Buying a Bingo


OK, let's start off with what most people want to know...
Q: what is a bingo worth?

A: somewhere between -$25 and $1500+.

There, that's completely useless, so let's be a little (barely) more specific. Bingo's fall into four main categories:

  • Parts Machines : These are the games that are in such bad condition that they are worth the sum of their used part value. In general, the valuable parts are:

    • backglass. a NOS (new old stock), perfect backglass is typically going to cost $100-$200. The average glass with paint scrapes, a little ink cracking and dings $50-$100, and the rest with paint flaking off are pretty much worthless except for practicing touch-ups for your other backglasses.

    • playfield. Bingo playfields don't get the kind of wear that the flipper games did. A nice condition playfield is about $50.

    • motors. Average about $20 a motor.

    • coils/misc parts. Don't buy a parts machine just to get a couple coils.

    Generally you wind up with a parts machine because you bought another game and the person threw it in (they got you to haul off their junk). If you are going to have a few bingos, then a parts machine or two is handy. Don't expect to be able to gut a parts game and sell off the pieces. You may make a small profit, but it won't pay the rent.

  • Warehouse Machine: If you are bulk buyer, you will run across this type of deal. Buy a warehouse full of games, and your average price will be $25-$75/machine. However, expect at least half the games are parts machines, usually with missing backglass and motors robbed out of them. The catch is it's an all-or-nothing deal, and you need to remove everything...even the junk!

  • As-is Complete: The next step up, this is a warehouse game that is probably in decent shape, but hasn't been plugged in for 20 years and is going to need work to get it running again. The price you pay for this depends on:
    • what kind of game it is
    • cosmetic condition of the cabinet/playfield/backglass
    • the state of the guts (did rodents gnaw the wiring harnesses? Has Mr. WD-40 been been running amok?, are the wires all grey?).
    Typically though, you are looking at the low $hundreds. See auction prices. Note these prices are mostly from ebay, and we have nothing to do with the machines, so we don't know anything about them.

    The goal of this site is to make sure people who buy in this category wind up with a running game.

  • Retail: You want a game that works, and has a warranty? You will pay the premium for it. I've seen games sell for $2000+, but that's for people who don't care about money. $500-$1500 is not unreasonable, as it takes a lot of hours to really get a bingo in good running condition after sitting unused for 20+ years. The upper end of the price range is for machines with payout hoppers or machines in exceptional cosmetic condition.

    Let's also consider the economics of bingo retail. Some guy goes and buys a warehouse of machines for $50/each. Assume at least half are junk with missing parts or cosmetically so bad that they can't be retailed. So now his machines cost $100/each.

    Now the guy drives a few hundred miles with a truck to go empty the warehouse, and probably has to pay help to do it. Lowballing he now has $150/each into the games.

    Next he has to spend a lot of hours fixing them. Assume 20 hours going through the mechanicals and redoing the playfield, if no paint work will be done. You figure out what hourly rate you want to use...but if he's employing some guy with a really low standard of living, the game is now $400.

    Now assume you can sell two games/week, and he's going to have some games that he can't sell because the demand isn't there. How much profit do you need to pay the bills and keep yourself above poverty level? This guy can't compete with the prices that hobbiest want for the games, because they charge very little - if anything - for the time and labor to fetch and fix the games.

    So is $1000 unreasonable from a retailer who will guarantee the game and answer the phone when you want to complain? Not really, but you probably won't be able to sell it again for that much anytime soon.

Stop with prices already, I made a bunch-o-loot in the stock market

OK, so you have spare cash falling out of your pocket, but you want to buy as-is a complete machine. You can deal with the cosmetics, but what should you look for on the inside?

Well, check out the following areas of the site:

Besides that, you should look around for dangling wires which would mean something has been disconnected. Note that in a few games, there are one or two unused wires. Bally may have reused wiring bundles from other games but didn't need the wire. In a couple cases, Bally decided not to hook up a wire that is on the schematic, or decided to leave it up to the operator to connect the thing. Usually these kind of wires are involved in proportioning circuits (determining odds of things happening).

It's usually pretty obvious that the wire was never soldered to anything, and there is no place it could go....of course, it could have been cut far away from where it originally went, but this kinda stuff is usually noticable. If the wrappings on the wire bundles are tight, then it's a good bet that wires weren't pulled out of them.

There's usually a couple disconnected wires around the ball trough inside the coin door. These are for meters that the operators could install if they wanted.