As you suspected: claw machines are rigged

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In CA they have a law that dictates that Claw machine wins should be 12%


As this makes it essentially a game of chance is it covered by gambling laws like fruit machines would be? (Or whatever US equivalent)


The trick to winning at one of these machines is to watch the person before you have no success, thereby informing you that you will also have no success, and therefore you shouldn’t even try. You win all the money you would have wasted in it.

If you really have a thing for plush toys, then have a sick kid. You’ll be up to your ears in plush toys.


Hah. Known this for years (but then I worked in an arcade, with tons of the things)


When there are prizes involved, arcades definitely give off a bit of a casino for children vibe. I suspect the costs and rewards are low enough to keep it from most regulation. To be honest, I think the casinos could benefit from a more skill based arcade vibe.


They should be, but they aren’t.

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Does the same go for the Japanese machines? They are far more pervasive there, and the prizes are cooler too. (I’m told visitors can occasionally request that the game be made slightly easier, if the operator is around.)

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So, when I was in high school I got the bright idea that I should run the school fair, which had been a big to do when I was a young child and had since fallen into a sad affair.

Fortunately I had two kickass moms who actually knew how to organize things who took over a lot of the planning for me, including tracking down a catalog with the plush toys in it for prizes.

If you could see HOW CHEAP those toys are you would never play a game of chance again. Even the gigantico ones are maybe twenty-five cents, tops. And the little ones come in a giant bag and are like a nickel for the whole bag.

Even if they set up the machine so you won a toy every single time they’d still make a massive profit. Actually, they’d probably make a bigger profit than they do because people’d play if they could win.




I know it’s a scam. I NEVER played them as a kid. I tell my kid it’s a scam. We still gotta try.


In Japan out of all the ones in the machine there’s usually only one toy positioned you can win. After that the staff have to reset another one in place.

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Yeah, I was at an arcade the other day, and it screamed CASINO CASINO CASINO. I told my son to stick to skee ball.

Is there a way to rig skee ball too?

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I can understand how, today, with modern electronics, they are rigged in such a clever fashion, with a percent “payoff” and so on, but how did it work in earlier eras? Is there a simple mechanical way to achieve a similar effect? Or did they simply not grip well all the time?

Probably the operator pulling on a tension cable.

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The machines I remember from the 1980s simply had (intentionally) very poorly designed claws. There was a lot of lateral play in the pivots, so the arms would splay sideways, letting the object fall out.


Some years back, I found a claw machine with a fatal error condition: the coiled control wire had become looped under one of the claws, giving it extra gripping power.

Needless to say, shenanigans followed.


No, because you can’t win money, only prizes. There are a lot of arcade-type machines in the US that will give you tickets that you can exchange for prizes. This is not considered gambling. If you can win actual cash, then it’s gambling.

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I would assume it could it done with pressure buildup. Like hydraulic or air pressure after x turns the claw is strong enough to grab.

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