Insert Coin(s) video-gaming bar invades downtown
11 July 2011
Beyond the Sun
Map of Insert Coin(s) Video Lounge and Game Bar
512 Fremont Street, Las Vegas
Not all video gamers are hermits living in their mothers’ basements, says Chris LaPorte, creator of the hip, video-gaming-centric downtown bar, Insert Coin(s). LaPorte says he’s living proof that guys who are into video gaming are smart, hardworking and social. It’s a combination that’s sure worked for him.
Just three months ago, LaPorte opened the video game lounge in downtown Las Vegas, near Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard. LaPorte didn’t have business or management experience, so, for him, it wasn’t about much except for his passion for video games.
“I’ve worked as a car salesman and a medical devices representative,” he says. “I was smart in school and loved to play video games. That’s how I got here.”
And clearly, this video gamer is onto something. The grand opening of his “barcade”—an arcade with a lounge, as he’s dubbed the joint—attracted about 2,700 people, creating a line that wrapped around the block. Since then, visitors from Europe to South America have come calling, LaPorte says.
Inside, the bar is uniquely un-Vegas, perhaps a key source of its appeal. Graffiti art plasters the walls, for that hipster touch, but stands meekly in comparison to the high-definition TVs that adorn them. About ten private gaming booths line one wall and more than 40 classic, coin-operated arcade games crowd the other—not a slot machine in sight. The empty space in the back is, naturally, a dance floor and DJ booth, and a full-service bar sits right in the middle. Where video poker machines are typically installed in bar tops downtown, color-changing LED lights are in place at Insert Coin(s), rounding out the too-cool-for-school mood.
But, LaPorte says, he didn’t always have support for his harebrained idea. So like little Mario beating up Bowser in a final challenge, or Link taking down Ganondorf to save Princess Zelda from an otherwise certain doom, LaPorte had to get innovative in his plan of attack.
“It took about two years to get financial support because investors listened with deaf ears,” LaPorte says. “I used a Facebook fan page as a petition to show them that more than 2,000 locals were supporting a place that didn’t exist yet.”
The petition motivated investors, and construction on the lounge was complete nine months later. LaPorte is convinced that the ever-changing video gaming industry will keep him in business.
“People will never get sick of video games because new ones come out faster than they can learn to play them,” he says. “There will always be a new console, game or feature that keeps us reeled in.”
The concept and quick success of Insert Coin(s) has piqued the interest of gamers and business people in other cities across the country, so LaPorte says he’d like to expand. LaPorte expects to begin opening what he hopes will be numerous locations nationwide within the next six to nine months.
Togetherness through video gaming—not being a loner—is what it’s all about.
“We might have to tailor each lounge to the atmosphere of each city, but the concept will still be the same,” he says. “We’ll still serve the 45-year-old man, the goth chick and the hip-hop boy. This is a place for everyone.”
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