How to Open a Pool Hall

by Christopher Raines - Updated September 26, 2017
Game of Pool

Opening a billiards business isn't cheap. You'll need between $10,000 and $50,000 to start a pool hall, according to Entrepreneur magazine. Money, though, is not the only hurdle. A recent IBISWorld market research report shows your pool hall must compete with venues such as bars and nightclubs for patrons. Your start-up work should address how you can satisfy the needs and tastes of pool enthusiasts and customers looking for recreation.

The Spot

Open your business near industrial parks, office complexes or strip malls to attract office workers and serious pool players, Entrepreneur.com suggests. According to Gaebler Ventures, a venture capital firm, the typical pool hall customer is male and under age 35, which means your interior should reflect this demographic. For example, BBOnline.com, which features travel articles, profiled a Houston billiards establishment that boasts 40 televisions for sports fans. You probably won't need that many screens to launch your parlor; even two or three televisions can suffice. A dartboard area can also complement the pool and billiard stations.

The Play Area

Include the pool cue length with table size in figuring your space needs. A cue is usually at least 58 inches long, so you should add twice the cue length to the length and width of your tables to know how much area you need. For example, if you have an 84-inch long by 52-inch wide table, add 116 inches to the length and 116 inches to the width. Thus, you will need an area 200 inches (16 feet 8 inches ) long by 168 inches (14 feet) wide to ensure players have enough room to shoot.

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Money in the Pocket

According to Entrepreneur, you can earn up to $200,000 in revenues a year from table fees. The magazine reports that, as a rule of thumb, you can rent out pool tables at between $6 per hour and $10 per hour. Money can also roll in from memberships and hosting leagues or tournaments. Gaebler Ventures advises that you look to food and beverages as well as pool table rentals for revenue.

Licensing Issues

Check with your state and local government's business office for licensing requirements. For example, New York City requires a Pool or Billiard Room license for establishments with at least three tables. The threshold in South Bend, Indiana, is four tables. The steps for getting a permit to sell alcohol in the hall also vary by state or locality. For example, in Clark County, Nevada, which contains Las Vegas, you must have 35 pool tables, five feet of separation between each play station, a restaurant and an area devoted to at least 10 coin-operated non-gaming amusement devices to be approved.

About the Author

Christopher Raines enjoys sharing his knowledge of business, financial matters and the law. He earned his business administration and law degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As a lawyer since August 1996, Raines has handled cases involving business, consumer and other areas of the law.

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