 14,000 square feet of games, eight lanes of bowling, a ropes course and assisted with the K-1 Speed Karting there, plus set up a VR driving simulation area. People were asking what we were doing, going all the way to Puerto Rico to open a fun center, but I said it’s just a plane ride! I think at this point, Steve and I’ve been there about 20 times and it’s one of our proudest achievements.”

It came during a challenging time for Puerto Rico, too: right after Hurricane Maria. “We traveled there and interviewed people, hiring and training a staff of 120 people. Some of them are still with the company today, working at the client’s second location. We opened that one in November 2023. It’s 135,000 sq. ft. with a 22,000 sq. ft. arcade and a VR park, which the team is very excited about,” he said.

“Then, because we did those two locations, another company we do work for, ProFun, approached us to do a project for them in Puerto Rico. We laughingly ask each other, ‘Can’t we get anything in the States?’ We opened that in 2021, a fantastic location with great food selection right in San Juan, and it’s doing very well.” That led to another project for ProFun, this one in Chicago, that opened in November 2023.

“It’s really interesting that this one project in Puerto Rico has borne all this other opportunity,” Bennett said, and it’s that trajectory that’s leading the major push into the consulting side of the business that they’re now undertaking. To that point, they are currently in negotiations with a client in Peru who is looking to open four locations.

Power House Entertainment Group - location image
How They Work

Basically, Power House offers a full turnkey operation from start to finish, also hiring and training all staff, including the technicians. But, they don’t just hand over the keys at the grand opening. They offer ongoing location management services as well to ensure success.
“We do a minimum of three months of management after opening,” Bennett said, adding that they also offer one- and two-year contracts on a client-by-client basis. The three-month minimum is because, he said, “I don’t want to walk away from location once we set it up – I think doing so is bad for the location and the client.”

Power House says a key to their success is that they use the same organizational systems to their clients’ locations that they use in their own business, practices fine-tuned since their earliest days. And, already comfortable managing locations along the west coast, many far from their Buena Park headquarters, remote work in another state – or another country – is no big thing.

Their standard operating procedure is to fly in for quarterly meetings and hold weekly calls with location management, a function they term “helicopter rolls.” They get the managers on a call and “We look at all the figures and revenues, the giveaways, etc. – we go through everything,” Bennett said. “And before we end the call, we ask if anyone has any problems they’d like to discuss. We want them to know they’ve always got someone they can link to.”

It’s an effective way of helping manage the business. “You can look at a report and, in a matter minutes, understand what’s happening, whether it’s going in the right direction or sideways,” Bennett said.

“There are just so different things we can do based upon all the years of experience we’ve had, we know what works and what doesn’t, so in addition to turnkey location setup, we also offer the ability to troubleshoot. Those may be the most challenging because we have to find a way to get everyone on our side when we walk in that door. It’s, ‘Oh, here come the consultants.”

In those troubleshooting efforts, they’ve helped a client who called about someone stealing from him and another where the staff was feeling a bit dejected and was looking for help restoring morale. In between, they’ve become a trusted advisor to a banker who’s never owned a business as he puts together an FEC and other tasks.

Power House Entertainment Group - location image

“The key tenet is that we care,” Hall said. “We really do treat every dollar as if it were our own.” An area where this especially comes into play is when buying or upgrading games, something that’s always been important, but even more so with rising game prices of the last several years, they say.

“What we tell our customers is the same as what we tell ourselves: the cash box tells you what to do. It always does…it doesn’t lie. You put a game in, it does well and then you watch it start to trail off. What we’ll do is we’ll take them out of an A grade location, put them in a B-grade location and follow it through all the way through. We tell our customers when they have to reinvest and can prove it by showing them the numbers.

“It’s especially difficult for someone new coming into this business,” Bennett explained. “It’s like going into a candy or jewelry store. Everything’s so blingy. The beauty of having us on your side is that we’re data-driven. That’s purely and simply ‘it.’

Hall added, “It would be easy just to take their shopping list and provide the games,” Hall added. “Even though we might want to pull the trigger and let them do what they want, we care so much that we want to prevent them from making those mistakes and make sure they spend the money wisely.”

“We don’t let our customers be the guinea pigs,” he said of their data-driven nature. “We’ll always do our due diligence and sometimes purchase a piece of equipment that we think might be a risk to find out if it makes sense, and use that information to help our customers. We also have a lot of resources and access to numbers from locations around the world and use that information to help our customers,” Hall continued.

“My saying is that the business is like a sponge, you just have to squeeze out every last piece of it,” Bennett continued. “And when we’ve done that, we still always go back and look, should we try this? What do you think of that? It’s something you have to do. You can’t stand still otherwise I think you’ll just evaporate. So, we’re always changing stuff around, which makes life interesting!

“People get into this industry thinking you just get games, plug them in and make money. Well, it’s a lot more involved than that!” Bennett said. “What I want readers to know is that we’re here, we’ve been in the industry for a long time, have a lot of experience and would like to help people who want to get into the business. More importantly, we care. That’s not said lightly. We truly look at each business we’re involved with like it’s our own. I think that’s hugely important when setting up a business for someone, especially when they’re spending that amount of money on it that it takes to open a new FEC.”

To find out more about their services, email [email protected], phone 562-547-6346 or them online:

The Power House Family

Power House Entertainment Group is much more than the two Steves. Bennett said, “We have a great team of about 25 people who have been with us as long as Steve and I’ve been together. We’re very lucky and I have to say I pinch myself.”

Power House Entertainment Group LOGOOther key members of the team include HR specialist Dawn Withers who’s been at Power House for 24 years. She also serves as office manager and handles the redemption and plush ordering, among other tasks. “She’s an absolute diamond,” Bennett said. “She has done so much for us.”

And Bennett’s wife Carol, who has worked with her husband in the business since the early days, oversees all of the accounts in her Accounting Services role. “No one gets a penny out of us without going through Carol,” Bennett said.

How Bennett feels about his people became evident during Covid, said Hall.

“When Covid came along, that was a real test. We had people who’d been with us all this time and we were hearing horror stories of employees being furloughed,” Bennett said. “All I wanted to do is find out how we could keep everybody and pay them. I know it sounds cliché but they’re the backbone of our business. The words’ relationship’ and ‘family’ are bandied about too freely, but we really do all know and care about each other.”

Hall said, “Thankfully, due to Steve’s awesome business acumen, he’s kept us going no matter what. Everybody goes through trying times, but it’s how you go through them that shows what your abilities are, and Steve’s have been magnificent in that regard. He cares about his employees; we know that we’re not just people within an organization. When our employees need help, whether it’s a personal or financial need, we always do whatever we can and that just speaks volumes.”

What they stress to their clients is that they extend that same level of care to them as they work to achieve their own amusement industry dreams.


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