Bouncing back: Arcade equipment company Betson Enterprises survived pandemic and is thriving in aftermath

Skating rinks, pizza parlors, bars, movie theaters, casinos, cruise ships, theme parks … you name a business hard-hit by the pandemic, and Betson Enterprises probably had it as a customer.

Leaders of the Carlstadt company, which sits atop the scoreboard in the niche area of distributing arcade equipment, might have felt like there was no worse job than having to sell pinball machines as the pandemic raged.

“At the outset, the CDC even indicated that the virus might live on surfaces for extended periods of time,” said Jonathan Betti, a sales and business development leader for the business. “Well, we’re in the most high-touch, out-of-home, social business there is. So, that was a pretty scary moment for us.”

Still, it wasn’t game over for the unique business.

Instead, Betson Enterprises is proving to be another story of industries that have leaped to new revenue heights in a post-pandemic business environment. 

Throughout 2020, the company kept itself afloat during the slowdown in the arcade business with another business division’s sales of at-home products — including pingpong, air hockey, shuffleboard and pool tables.

The company, which operates as a division of H. Betti Industries Inc., then saw the traditional arcade business return “stronger than ever,” Betti said. As localities across the U.S. began to resume normal operation, the demand for these products leveled up.

“I don’t know if that was a byproduct of people being cooped up during that time and wanting to get out of their homes and socialize again,” he added. “Regardless of what it was, many of our customers had their best years in 2021 or 2022, depending on when their states were fully reopened. As a result, quite remarkably, we’ve come out of this stronger than we went into it.”

When ROI-NJ connected with the company in late 2019, it was riding a rising tide nationwide of “bar arcades” that mixed craft beer with pinball. That trend has picked up where it left off, Betti said. 

So has the business of staple arcade equipment customers, including bowling alley operators. These companies are making more space all the time for arcades, Betti said, even at the cost sometimes of removing bowling lanes.

“Movie theaters are doing the same thing to combat at-home streaming,” he added. “They need a more well-rounded, diversified entertainment offering today to get people out of their homes.”

Some of the business verticals investing in arcades today might come as a surprise.

Whether it’s purchases of golf simulators or driving simulators, Betti said there’s a new reality for those in the arcade equipment supply chain: Commercial real estate developers increasingly want these machines in their lobbies to attract tenants.

“They want to include more entertainment to entice people who moved toward working at home back into the workspace,” he said. “It’s sort of like when a company’s old break room would have a pingpong table or foosball.”

To market apartment communities more competitively, some have also turned to offering entertainment centers with arcade cabinets as an amenity, Betti added.

For the company and its around 350-employee team, the traditional arcade customer largely remains the focus. Betti believes that space is thriving as much as it was in its ’80s heyday.

But it’s also always on the lookout for new customers as well as new products. 

“We’re in a lot of ways like a 90-year-old startup,” Betti said. “We’re not complacent.”

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Reach Betson Enterprises at: or call 201-438-1300 or 800-524-2343.