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Pool Industry Growth

Pool Industry Growth

I'm looking at opening a billiards room with a bar for serious pool/billiard players. Some of the comments I hear about the decline of pool as a sport concern me. Is there any place I can get reasonably reliable information on the growth/decline of pool/billiards/snooker as a sport? It can be national info but regional is even better. Any ideas?

Pool Industry Growth

Replies & Comments

  1. 8ballbilliardsforum on 12/15/2008 7:04:39 PM

    Are you in the USA? Let me know and I'll see what we can dig up. Also, were there any particular metrics you wanted, specifically?

  2. 8ball8ball on 12/15/2008 7:37:42 PM

    Thanks for your response. Yes, I'm in Denver, Colorado. Even the better billiard places here seem to be struggling. Of course to some degree it's the economy, but I also keep hearing, your forum included, that it's popularity may be declining. It could be that the local places just aren't marketing themselves properly. I don't know.

    I'd love to know if more or fewer people are playing and the segmentation by age and region. I'm not sure if anyone is looking at this type of info. Maybe I need to contact the Billiard Congress of America or one of the other professional associations. Any help you can give is greatly appreciated. By the way - great job on your website.

  3. 8ballbilliardsforum on 12/16/2008 5:48:37 PM

    Yeah, the whole industry is struggling, and anecdotally, I've noticed that the establishments that are doing well, are offering much more than just billiards and/or snooker. There are a few niche pool halls where they deliver the whole high-end lounge, restaurant, prestige atmosphere. Much more than just a pool hall, and I think successful owners are going to be the ones who sell the "experience" and not just " a place to shoot pool" - people love glamor, as much as that sucks for the serious players. We've even seen the biggest chain pool hall in Canada, Doolys, close many locations whereas you'd expect them to squeeze the little guys first (they operated as franchise). I feel that many hall owners are stubborn and don't want to (or don't have the business sense) to change with the market.

    For example, "West Coast Billiards goes under" is an article we posted that sort of illustrates how stubbornness or lack of business savvy of pool hall owners has contributed heavily. You'll notice how he insisted on keeping his rates the same as they were on the day he opened for business 20 years ago. That's just foolish. He even resisted other, alternative methods of earning income:

    "We need a jukebox, more food, bigger bar... things we weren't willing to do to raise the extra money," he said. "I wanted this to last a couple more years, but we can't. "My biggest regret is that we kept our price so low. But it's too late now. This is a dying thing."

    I think anyone who reads the article can pick out a bunch of more mistakes.

    Also, I have one caution about going to the BCA for data. I've noticed (and again, this is anecdotal) that they tend to present a more rosy view of things as they are trying to grow the industry. (or at least that's what they say. there are a few other heated discussions on this board where a few of us, myself included, feels that the BCA has failed, and that they don't do enough to take the sport to the next level. Basically, in that post, it starts with someone saying we need another big billiard movie. That may be wise, since it was two big billiard movies that were SOLELY responsibly for the billiards boom of many years ago now. They were the color of money and the hustler. The premise of that other thread is that why could Hollywood films make more of a difference for the industry than the BCA?)

    One must also consider that the prices of pool tables has come way down, and in addition, there has been an emergence of low-cost, low-quality tables available in America, allowing many more people to simply play at home. I'd argue also that for every one family that buys a pool table, the local pool halls lose the business of probably 2 or 3 families, since the owner of the table invites others over.

    With that said, let me present you with a starting point for some real, data driven research.

    I would begin by studying the SGMA participation reports here. It's $140 dollars, but it's leading-class research and statistics. The BCA roughly reports off of these reports and adds data from their own members (which skews things I think), so why not go directly to the source. You may want to visit sgma.com to purchase your own more recent copies and become a member. Paying members get updates.

    Once you've read those, you can check out the following. The following is a graph showing the google search volume for the term "Billiards"

    This next one, for the term "Snooker" is not as bad, and you can see the spikes each year when the Snooker World Championships occur. Thats what I've always said that the BCA can do more to promote billiards, the way the Snooker organizations have done.

    For more, you may have to purchase data. You'll want to ask for data for the "Pool Halls and Billiard Parlors" industry, which is SIC 7999 / NAICS 713990 - the problem is that it's a "lump" recreation category that also includes casinos/gaming, and other industries.

    Also, here is a link to an $800 market research and 2009-2014 outlook for pool halls titled "The 2009-2014 World Outlook for Bowling Alleys and Billiard and Pool Establishments"


    You have to login to view the description. Here it is:

    This econometric study covers the world outlook for bowling alleys and billiard and pool establishments across more than 200 countries. For each year reported, estimates are given for the latent demand, or potential industry earnings (P.I.E.), for the country in question (in millions of U.S. dollars), the percent share the country is of the region and of the globe. These comparative benchmarks allow the reader to quickly gauge a country vis-à-vis others. Using econometric models which project fundamental economic dynamics within each country and across countries, latent demand estimates are created. This report does not discuss the specific players in the market serving the latent demand, nor specific details at the product level. The study also does not consider short-term cyclicalities that might affect realized sales. The study, therefore, is strategic in nature, taking an aggregate and long-run view, irrespective of the players or products involved.

    This study does not report actual sales data (which are simply unavailable, in a comparable or consistent manner in virtually all of the 230 countries of the world).

    This study gives, however, my estimates for the worldwide latent demand, or the P.I.E., for bowling alleys and billiard and pool establishments. It also shows how the P.I.E. is divided across the world’s regional and national markets. For each country, I also show my estimates of how the P.I.E. grows over time (positive or negative growth). In order to make these estimates, a multi-stage methodology was employed that is often taught in courses on international strategic planning at graduate schools of business.

    I hope this helps you, at least as a starting point. Bottom line, is that you might have to shell out for some real research (that is not from BCA).

  4. 8balldlabout on 12/17/2008 9:05:52 AM

    8ball, I also live here in Denver and have been here my whole life. I have several resourses that could tell you more about the billiard industry here in Denver. Feel free to e-mail me and we can talk. At the least it may be names you already know but it would be good to meet another billiard player here in town.

    -Doug dlabout@hotmail.com

  5. 8ball8ball on 12/17/2008 1:41:56 PM

    Great info! You really went the extra mile on this and it's greatly appreciated. I only had a chance to glance at the data but it looks right on. Again - you have a terrific website and I plan on being a regular. Thanks again.

    Doug, I'll be in touch. Thanks.

  6. 8ballMiguel Specia on 2/22/2011 12:37:12 PM

    I love this forum, so damn informational! Just what I need for my essay. Thanks all!

  7. 8ballbustya on 7/11/2011 5:45:38 PM

    I've been around the game for a lot of years and have seen the changes . I attribute the decline of the game to several factors . First and foremost was the introduction of hard whiskey which turned pool rooms into bars with boozers . Then people got people involved who only cared about the buck and whiskey , pool took the back seat . Then the cheap products from china pushing out quality made in the USA . People make the industry what it is and just like our government it is failing . Unless our standards are raised back up , good luck ... My advice if you are opening a room is don't go too big or fancy . Offer the gambit of food and beverage . To be successful you will have to give people value for their dollar , and treat your customers with respect . Too many places don't have a clue to that aspect . Try to set up your place where it's easy to service the customers , as well as maintanence . You want it as easy as possible to get from the bar to tables and back again ! I've ran very profitable rooms and now I'm a cue maker . Good luck with your venture .

  8. 8ballFenwick on 7/13/2011 5:57:56 AM

    With all due respect, "serious pool/billiard players" is almost a oxymoron. Their still out there but it's the bangers that cause the most problems. They also have the most to spend, disposable income.Most bangers just out for a good time IMHO would be anyone under the age of 30 today. They weren't raised like us senile, a I mean senior citizens. We were taught a pool or billiard table was not a throw away piece of furniture. We treated it with respect. Same with the cloth that covers it.

    Here's the room I play at or in.(http://www.romineshighpockets.com/home/). Some days the owner or the manager tells me or us the table time is what keeps the doors open. Then on another day it's the restaurant and the liquids that pays the bills.

    I have noticed how hard you need to work to keep a Great Billiard establishment open. You have to diversify. You have to cater to the wants and needs of all ages and types. The family man who brings in the wife and kids to us old farts who just want to play and everyone in between.

    Best of luck on your new venture.

    Fenwick P.S. Ya got to keep a clean and safe place in every aspect of the word clean first and foremost IMHO.

  9. 8ballErike on 2/15/2012 3:18:57 PM

    Great information and thank you.

    As part of the post/response you included the SGMA stats from 2007 and 2008, I was hoping you have 2011 SGMA participation stats for cue sports and that you could forward to me?

    I looking to open a billiard business and would like to gather reliable information to incorporate into my plan.

    Any help you can provide is greatly appreciated.

  10. 8ballJackdorsey on 2/29/2012 10:09:27 AM

    Anybody know where I can get Pool Hall Industry Report? Even a slightly old one? I am considering opening up a billiards hall in Chicago and would like to see an independent industry report. I see one from marketdata but that is like $940..... Please help!

    Jack jd60523@yahoo.com

  11. 8balluser1545345265 on 12/20/2018 2:34:26 PM

    This information seems a bit out of date but I have the same question! Any updates?

  12. 8ballbilliardsforum on 12/20/2018 5:04:37 PM

    Sure. I've been meaning to update this answer for some time now.

    I have a few but they are still older. If you pay, the SGMA will sell you their most recent studies.

    In summary; It doesn't look good for cue sports.

    Basically double digit declines over the next 3 years after the studies I shared in the original posts. Close to a 30% decline in the "core" participants.

    This is from a 2012 SGMA general sports study:


    Currently, the best chance cue sports has at turning around it's participation is getting into the Olympics. Currently there is quiet activity taking place to get billiards into the 2024 Olympic games. Too early for me to make a prediction on whether that will materialize.

    Also, IBISWorld did an in-depth study, which is available for around $950. If you are looking to get into the industry, it's a no-brainer to purchase it, in my opinion. It's a drop in the bucket to what you'll be spending to start up, and the benefit it would bring to a new entrant into the industry is exponentially greater, I believe.

    Unfortunately I do agree with their outlook:

    [Pool hall] industry revenue will continue to decrease amid heightened competition and low participation

    Here are the summary point from their sales page:

    Pool & Billiard Halls Industry in the US

    Industry Market Research Report
    August 2017

    Source: /industry-trends/specialized-market-research-reports/consumer-goods-services/sports-recreation/pool-billiard-halls.html

    Long shot: Industry revenue will continue to decrease amid heightened competition and low participation

    The Pool and Billiard Halls industry steadily declined over the past five years, with revenue falling despite consistent income growth. Consumer confidence in the economy sharply improved, causing consumers to increase discretionary spending on leisure and entertainment, though billiards halls did not benefit. According to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, 53.8% of billiards participants are aged 25 to 54. Despite the gradual economic recovery over recent years, demand for pool halls continued to suffer due to high external competition. As a result, IBISWorld expects industry revenue to fall at an annualized rate of 4.3% to $1.7 billion over the five years to 2017. Long-term pool and billiards participation trends have negatively impacted.

    Summary of insights:



    And an update to the search interest graphs: Big drops confirmed there as well. Below depicts overall search interest in the term "billiards" from 2004 to present day.

    Pool Hall Industry Data 2018-2019

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Pool Industry Growth

  • Title: Pool Industry Growth
  • Author:
  • Published: 12/15/2008 5:18:17 PM