A coin pusher does exactly what the name suggests — it is an arcade game that pushes coins (duh). Put in tokens or coins and try to stockpile them as much as you can in order to push them off the edge to win tickets, prizes, more coins, or, in more recent years, cards. You have probably seen them as they are still quite popular machines at local arcades.
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While there are many new coin pushers these days with fancy lights and new objectives, the classic arcade coin dozers are what started it all. The fundamental addictive gameplay has not changed.
Let’s dive into the history of coin pushers. I’ll also touch on tips on how to win tickets on modern coin pushers, gambling issues for these arcade machines, and if they are legal where you live.
The First Arcade Coin Pusher Machine
The history of the coin pusher begins around 1963. I say “around” because there is some debate on the definition of a coin pusher and the exact date when the first one was released.
A European company called Cromptons is credited with making the first coin pusher. Cromptons started making coin-operated amusement products in 1947.
The company released a machine called Wheel-a-Win in 1962. This game had a sweeping arm that pushed coins into holes that were spread around the surface of the inside of the cabinet.
This seems to be the first coin pusher, as it pushes coins that the player inserts, but a later arcade machine would more closely resemble coin pushers as they operate today.
Tricks to win on cherry master machines without.
Crompton’s Penny Falls Coin Pusher
This machine was called Penny Falls. It was released in 1964.
Penny Falls is a simple concept that most subsequent coin pushers would copy. Coins were inserted and dropped on a surface with more coins. These coins would be pushed forward and eventually dropped off an edge where the player could collect them.
After Wheel-a-Win and Penny Falls, Cromptons dove headfirst into this new coin pusher idea. They would go on to release many more coin pushers that all operated very similarly but with different themes. The hexagonal variant became the most popular because it didn’t take up as much space on the floor.
Coin pushers became a major success in arcades around the world. These old school, classic coin pushers can still be found in arcades in the UK today. Japan also very quickly jumped on the coin pusher fad and these games are still a staple in arcades there.
Cromptons’ Influence on Amusement and Arcade Machines
Coin pushers are in almost every arcade around the world. I think that is because of how addictive and simple the gameplay is.
When the Cromptons company made the first coin pusher they did not patent it. Cromptons did not think that it was going to last more than a year or two. The coin pusher craze definitely persisted and today we can see copies of the coin pusher concept from that first one that was made in the 1960s.
How to Win Coin Pushers (Card Collection)
A large majority of modern arcade coin pushers have cards that you need to collect. These cards are periodically dropped onto the coin stacks. The goal is the same. You try to add more coins in order to push coins, tokens, and the cards off the edge to collect them.
The coin pusher cards can be redeemed at the arcade for a massive amount of tickets if a full set is collected.
The trick with these coin pusher card sets is the same psychological trick that McDonald’s Monopoly had when that was a thing. There is one card that you need to collect that is far rarer than the rest of the cards. So you will usually collect tons of duplicates of all the common cards and only see the rare card once in a long while of playing.
This tricks our minds into thinking that we are so close to completing the card set so we keep putting in more coins and money to try and win that last illusive card.
I think card collection coin pushers are so popular today in arcades for this reason. The “I just need to collect one more card” mindset adds on to the addictive, gambling-prone nature of coin pushers; when arcade-goers see a big stack of coins or cards so close to the edge of the machine that they just have to put in “one more token”.
The way to beat these card collecting coin pushers is to know which one of the cards in the set is the rare one.
The strategy is to only play the coin pusher game when you see one of these rare cards close to the edge. After collecting the rare card it becomes pretty easy to complete the set without spending too much more money.
I am reluctant to share arcade game-breaking information, but because of how coin pushers are meant to prey on those that are prone to gambling, I don’t feel as bad. Just do not abuse this information. Arcade games are meant to have fun in the end, anyway.
Check out these articles below for more detailed tips to win coin pushers:
Are Real Money Coin Pushers Legal?
How Much Does A Coin Pusher Machine Cost
There have been some issues with the legality of coin pushers in regards to gambling. Most countries do not allow cash to be used as a reward from the machine. This would make the games very similar to other gambling games, like slot machines.
Any form of coin pusher is illegal in some states within the US. Check state laws on the issue to make sure that coin pushers are legal in your state.
Nowadays, the cash is almost always replaced with tokens or tickets as a reward.
Are Coin Pushers Legal in Michigan? (Could be Applied to Other States)
I am from Michigan so I tried to do research on the subject. There is not a lot of information available. I found an excerpt from Michigan law that I assume is similar to other states.
It is a penal code that states if a person is involved with owning or operating a gambling machine that they can be fined. But here is a section about the exception of crane games which I assume would be similar to coin pushers:
“Subsection (1) does not apply to a crane game. As used in this section, ‘crane game’ means an amusement machine activated by the insertion of a coin by which the player uses 1 or more buttons, joysticks, or similar means of control, or a combination of those means of control, to position a mechanical or electromechanical claw, or other retrieval device, over a prize, toy, novelty, or an edible item having a wholesale value of not more than $3.75, and thereby attempts to retrieve the prize, toy, novelty, or edible item. Every prize, toy, or edible item must be retrievable by the claw. A slot machine is not considered a crane game.”
Slot machines and other arcade games, like coin pushers, have a similar “pay for the chance of a reward” system. But slot machines have an age requirement to legally play. So what are the differences between slot machines and coin pushers?
Having real coins or quarters inside the game is definitely more of a legal issue than other types of rewards, like tickets.
I also believe that having an element of skill in a game helps with legality. Modern coin pushers have a lever where you can direct where the coin goes. This can be argued that it is not by complete chance whether you win or not. Although there are definitely spin wheel games at the arcade where you time when to press the button that seems like it is all luck.
Coin Pusher History Video
Watch this video for the summary of arcade coin pusher information.
Coin pushers are extremely addictive arcade machines. That does not mean that we can’t still enjoy playing them if we have self control and know our limits. It is strange because that is almost the same advice for people who like to gamble at the casino. But aren’t arcades just casinos for kids?!? (Playing devil’s advocate)
Read more on the specific tips and tricks of how to win coin pushers such as SpongeBob and Despicable Me Jelly Lab.
Coin Pusher Machines In Indiana
Further reading:11 Best Tips to Save Money at the Arcade