Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, GA classic arcade setup confiscated by The Man (aka, state of Georgia)

arcadehero August 3, 2011 6

The Supreme Dalek says: CONFISCATE! (Via

(Thanks to Mark Arson for the tip)

UPDATE: Since this story broke, it looks like some fans of Plaza have come to the rescue, covering the fees and allowing Plaza to keep the games. Great news!

I guess I should be keeping count of these stories where a city or state steps into a business with arcade games and makes life difficult for some reason or another. Today’s story comes from, where a non-profit business known as the Plaza Theatre had all of their classic game machines (stuff like Defender, Ms. Pac-Man) confiscated by the Georgia Revenue Department. The games were not the primary part of what Plaza does but they were something that contributed in small part to what they have been doing there. It sounds like the machines were setup on a vendor revenue share type basis, with those machines being owned and operated by someone other than Plaza but apparently no one knew that you had to have certain stickers on the machines showing that some chunk of what they make is going to the state.

This of course doesn’t make headlines like the constant attempts by states and cities to crack down on kid’s lemonade stands but it is part of a trend – as states have been running up huge budget deficits on what amounts to them getting a huge magical credit card, reality eventually sets in, they can’t print money to pay their bills so they are willing to get revenue in any way possible. As more places around the world (several countries in Europe are teetering and the US seems well on its way) have to grapple with the possibility of bankruptcy and collapse, I wouldn’t be surprised if we hear more stories like this, but hopefully something can be done in some areas to change the laws or fees before too much longer. It’s certainly why I have stressed before to always check with local authorities about your upcoming business and make sure you have the appropriate fees or licensing taken care of so you don’t get caught off guard. In regards to Georgia’s budget deficit, a simple Google search shows it’s not roses and lollipops where they seem to be headed.

Now in regards to this, it appears that Plaza was allowing someone else to operate the machines there and neither had any idea about the fee. Hopefully they can work out a solution with the state as it seems like a lot more trouble than it is worth for Georgia to be worrying about a handful of old arcade machines, which tax/fee revenue they would bring in is quite minimal. Of course I’m not a big fan of these fees as it is  – often what happens is the state begins to charge so much per machine that it makes it completely pointless to run an arcade business in certain areas as the overall costs of running machine outweigh the money they bring in. We saw that a short time ago when the State of Oklahoma decided that a 300% fee was a nice sounding, albeit completely arbitrary number to charge on coin-op games and went with that.

If you’re in the Atlanta area, you can find out more about the Plaza Theatre here.


[Busted! Plaza’s Ms. Pac-Man Game Seized By The State –]


  1. Nomax August 4, 2011 at 4:14 am - Reply

    We recently discussed taxes on coin-op video games on AB forums, here are the fees in Belgium:
    – €150 / year for all video games except lightgun games.
    – €250 / year for lightgun shooting games.

    There’s a special regulation for the Brussels area where it costs €350 / year for violent games (lightgun shooters and fighting games).

    Strangely, all redemption games have a €150 tax on them even if they earn way more than video games.

    By the way, the tax is due regardless of the playing fee. Even if the game is on freeplay, you have to pay the tax.

    What are the fees in your country/state?

    • arcadehero August 4, 2011 at 10:29 am - Reply

      Where I am at, the State does not charge fees for games or tax for games that do not require an attendant to operate them. However different cities where I am do have different licensing fees. One city I checked with a few years ago could get as high as $1500/yr for certain redemption games. In the city where I currently am does not charge any fees, which is a big reason I decided to go here.

  2. bodybagg August 4, 2011 at 10:47 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the article. In somewhat good news, the Oklahoma tax was reduced from a 300% increase to a 50%, can read about it here:

  3. Mark Arson August 5, 2011 at 7:45 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for reposting this! We were able to work things out thanks to some generous donations and some of the games already having been licensed. We may have been naive about the licenses, but also didn’t really expect to be hassled being a non-profit that makes very little off our games, or off anything really. (the fines were more than each game makes in a year, and they were originally even going to fine us for the games that were out of order until someone was able to get those fines waived.) Lesson learned. Personally, I was just touched by the outpouring of support from people who wanted us to keep our games….I was just ready to throw my hands up, but when people started rallying around the cause, we made sure that none of the games would be destroyed (as the ATF claimed they would if we didn’t pay the fines). People still care about arcades (and independent movie theatres), and that makes me glad to be alive.

    • arcadehero August 5, 2011 at 7:49 pm - Reply

      No problem Mark, I’m really glad to hear that things have worked out with it. Those licenses have been known to kill more than a few locations. Hopefully you guys get to keep them running for a long time 🙂

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