SHOCKER: Those Claw Crane Machines? Totally Rigged!

Senior Contributor
07.30.12 6 Comments

We miss arcades. We don’t miss claw machines. We always thought they were a flagrant rip-off because, come on, you had the toy right there and it slipped right through!

Turns out they were more of a rip-off than we realized. An arcade operator on Reddit has just come forward to admit that they were actually set up to only pay out the legally required number of prizes. When asked if they were rigged:

Yes :) Indeed they are!
Most machines have a CMS (Command Module Settings) which allow the owner to change a couple factors:
* Chance of winning. Win/Loose, typically 1/12 In Cali or 1/15 In Nevada!
* PSI of claw. Most claws are 5-8 PSI requiring 10-13 to grab an item. Note, the setting module for the PSI is usually manual, there are springs on the claw that have little red marks. The module will tell you which mark to tighten the spring for the desired effect :)
* Cost/Accepted Money. Either DBA(Dollar Bill Acceptor) or Coin
Under California law my claws are set to 1/12 which means 1/12 players will have a chance to win. The example I used before is a ‘toy’ requires 10 PSI to lift. My claw during 11/12 tries will apply 4-6 PSI, or just enough to shuffle it or barely pick it up. During the 1/12 tries the claw will apply 9-11 PSI, sometimes picking it up and dropping, some successful :)

Holy crap. Essentially making little kids gamble is legal?

The entire thread is actually a pretty fascinating look at what it takes to run an arcade. For example, the old “drilling a hole in a quarter” trick doesn’t work: there’s a string slicer in the coin slot.

Also you get to curse your wasted youth.

image courtesy Annamatic3000 on Flickr

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