How Much Does It Cost to Start an Arcade Business? A Comprehensive Guide

Are you a fan of arcade games? Do you want to turn your passion into a profitable business? Starting an arcade business could be your ticket to success! But how much does it cost to start an arcade business, you might ask? Well, the answer is not straightforward. It depends on several factors, such as the size of the establishment, the number of games you want to have, and the location of your arcade.

Starting an arcade business can be a fun and exciting venture, but it requires careful planning and investment. Depending on the size of your establishment, the location, and the number of games you want to have, the cost of starting an arcade business can vary from $10,000 to $50,000 or more. Renting a space in a high-traffic area can significantly increase your expenses, but it can also attract more customers. On the other hand, buying used arcade machines can save you money, but it also requires maintenance and repair costs.

Despite the initial investment, starting an arcade business can be a profitable and rewarding endeavor. With the right location, marketing strategy, and selection of games, you can attract a loyal customer base and generate consistent revenue. So don’t let the cost of starting an arcade business discourage you from pursuing your dream. With careful planning and a commitment to success, you could be on your way to owning a thriving arcade business in no time!

Location and Rental Costs

Choosing the right location for your arcade business is crucial to its success. You need to find a location with heavy foot traffic and easy accessibility, preferably in a commercial or retail area. A location with high visibility and ample parking can attract more customers, which means more profits for your business.

However, prime locations come at a steep price. The rental costs for a commercial or retail space vary widely depending on several factors such as the location, size, and amenities. In a popular and densely populated area like New York City, the monthly rent for a 1,500 sq. ft. commercial space can range from $7,500 to $20,000. On the other hand, the same-sized space in a less popular city will cost significantly less, around $2,000 to $5,000 per month.

Factors Affecting Location and Rental Costs

  • Location: The location of your arcade business is the most significant factor affecting rental costs. Prime locations in commercial or retail areas with high foot traffic and visibility come at a premium price.
  • Size of the Space: The size of the space you need for your arcade business will determine the monthly rental costs. A larger arcade business will require more space and cost more to rent.
  • Amenities: If the commercial space you are renting already has amenities such as electricity, water, and other utilities, it can save you a lot of money. However, if you need to install these amenities yourself, it will add to your monthly expenses.

Negotiating with Landlords

When looking for a location for your arcade business, it is essential to learn to negotiate with landlords. Rent prices are not always set in stone, and you can negotiate with landlords to get a better deal. Always ask for a lower rent than the advertised price, and try to negotiate a long-term lease to get a discount. This will guarantee a steady stream of income for your landlord and make them more willing to give you a better deal.


Location and rental costs are significant expenses for starting an arcade business. Researching and finding the right location that fits your budget is essential. Negotiating with landlords can also save you money, and choosing a location with high foot traffic and visibility can attract more customers and increase your revenue.

City Size of Space (sq. ft.) Monthly Rental Cost
New York City 1,500 $7,500 – $20,000
Los Angeles 1,500 $5,000 – $10,000
Miami 1,500 $3,000 – $7,500
Dallas 1,500 $2,000 – $5,000

As you can see from the table above, the rental costs of a commercial or retail space in different cities vary widely. It is essential to consider the factors mentioned earlier and do your research to find the best location for your arcade business that fits your budget.

Licensing and Permits

Starting an arcade business requires obtaining various licenses and permits before opening the doors to the public. It is important to have all necessary permits in place to avoid any legal problems or fines in the future.

Here are some of the permits and licenses needed to start an arcade business:

  • Business License: A business license is a legal requirement for any business in the United States. It is necessary to obtain a business license from the local government before starting an arcade business.
  • Occupancy Permit: An occupancy permit is required to ensure that the arcade business premises meet all safety and health codes. The local government is responsible for issuing this permit.
  • Sales Tax Permit: This is required if your state collects sales tax. The sales tax collected on gaming machines and revenue generated must be reported to the state, and the permit must be renewed periodically.

It is essential to understand the legal requirements that come with opening an arcade business. The governing rules and regulations regarding licensing and permits vary by location. Thus, it is necessary to check with the local city hall or state’s business authority to acquire the necessary permits.

Another significant aspect of licensing and permits for an arcade business is ensuring that the games are legal and fall in line with the Gaming Control Board’s rules and regulations, along with zoning regulations.

Permit/License Typical Cost
Business License $50-$400
Occupancy Permit $200-$500
Sales Tax Permit $5-$100

It is essential to incorporate the cost of obtaining licensing and permits into the startup budget. The cost of legal compliance for permits and licensing varies depending on the location. However, it is a minor cost compared to potential legal fees that could add up just as quickly as the legal trouble.

Once all the permits and licenses are in place, it is time to focus on getting the arcade business off the ground with a solid business plan and budget.

Equipment and Gaming Machines

Starting an arcade business requires a substantial amount of investment in equipment and gaming machines. Although the cost varies depending on the size of the arcade and the number of games you intend to offer, the following sections will give an estimate of the costs.


  • Location Rental: Depending on the location, renting an arcade space can range from $1,000 to $10,000 per month.
  • Interior Design: The arcade space requires custom interior design that meets the gaming theme, and if done professionally, can cost between $10,000 and $50,000 including labor and materials.
  • Point of Sale System: You will need a system to manage transactions, which can cost around $2,000 to $7,000 depending on the features included.
  • Furniture: Tables, chairs, and desks will cost around $5,000 to $10,000, depending on how many you need.
  • Security System: Installing security cameras and alarms will cost around $5,000 to $10,000.

Gaming Machines

The most essential part of an arcade is the gaming machines. The cost of arcade machines varies widely based on several factors, including the age of the machine, condition, rarity, and most importantly, the type of game. Here’s a breakdown of the average cost of popular arcade games:

  • Arcade Video Games: Depending on the year of manufacture, arcade video game machines cost between $1,000 and $6,000.
  • Arcade Pinball Machines: Pinball machines come in various models, and the cost ranges from $2,000 to $10,000.
  • Prize Redemption Machines: Redemption machines include claw machines and vending machines, and their cost varies from $500 to $5,000.
  • Virtual Reality Machines: VR machines are relatively new in the arcade industry and cost around $10,000 to $50,000 per unit.


Starting an arcade business requires a significant investment in equipment and gaming machines. Although the cost can vary widely depending on the location, size of the arcade, and number of games offered. It’s crucial to estimate your startup costs and budget accordingly to avoid running out of funds halfway through the process. Researching and comparing prices from different suppliers will help you get the best deal possible, saving you money in the long run.

Type of Machine Average Cost
Arcade Video Games $1,000 – $6,000
Arcade Pinball Machines $2,000 – $10,000
Prize Redemption Machines $500 – $5,000
Virtual Reality Machines $10,000 – $50,000

Knowing the costs of equipment and gaming machines will help you budget for your arcade business startup costs effectively.

Renovations and Interior Design

Renovating and designing the interior of your arcade business is an essential part of creating a unique and appealing experience for your customers. This can include updating the flooring, lighting, wall paint, and decor. The cost of renovations and interior design will largely depend on the size of your arcade, the extent of the changes you want to make, and the materials you choose.

  • The cost of flooring will depend on the type you choose – it can range from $1 to $15 per square foot.
  • Lighting can range from $20 to $1,000 per fixture depending on the style and brand.
  • Wall paint can cost anywhere from $30 to $60 per gallon, and you may need several gallons depending on the size of your arcade.

Keep in mind that these costs do not include labor fees for contractors or professional interior designers. The cost for those services will vary depending on your location and the extent of the project.

If you want to create a themed arcade, the cost for interior design can increase significantly. For example, a retro 80s arcade theme may require custom wall installations and neon lighting, driving up costs. It’s important to budget accordingly and prioritize areas that will create the most impact for your customers.

Item Cost Estimate
Flooring $1 to $15 per square foot
Lighting $20 to $1,000 per fixture
Wall paint $30 to $60 per gallon

In conclusion, the cost for renovations and interior design in your arcade business will depend on several factors. Researching different materials and styles and obtaining multiple quotes from contractors will help you budget and create the best experience for your customers.

Marketing and Advertising

Marketing and advertising are critical components of any successful arcade business. In today’s competitive market, it’s not enough to just have a great facility with top-notch games; you also need to get the word out and make your business stand out from the competition.

  • Online Advertising: One of the most effective and cost-efficient ways to advertise your arcade business is via online ads. There are many platforms available for online advertising, including Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, and Instagram Ads, each with different pricing models that can fit a variety of budgets.
  • Social media: Social media is another cost-effective way to promote your business. You can create social media profiles for your business and post pictures and videos of your games, promote daily/weekly specials or events, and engage with your followers by responding to their comments and messages.
  • Print Advertising: Another way to advertise your arcade business is via traditional print advertising like flyers, brochures, and local newspapers. It can be more expensive than online ads, but it can be very effective in local areas.

It’s essential to have a marketing plan in place before opening your arcade business. This plan should outline the various tactics you’ll use to reach your target audience and how much you plan to spend on each. You should allocate a significant portion of your budget to marketing and advertising, as it’s the only way to generate the initial foot traffic that will bring in customers.

To make informed decisions about your advertising budget, it’s essential to track the ROI of your marketing campaigns. By tracking your campaigns regularly, you can estimate what techniques are bringing in the most significant ROI and adjust your campaign as needed.

Advertising channel Average Cost per Click Average Cost per Conversion
Google AdWords $2.32 $75
Facebook Ads $0.97 $65
Instagram Ads $0.85 $70

As you can see, online advertising is generally less expensive than traditional print advertising and has a more targeted audience, leading to higher conversion rates. However, it’s important to remember that no marketing strategy will succeed without a consistent and clear message. Ensure that your arcade has a defined brand message and target audience in mind whenever you create marketing and advertising campaigns.

Insurance costs

Running an arcade business requires you to take into account numerous expenses, and insurance is a crucial one. Adequate coverage can protect your business from financial losses caused by unexpected incidents like theft, fire, accidents, and lawsuits. The cost of insurance premiums varies based on several factors, such as the size of your arcade, the number of machines and employees, and location. Failure to obtain comprehensive insurance coverage could lead to extensive financial losses and, in some cases, even business closure.

  • General liability insurance: This policy can help cover costs associated with lawsuits from third parties, such as customers or suppliers. It typically costs around $500 to $1000 annually but can vary based on several risk factors
  • Property insurance: This type of insurance covers physical property damage caused by incidents like theft, fires, or natural disasters. Premiums for property insurance range from $50 to $150 per month.
  • Workers’ compensation insurance: If you have employees, workers’ compensation insurance is necessary to protect your business from potential lawsuits and help cover the cost of medical bills and lost wages. Premiums for workers’ compensation insurance can range from $400 to $600 per year.

It’s essential to conduct thorough research on insurance policies and providers to get the most comprehensive coverage at an affordable price. Additionally, it’s advisable to have a contingency fund to cover unexpected expenses that insurance may not cover. Keep in mind that the cost of insurance coverage is an inevitable expense that comes with owning an arcade business.

Type of Insurance Average Cost per Year
General Liability $500 to $1000
Property Insurance $50 to $150 per month
Workers’ Compensation $400 to $600 per year

In conclusion, insurance is a crucial element of any business, including arcade businesses. Determining the right insurance coverage and provider helps you protect your business from unexpected losses and legal suits. It’s crucial to create an adequate budget for insurance expenses and make sure you’re getting the best possible coverage without breaking the bank.

Staffing and Payroll

One of the biggest expenses in starting an arcade business is staffing and payroll. You need to hire a team of skilled employees to manage your arcade, entertain the guests, and handle the equipment.

Here are some of the staffing expenses you need to consider:

  • Managers: You need to hire a manager to oversee the daily operations of your arcade. The average salary of an arcade manager is around $50,000 per year.
  • Technicians: You need to hire technicians to maintain and repair your arcade machines. The average salary of an arcade technician is around $30,000 per year.
  • Game Attendants: You need to hire game attendants to manage your games, assist guests, and collect payments. The average salary of a game attendant is around $25,000 per year.

In addition to the salaries, you also need to consider the payroll taxes, insurance, and other benefits for your employees.

Here is a breakdown of the typical payroll expenses for an arcade business:

Expense Percentage of Payroll
Payroll Taxes 7.65%
Worker’s Compensation Insurance 1-2%
Health Insurance 5-10%
Retirement Benefits 3-5%

As you can see, staffing and payroll expenses can be significant for an arcade business. However, hiring a skilled and motivated team can be the key to providing an exceptional arcade experience for your customers, and ultimately generating a profit for your business.

Inventory and Supplies

Along with upfront costs such as rent, renovations, and equipment, arcade businesses must consider the ongoing cost of inventory and supplies. These expenses can easily add up and quickly deplete profits if not properly managed.

  • Arcade Games: The cost of arcade games can vary greatly depending on the type and quality of games purchased. Newer and more advanced games can cost upwards of $10,000 each, while older and simpler games can be found for as little as $1,500. Consider a mix of games to appeal to a wide range of customers.
  • Prizes: Many arcades offer prizes as incentives to play games and win tickets. These prizes can range from small trinkets to high-end electronics. The cost of prizes will depend on their value and the frequency at which they are offered.
  • Tickets: Tickets are necessary for players to redeem their prizes. The cost of rolls of tickets can vary based on the quantity purchased. Expect to spend anywhere from $40 to $100 per roll.
  • Cash Register and Money Handling Equipment: It’s important to have a reliable cash register and money handling equipment to properly manage sales and keep track of revenue. The cost of these items can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand depending on the features included.
  • Supplies: Running an arcade requires supplies such as cleaning materials, light bulbs, and paper products. The cost of these supplies will vary depending on the size of the business and the frequency of use. These expenses should be factored into the overall cost of inventory and supplies.

Keeping track of inventory and supply costs is crucial to the success of an arcade business. With careful planning and budgeting, these expenses can be properly managed to ensure profitability.

Arcade Game Cost Comparison Table

Game Type Average Cost
New, Advanced Games $10,000+
New, Simple Games $3,000 – $5,000
Used, Advanced Games $4,000 – $6,000
Used, Simple Games $1,500 – $3,000

Prices will vary based on the specific game and where it is purchased.

Maintenance and Repair Costs

Opening an arcade business can be an exciting venture, but it also comes with the responsibility of maintaining and repairing your equipment. Here are some things to keep in mind when considering maintenance and repair costs:

  • Regular maintenance is essential to keep arcade machines in good working condition. This includes cleaning, lubricating, and replacing worn-out parts.
  • Repairs can be costly, especially for older machines that may require hard-to-find replacement parts.
  • It’s important to have a budget set aside specifically for maintenance and repairs to avoid unexpected expenses.

While the cost of maintenance and repair will vary depending on the type and number of machines you have, as well as their age and condition, it’s important to budget for these expenses to ensure the longevity and profitability of your arcade business.

Here is an example of estimated maintenance and repair costs for a 50-machine arcade business:

Expense Annual Cost
Regular Maintenance $15,000
Unexpected Repairs $10,000
Total $25,000

It’s important to note that these are estimates and actual costs will vary. However, having a budget and plan in place for maintenance and repairs will help ensure that your arcade business is profitable in the long run.

Utilities and Other Operational Expenses

When starting an arcade business, it’s important to consider the costs of utilities and other operational expenses. These expenses can vary depending on factors such as location, size of the arcade, and the types of games and equipment being used. Here are some expenses you should be aware of:

  • Rent: This will likely be your biggest expense. Location and size will greatly affect the cost of rent.
  • Utilities: Electricity, heating, and cooling costs are necessary for keeping the arcade comfortable for customers. You may want to consider energy-efficient equipment to reduce utility costs.
  • Insurance: Liability insurance, property insurance, and worker’s compensation insurance are all vital for protecting your business and employees. Costs for insurance can vary depending on coverage levels and location.
  • Taxes and Licenses: Business licenses and taxes vary by location, so research the requirements in your area to avoid unexpected costs later on.
  • Repairs and Maintenance: Regular maintenance and repairs for arcade games and equipment can add up quickly. It’s important to factor in these expenses when budgeting.

Additionally, you may want to consider hiring employees to help with day-to-day operations. These costs will vary depending on the number of employees and their salaries. It’s important to budget for these expenses, along with other bigger expenses.

To get a better idea of how much these expenses can cost, here’s a breakdown of example expenses for a small arcade:

Expense Cost
Rent $2,500 per month
Utilities $500 per month
Insurance $300 per month
Taxes and Licenses $200 per month
Repairs and Maintenance $500 per month
Employee Salaries $2,000 per month
Total Operational Expenses $6,000 per month

Keep in mind that these expenses are just examples and the actual costs for your arcade business will depend on your location, size, and other factors unique to your business.

FAQs: How much does it cost to start an arcade business?

1. How much does it typically cost to start an arcade business?

The cost to start an arcade business can vary greatly depending on various factors. However, on average, it can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $300,000 or more to start an arcade business.

2. What are the main expenses associated with starting an arcade business?

The main expenses associated with starting an arcade business include renting or purchasing a location, purchasing arcade games and machines, hiring staff, licensing and permits, insurance, and marketing.

3. Can I start an arcade business with a lower budget?

Yes, it is possible to start an arcade business with a lower budget. However, that means you may have to compromise on the number and quality of arcade games and the size of the location.

4. Is it necessary to purchase new arcade machines or can I buy used ones?

It is possible to purchase used arcade machines instead of new ones to save money. However, make sure to inspect the machines thoroughly before purchasing to avoid buying outdated or faulty ones.

5. Do I need a large location for an arcade business?

The size of the location depends on the number of arcade games and machines you plan to have in your arcade business. However, a location with at least 2,000 square feet of space is recommended.

6. How long does it usually take to break even in an arcade business?

It can take anywhere from 12 to 24 months or more to break even in an arcade business, depending on your location, expenses, and revenue.

7. What other costs should I consider before starting an arcade business?

Other costs to consider before starting an arcade business include utilities, maintenance and repair costs, security, and the cost of ongoing game and equipment updates and replacements.

Closing Title: Thank You for Reading!

We hope you found this article helpful in understanding the costs associated with starting an arcade business. Owning an arcade business can be a profitable and fun investment, but it requires careful planning, budgeting, and research. If you have any further questions, feel free to reach out to us. Thanks for reading and visit again later for more tips and insights!