Bingo Pinballs


Thoughts and Memories:

Honorable Mention:



Phil Bogema


Charlie's - The machine


Vic Camp - Great Stuff

Peter Swanson’s home page
The Swanson Homepages - Family History
"Two or three pin machines in each drug store, candy store, soft drink establishment and other kindred places of business, will in large measure reduce the illegal tendencies of young men. This the police should consider before embarking on destructive forays against pin machines and other coin operated devices. -Harry Williams (27 years old), 1933"




A night in Barcelona
Traveling South, page 4
”....some the sailors were on shore were looking for girls and drinking too much. They told me that Barcelona and Piraeus were, at that time, the only ports where they could look for fun and let off steam. The streets were lined with cafeterias that advertised themselves as Snack Bars, and the sound of pinball machines and jute boxes filled the air in a mad electronic rush that was tempoed by the crush of people….”





WW2 Pinball Stories - Humor
A pinball player in New Orleans recently got more than he bargained for when he stepped up to play a pinball machine, according to the Little Rock Gazette. As he pulled back the plunger of the pinball machine with practice finesse and shot the works, matters went somewhat out of control. A taxi collided with a bus outside and threw a wheel, which came bounding through the window to score 40,000 points right on the player's head. He went to the hospital for treatment of minor lacerations.





From: Phil Bogema
Subject: Re: Biggest payouts on 5 & 10 cent pins
Date: 2000-12-27 19:50:15 PST
My dad (who is 82 now) has been telling a story for years that we're all sick of now. He went into a drugstore in Maryland in about 1944, put a nickel in a one ball machine, and hit for 900 games. He doesn't know the name of the machine, but he asked some kid if they paid out. The kid said "If they know you." My dad said, "For 5 bucks you know me," and cleared 40 dollars out of the deal!





Tom Clawges
My dad bought my brother and I a Big Time (57) when we were kids. This was after our first pinball machine (Big Chief). I never knew what a bingo was, but we were both hooked. Recently I was on a mission to find another Big Time so "my kids" would be able to play, and found one at the CA Extreme show. Man, what a kick to play that machine again. I have to admit though, I'm still on the honeymoon if you know what I mean. Although some might argue that the gambling aspect is the attraction, in a way I have to agree. Sure, it's fun to have that "unknown" aspect of not knowing what you'll get from game to game. But show me a bingo machine owner, and I'll show you someone who would never turn down a trip to Vegas!





Darleen Speer walks down memory lane:
One of my favorite things would be when Mom dropped us off at Daddy's "shop" while she shopped. Dad's business was pinball machines and jukeboxes that he ran in bars and resturants. Later on he had the small bumper pool tables too. He would have us pick which pinball machine we wanted to play, my favorite was the bingo game ones, and then he would rack up 300 games for us to play-is it any wonder I'm a game- addict today? His business use to "pay off" on the pinball games, which of course was illegal. I remember the headlines one year in the mid fifties, they bull-dozed under Dad's machines-showed a picture and everything, on the front page of the paper!




Around the turn of the century Pavilions were becoming common as the keystone of coastal amusement areas. The Newport Bay Investment Company pledged $10,000.00 to build a Pavilion to enhance the new development of Balboa. A permit to build the Pavilion was secured from the Secretary of War, and 210 feet of water frontage was deeded to the Newport Bay Investment Company. The Balboa Pavilion, was completed in 1905 by the Newport Bay Investment Company, with George Preble as contractor, Fred Dorn architect, and the Chris MacNeil building gang. By the late 1940's the Pavilion begin to sink on its old wooden pilings and they were replaced with permanent concrete ones. Originally the Pavilion was used as a bath house. By the early 1940's speed boat rides from the Pavilion up the bay and in the ocean were all the rage. By 1949 the upstairs was a 10 lane bowling alley and arcade with five pool tables. Bingo games were very successful through the early 1950's until they were outlawed. Today Balboa Pavilion offers the famous Tale Of The Whale Restaurant with banquet facilities in the upstairs hall and the Spouter Saloon.





Erik Davis and I quote “pinballus interruptus”
Erik Davis's "Game Over"
Players of the flipperless game did not always watch helplessly as the steelie bumped toward the target holes - they'd bump and shake the table. To put a damper on this, Stanford engineering grad Harry Williams, who would later found the WMS pinball empire, came up with the tilt mechanism in 1932. When the tilt was tripped, the machine would die in the midst of battle, or at least hibernate, frustrating and teasing the player with serious pinballus interruptus. Williams also started to feed his games electricity, and in his 1933 game Contact, the solenoid appeared: an electromagnetic coil outfitted with a kicker that could give the ball that now-familiar punch up the playfield.





Fun of the “Flipperless Pinball” is still alive:
Check the small print on the left
Expansion Bar 2124 Market St (between 14th and 15th)
San Francisco CA 94114 +1 415 863 4041 Located in Mission District.
”This is a no-frills dive bar popular with gays of all ages. Very casual. Maybe it's the shelves of toy trucks and cars that lure in patrons, or maybe it's the fun of the flipperless pinball machines. Whatever it is, it's a popular spot for some low-key fun.”





Quotes from Alison Scott's childhood memories:
Plokta Issue 1 - Flash! Flash!
"I like pinball, Daddy; it's not like computer games; it's real," and “I want to be a pinball machine when I grow up.”





By Donald L. Nevels
Our pay was five cents a week. During this time, I once asked my father for a nickel to play a pinball machine; I will never forget his answer, "Son, if you have enough money to play a pinball machine, then I am paying you too much money!"




Editor?s Review:
PC - Review
Ah, pinball, what precious memories they bring about in every gamer's hearts. Who here hasn't at least once in their life found a pinball machine that completely dominated all of their spare time and loose change for months on end?





PM: PINBALL!: DECEMBER 94 BY ROGER SHARPE PM Photos by Bill Ashe ... for collectible machines built during pinball's golden age “the late 1940s to the mid-1950s” but also for such ...





”In the 1950s, the Mafia in St. Louis had little power. The south side of the city was dominated by the Syrian Mob (they were actually Lebanese), headed by Jimmy Michaels, Sr., who was close to Buster Wortman, the rackets boss in East St. Louis. Wortman was the dominant gangster in St. Louis from the early 1940s through the early 1960s. In fact, there came a period when Wortman (who didn?t like Vitale) sent his men into St. Louis to smash dozens of pinball machines (used for gambling) belonging to Vitale. Vitale?s response was to tell the St. Louis Globe-Democrat that Wortman was crazy, and that if Wortman wanted the pinball machine business, he could have it. And Wortman did in fact take over the pinball-machine business (he had his own vending machine company).”





Unknown author
I knew we couldn't be pinball-less for long - the world's just not right without pinball.





Impressions from a 25 yr pinball veteran
I would counter that pinball is, in many ways, an artistic expression. First of all, there are the machines themselves. The classically American backglass pictures: this is art. The playing field: some machines are works of architectural and electronic genius, while others are marvelously simple and fun. Right





Artist Unknown
The next time you drop your coins into the ubiquitous pinball machine look around-- the work of the designer touches every aspect of the experience, imparting a sublime romantic allure to the game





Crime Mag Link
In a paper by: McNair Paper Number 52, Chapter 10, October 1996 - The paradigmatic example of a chaotic process, by contrast, is a "flipperless" pinball machine of infinite length. Edward Lorentz has characterized its behavior as being sensitively dependent on a single "interior" initial condition, namely the speed imparted to the pinball by the plunger that players use to put each ball into play.




Link I - A great photo and some neat history here
L.A. in the 40s
From the: The High Window, Chapter 13

"Hold the wire a minute," I said. I put the phone down on the shelf and opened the booth door and stuck my head out, filling my chest with what they were using for air in the drugstore. Nobody was paying any attention to me. Up front the druggist, in a pale blue smock, was chatting across the cigar counter. The counter boy was polishing glasses at the fountain. Two girls in slacks were playing the pinball machine.





More thoughts from our friends at Cigar Aficionados

Yet even during its golden age, pinball had its detractors. "Bingo" pinballs offering replays angered lawmakers, who believed the games were created to dodge federal antigambling laws on payout pinball. On some machines, the player could win up to 999 free games in an afternoon, which operators thoughtfully redeemed for cash. Clergymen and mothers spoke out against the evils of pinball, noting the unsavory locations where machines were often found, such as pool halls and bars, and decrying the dangers of teenage boys wasting their time and money in front of machines that frequently featured scantily clad, busty women. What's more, pinball also had to compete with the latest fads, such ad drive-in movies, coin-operated shuffle alleys and the resurgence of bowling.





Iowa State defines “Antique Pinball” - Well I guess we qualify :)
Iowa Code 1999SUPPLEMENT: Section 725.9
"Antique pinball machine" means a pinball machine which is twenty-five years old or older.




Hawaii Bingo thoughts in a some language :)

Bingo automaten zijn een zijspoor van het pinball gebeuren. Ze hebben geen flippers en speelveldattributen zoals dat bij een flipperkast het geval is, meestal wordt er met 5 ballen gespeeld die in gaten in het speelveld vallen (en blijven liggen)indien deze genummerde gaten overeenkomen met de nummers op de kopkast worden daar punten mee gewonnen. Hawaii is een van de laatste bingo's die door Bally werd gebouwd, hij heeft zeer veel features en is een prachtstuk.. Onze Hawaii werkt voor 100%. Wil je meer weten over Bingo's dan is er een Engelstalige site die tot in de kleinste details ze uitlegt.





Bingo Machines
Pinball style machines where the player endeavors to shoot a limited number of balls into differently numbered holes having previously bet on the numbers of the holes into which he anticipates the balls will successfully fall.





Unknown Author:
At the "California Extreme Classic Video Game & Pinball Show" that was held in San Jose this past Labor Day weekend, was a working bingo payout machine, though it didn't actually use any coins. But that was the first time I'd ever put my hands on a working bingo machine -- and it was in great condition too. Those things are really fascinating!





Andy Carraway carries on............
There I was introduced to a totally new kind of game, the bingo pinball. Several of my frat brothers played the same game at the local barbeque restaurant on a daily basis. As we dropped rolls full of nickels into the machine and cut classes, I knew my addiction was getting stronger. The noises the bingo machine made and its almost unfathomable play rules fascinated me. I knew someday I had to have one!




Bingos in Hawaii
Michael W. Pioso reminiscences

I lived in Hawaii (1960-61) while my Dad was assigned to Pearl Harbor Naval Base. I used to 'relieve' $5 or $10 bucks from my Mom's purse and take a long bus ride from Pearl Harbor to downtown Honolulu to the local game parlors set up to purloin the navy folk's bucks and proceeded to dump everything into a Circus Queen or County Fair and have been in love with them ever since. I am still hoping to find a working one to have at home to finally get the better of before I take off. They were absolute magic to me. I was 13!

Dan Leach: When I asked him if I could post this, he responds:

Feel free to use my snippet of my history with bingo machines. I never did end up a winner...too tiny to move the box enough! heh heh. Mike Pioso





Greg Fleming
From Portland, Oregon on Portland :)

Happy to see your Bingo site, hope to see it grow. I got into playing pinball in 1976 at the Faucet Tavern, which had a Bally GOLDEN GATE. There were bingos at other outlying taverns, but they all disappeared with the advent of the Oregon Lottery. A few years later, I bought my first Bingo, a Bally BEACH TIME from a gentleman who organized Antique shows at the Expo Center. I've since owned a VARIETY, and finally, with the help of Tom Reutlinger, was able to purchase a Bally GOLDEN GATE from Larry Black. I restored the GOLDEN GATE and years later sold it. In May of 2000, I purchased a Bally BIKINI from Russ Jensen's personal collection. It was featured in his article "Bally's BIKINI - It's 'OK'" for the Sept '87 issue of Coin Slot. I also have a LIDO that I hopefully will get runnin this summer.






Charlie’s Beach Time




Charlie has a really great site started and shares some wonderful memories and a great Russ Jensen article:


Bally Hole
In our mid teens, my best friend Todd Troughton and I would play a gambling slash Bingo slash Pin Ball machine called Bally Hole. The machines were manufactured by the Bally company, as in Bally’s Grand Casinos. We had a few places that sported the dime swallowing machines in our little town. Remarkably, they all “paid out” , even to youngsters like us, and even though it was against the law! Our main hangout was a liquor store that sat conspicuously across from the prestigious Country Club. Goodins Liquor store was a Jefferson City landmark. I think I could write an entire book about the times we spent at Goodins. Many times during our unforgiving Mid-Missouri summers, we put in some 40 hour weeks at Goodins. These were the greatest times of my life. Goodins was a liquor store built in the late 50’s or early 60’s. It was outfitted with a dirty beige tile floor and harbored hard liquor pints and fifths behind the register area. The standup, glass door coolers lined the back wall and were stocked full of 12-packs and cases of beer. The main part of the store had three or four isles. A few were filled with every possible type of wine and additional liquor items, one row was filled with nasty magazines. Squeezed amongst all of this societal evil were groceries and sundries. In the back corner, sat the trusty Bally Hole machine. It was the Beach Time model with yellow and red roll-overs, Bally Hole, four corners and the like.


This is just a snippet, check out his site :)




Mike Rosner writes me on Apr 28th, 2003

Hi Danny , My name is Mike and I remember the Old Bingo Machines from the 1950s they were great penny machines, I am from the Los Angeles area and I have retired to New York and I am trying to find a site to download Bingo Machines to play or buy a CD, I had owned 2 Bally Bingo Games in the 1950s and 60s- Phil if you can help me I would really appreciate it and Thank You  - Mike




One day Paul Jeep writes me and I realize he’s from Halifax – So I question it and if anything bingo is a going:


His email was titled “BINGO long time” – Sounds a little like the P.I.





March 22, 2003

From: Cary & Laurian Moomjian <>

I've been a binger for 25 years. I first got hooked when I found a stash of machines on the second floor of an old arcade in Long Beach California. As the story goes, Mr. Sullivan had a bunch of Bally bingos on one cent play in his arcade on the Long Beach Nu-Pike, a great hangout and popular place for US Navy folks. Apparently the Feds wanted to slap a fee on each machine ($50?) and Mr. Sullivan said BS and moved all of 'em upstairs where they sat for years. He passed away, and one of my pinball buddies told me about the machines. His daughter was still running the arcade in it's last days, and she let me have my pick for , you guessed it, $50 apiece. I remember the fun of being in the dusty = room with bingos stacked everywhere, take your choice. I had a Big Time, Double Header, Night Club and Show Time back then. I sold 'em when I moved from California abut 10 years ago, but recently bought a Silver Sails and am having a blast with it!




March 07,2003

When a lad of thirteen or fourteen I used to hang around guys who played the bingo pinball machines at the ice creamery and the bowling alleys in my neighborhood. You know, I never saw a female play one. Hmm. Who's the smart one of the species? :)

The smell of a bingo pinball is unique to anything -- a combination of oil and ozone and stale cigarette smoke. The images of the brown strips burned wood where players left their cigarettes burning, or the water stains where occasional drinks would get spilled. The sounds of the stepping switches rattling off ABCD E F G, the pops of the trip bank switches when a super section would light up, or the punk punk punk when 1st Extra Ball would light on a single nickel are all sounds that make them a league of their own.

My granddad was janitoring one of these bowling alleys and they had a ShowTime and a County Fair. I would do anything I could to scrounge up nickels to play these on the weekends while he vacuumed and mopped.  I learned how to jack up the machine using matchbooks under the right rear leg so the balls would roll down the 1-8-(14)-19-23-24 side to make it easier to get a five-in-line. Occasionally it worked! In those days, the maximum payout in our city was 160 replays. So if the odds jumped to 160 96 32, that was tiggest game with a five in line. Anyway, I'd play these at 5 in the morning so no one would watch.

My granddad would wait until the owner came in and collect the winnings. The owner put a stop to that after about six consecutive weeks of $8 winners. Cheapskate!

I remember playing the County Fair one time and a police officer started poking around the front window. I was a teen ager at the time so it was obviously illegal for me to be playing the machine. I had won a number of games but when I saw him pull up I turned the machine off and hid underneath it while my grandfather ran the buffer. Of course I had forgotten that all the games go away when turning on the power again, so I lost all my winnings for that day. My nickels were gone, too!

While looking in the newspaper one day three years ago, a fellow was selling two bingo games to prepare for a move. I went out to his house and here was a Broadway and a ShowTime. I had $400 in my pocket cash and offered him that amount if he would deliver them, take them apart, and brought them to my house (about 20 miles away). I was so happy owning a ShowTime. And this one had odds to 600 480 192! So a year later I'm looking in the paper and here is an add for bingo pinballs (plural). So I call up the number, go out to the fellows house, and he has 15 of these things lined up in his garage! Many of these units were in excellent condition (and priced accordingly). So I started playing the County Fair that he had and could not lose. Four in lines, five in lines, huge odds, OK games, everything was going my way. I walked out of the garage owning the County Fair and so in my collection are two of the games I loved as a teenager. And I met one of the great technical geniuses of bingo pinball that day, Richard Gerlitz. Too bad he is getting out of the business. The man is stunning in his knowledge of working of the machines -- and he is a nice guy! The machine he sold me was perfect then and is perfect now. The backglass is spectacular. It is the pride of the fleet!

There are other stories involving Laguna Beach, Roller Derby, and a number of others whose names have faded into the past, watching the repairmen come out when a problem existed and open up the back and by reading the schematic be able to make it work again. Only once do I recall watching them take an old broken machine out and replace it with a different one. And once in a while they would loosen up the reflex unit  to increase the chances of winning big. It was absolutely fascinating to me as a teenager to look inside the back, and now that I am in my fifties, they are no less magical even though I own three and am seriously considering purchasing two more. (A Lido and a Bounty)

Thanks for the bandwidth. Hope you enjoyed!

Dave L, Seattle





Feb 22nd, 2003

Gordon Wyle writes:


      whah a breath of life reading your web page   

      i used to play the bingo machines with no other than Dave Dee of Dave Dee Dozey Beaky   and all that in Salisbury in 1965 / 68   

    Danny....??? do you know where i could pick up a bally in good working order???? for my sins i now reside in scotland       

         i  await your reply  all the best...willllieeee





The autobiography of a man living in the 2nd half of the 20th century

by Roger B. White Jr., started Dec 96

Late 67 or early 68?


I got into the city of Biloxi a few times, and down to New Orleans for Mardi Gras while I was training at Keesler Both were eye-openers. Biloxi was my first experience with the Deep South, and I found it fascinatingly different from Ohio and the Cleveland area, or any other of the many places I'd visited by then in the North and West. The

geography and the vegetation were different, and the social styles of the people were different. I ran into pinball machines in Biloxi, honest-to-god pinball machines. They had no flippers on them; you played them to win real money; and they were much like playing Bingo -- there was a square of holes and you won by getting long lines of

balls in the holes.







I found this file in my folder titled “ray remembers”

The law was clear. You couldn't have a pinball machine with a hole in the playfield. The Bingo machines had 25 holes on the playfield and  you would line them up with corresponding numbers on the backglass.  Mayor Daley effectively outlawed all machines with a hole in the  playfield. There were so many of them and it was feared that they  could be turned into gambling machines

I think it’s say to say the ray was from New York…………..






Advice from Tony, another file I found in my folder.

Take a chance find a nice condition bingo pinball machine and fix it up. Look for something from the late 1950's to early 60's. The most sought after games are the ones that have the OK feature in them. Some of the really great ones are BIKINI, GOLDEN GATE, LIDO, SILVER SAILS, CARNIVAL QUEEN, and there are a lot more to list. You can also look for a turning corners games like NIGHT CLUB, BROADWAY, BEACH TIME, etc where 16 numbers all move in different positions on the corners of the bingo cards. .How about a magic line game where the numbers move up and down on the bingo card. Some of the magic line games are VARIETY, BIG TIME, GAY TIME etc. Really the best thing to do is buy the new BALLY BINGO PINBALL MACHINE book out by Jeffery Lawton and this book will explain everything you ever wanted to know about bingo pinball machines. I think once anyone gives themselves a chance to fully understand how these great pinball machines really work and! ! learn how to play them will be amazed how much fun the games could be. It will take sometime to get good enough to win on these bingo pinball machines so I can't see being bored that quickly. Do not listen to all the bad talk about bingo pinball machines, the people bad that bad talk them are the ones who never really gave themselves a true chance to learn and play these fantastic and very interesting machines. Get the BALLY BINGO PINBALL book and be on your way.









Please send me your memories and thoughts; I would love to post them :)