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Future of arcade games may be in jeopardy because of pandemic

As bars and restaurants move to a more touch-free environment, it may put arcade games in jeopardy.

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As bars and restaurants move to a more touch-free environment, it may put arcade games in jeopardy.

Red's Novelty in Wisconsin has been in the game since 1938.

Jay Jacomet, the third-generation owner, said his warehouse is beginning to fill up with pinball and dart machines, pool tables and video games he usually rents out to bars, restaurants and bowling alleys.

Renting the equipment typically brings in thousands of dollars each month, but his customers are now returning games over coronavirus concerns.

"Times are very different," Jacomet said. "We've been getting calls to pick up equipment."

Bar and restaurant owners are concerned about the high-touch surfaces of the games that would need cleaned frequently, Jacomet said.

"We're educating the locations to wipe down the machines if need be," he said.

Businesses are also removing gaming equipment to make more room as they move tables further apart to ensure safe social distancing.

"We're going to be first on the chopping block to pull our machines out," Jacomet said. "Hopefully we'll put them back on the street when things go back to normal."