Postcard from... Las Vegas


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The Independent Online

Las Vegas is a city of big, guilty pleasures: gambling, strippers, grand buffet dinners, Celine Dion. But it also has some more modest delights, such as the Pinball Hall of Fame on Tropicana Avenue. This charming museum, which first opened in 2006, houses around 400 restored, playable pinball machines and arcade games in 10,000 square feet.

Flashing lights, pings and thumps emanate from machines that date from the 1950s to the 1990s, several of which are extremely rare.

Since the pinball golden age of the 1960s, 70s and 80s, these classic arcade amusements have been usurped by video games. Now just one pinball manufacturer remains in the US. The museum is owned and operated by Tim Arnold, who owned a celebrated arcade called Pinball Pete’s in Lansing, Michigan, during the 1980s. A trained pinball technician, he restores the games personally, and even rebuilds them from scratch using parts from several machines.

Many of the middle-aged men who frequent the Hall of Fame are said to be recovering gambling addicts, and pinball is one of few games you can play for hours in Vegas without spending more than 10  bucks. No machine here costs more than 50 cents to play – and profits go to the  Salvation Army.