History Of Plinko (And Pachinko)

May 10, 2023

Ever wondered how Plinko started? Among all the social games out there, Plinko has a unique history and tradition behind it. These days, you can even find it on various sites listed as a Plinko gambling game, and it was always about the prize waiting for the players at the bottom of the pyramid.

Still, even the most hardcore fans of “The Price is Right” show aren’t that familiar with the show’s origins residing within the Plinko known as the Pachinko game. If you are a fan of the game, or planning on giving the online version a try, we are here to dig deep down into the dark caves where the roots of the game were buried over 100 years ago.

So, buckle up and take a breath to prepare for our deep dive into the history of Plinko.

Finding The Roots of Plinko

There are many misconceptions regarding the humble beginnings of the Plinko game. Some say it all came from Chicago as the game concept which later on got developed in Japan. Others say it originated in the Land of the Rising Sun, so it’s not easy to get to the bottom of it.

One thing is for sure, though – Plinko started out as a fun social game for those looking to get the most out of their competing spirit. Fast forward to 2024, Plinko known as Pachinko is now an immersive market that works outside of the betting industry and generates income that’s 10 times bigger than the combined yearly revenue of Las Vegas and Macao.

The game can also be found on almost every online casino, so the main question is – how did it come to this in the first place? 

To answer that question, we’ll look at it from three different perspectives – the one that watchers of the TV show have, one of the Japanese Pachinko enthusiasts, and that of an average bettor.

The Impact of “The Price is Right” TV Show

If you mention the word Plinko’ to anyone outside of Japan, they’ll most likely associate it with that good-old American TV Show called “The Price is Right”. It’s only natural since Bob Barker and Drew Carey made the show even more engaging with their interesting personalities. And the visuals of the game are simply stunning.

The Price is Right TV Show Plinko

The name originated from the “Plink” sound that the chips make as they are thrown onto the pins of the Plinko board. It all works based on simple mechanics – the contestants qualify for the game by winning their right to get a few chips and throw the Plinko chips down the board with pins that contain cash prizes at the bottom.

The prizes can vary from a zero-prize slot to a $100 prize and progressively increase to prizes like the $200,000 slot which is among the highest-recorded prize pools in history. 

Everything about the game seems special from the special effects to the colorful board with changing prizes and exciting plink sounds of the chips. The TV show started back in 1972 so one could say it greatly contributed to the fame of the game today.

However, the name Plinko isn’t the only relevant title for the game, since the “Pachinko” version has been there for a much longer time.

Pachinko Game Origins

The incredibly diverse and popular market of Plinko games all started back in the early 1920s in Japanese candy stores. We know, it simply sounds unbelievable to those that adore playing the iGaming version of the game, but bear with us as we explain the game’s beginnings.

Back in the day, over 100 years ago, the game of Plinko arrived in Japan from Chicago and it quickly evolved into something more. Well, at least that was the case for Japanese children that got the chance to play the game in candy stores.

The mechanics were simple – a pinball-like board contained diverse candy prizes for those that manage to push the balls through the pins and into the prize bracket. Out of joy, the children referred to the game as “pachi-pachi” based on the sound of the balls bouncing through the pins, so the name “Pachinko” was born.

Pachi Pachi Japanese Pachinko

It didn’t take long before the game became publicly available to adults as well, only this time it wasn’t played for mere candies as prizes. It all led to specific establishments where players could enjoy a round of more complex Pachinko games and compete for chips that could, later on, be cashed out for a real money prize.

Pachinko Establishments In Japan

In Japan, any form of gambling has often been under the government’s eye and were even prohibited throughout the country’s history. So, this created an additional problem for specific Pachinko establishments – the Pachinko parlors.

The best way to describe walking into the parlor is if you recall your first time going to anarcade as a child. There are rows with dozens of separate Pachinko boards and seats are aligned almost like in a slot section of the Las Vegas venue.

However, the parlors didn’t directly distribute money for a prize but rather delivered the winnings to players in the form of chips. These could, later on, be substituted for money in other establishments as a way of somewhat evading the law that was pretty rigorous in Japan regarding these venues.

So, players once again got the chance to play for real money and the staggering growth of the Pachnko scene led to popular TV shows like ‘The Price is Right’.

Real Money Plinko Games

It wasn’t until recently that the betting Plinko game versions were created, and these are simply special for some game enthusiasts. Instead of going to Japan to try it out or watching the TV show in the US, fans finally got the widespread opportunity to try their luck on the game themselves.

Sure, it’s not the same as the Pachinko version, but there are various versions of the game including provably fair Plinko which is another story. It works with verifiable fairness metrics for crypto players, and the game operates with a virtual grid with pins and win multiplier prizes at the bottom.

So, players could potentially hit the highest multiplier prizes which would lead to massive wins of up to x1000 of the bet even on penny bets. On the other hand, Evolution Gaming developed a special round of their “Crazy Time” live game show release titled “Pachinko bonus” where the dealer drops a chip down the Plinko board so you can enjoy a live-action Plinko betting game as well.

Whilst it’s a simple game to play, you’ll find our Plinko strategies page useful, with some easy to follow tips to get the most from your gaming.

Evolution Of Plinko

For those looking to get the answers about the game’s popularity, you could say it all started back in the 1930s in Japan. After the game’s stellar popularity among children in candy stores, it simply got popularized for other players as well.

The first parlor was registered back in 1930 and up until 1940, there were hundreds of these in different cities. These days it’s a separate branch of the industry and it even contributes around 4% to Japan’s overall country GDP.

As for the iGaming version, it all happened pretty quickly a few years ago with popular providers like BGaming and Spribe releasing their versions of the game. Crypto casino sites like BC Game followed up with their Originals which are provably fair games for crypto players.

Because of that, almost every crypto site these days has a unique version of Plinko where you can capture the essence of the game.

Our Take

Life has its ways of creating incredible stories as you can see by the example of the Plinko game’s history. What once started as children’s fun is now among the most popular games in the world, and you have to admit that even the Japanese Pachinko has that good-old pokie DNA embedded.

The TV Show versions and iGaming versions are also editions that allow players to compete for prizes, and that’s exactly what Plinko should be. After all, that’s what makes all such games so interesting, isn’t it?

Plinko History FAQs

  • When did Plinko start?

    Plinko started as a TV show back in 1983 with “The Price is Right” show and it evolved through shows like “The Wall” and other versions of the game ever since.

  • Is Pachinko the same as Plinko?

    Yes, Pachinko is essentially the same game as Plinko but it’s a version aimed at the Japanese market and the original name of the game that started out as early as the 1930s in Nagoya.

  • Can you play Plinko in casinos?

    Yes, you can play Plinko at sites in which case we recommend you go with our suggested decentralized operators that will save you from having to deal with shady sites and worry about your player information.

Author Benjamin

Benjamin is the brains behind the Dappcasino.io casino review process and an iGaming content writer with 10+ years of experience in the niche. His “outside the box” point of view on online gambling gives him a unique perspective on every piece of iGaming content that he writes. Having been a player himself for years, he’s especially interested in giving true value to players with an objective approach to reviews and properly testing each site with real-money play beforehand. That’s why we trust him to deliver all the essential details to you regarding what he believes is the future of online gaming - crypto and decentralized casinos. Besides testing out new sites and casino games himself, Benjamin is also a free-time BBQ expert (that’s what he believes at least) with a tendency to enjoy a hot summer day sitting behind the grill with an ice-cold beer in his hand.