The way I see it, if you are playing at home there is no excuse not to have your game set for coin insert...none whatsoever. In an arcade during a non-event, also no excuse UNLESS the arcade's default is free play...such as you pay a fixed fee per hour and the games are all at free play as a result. During a live event, depending on the event, games may be set to free play.
This is an inconsistent set of circumstances to be sure, and yet I can state as a matter of fact that all the Philly Classic 2004 and Cram Arcade scores were achieved via free play as I personally witnessed these happen. Same for the scores achieved at Mall of America 2001.
The real issue always has been the reason behind the rule...is it valid and can anyone truly be sure for all 1800+ arcade classics out there as it may apply to none, some, many, but certainly not to all.
That stated, prudence has always dictated being on the side of caution thus the ruling, but the thought process behind it was not out of knowledge but out of speculation on worst-case-scenario. Therefore the original ruling, in my opinion, is good for discussion once Jace and his team are ready to address policies.