Are Claw Game Machines Rigged?

Could claw game machines found in arcades and restaurants actually be rigged so you cannot win?

People call it the claw machine. They’re popular at arcades, restaurants, grocery stores – just about everywhere.

In case you’ve never played, it’s a game where you line up a claw over loot locked up inside a glass container. You then press a button to drop the claw and if you’re lucky, it grabs a prize and drops it into a dispenser.

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If you've ever tried a claw machine, you know it's not easy.

There are countless videos online showing people losing their minds over the stuffed toys and trinkets that are so elusive.

If you’ve played you know how truly difficult it is to emerge victorious. Think about it: how often has the claw grabbed onto a toy and all of a sudden, drop it just before reaching the dispenser?

Well what you may not know is that many of these claw machines can be rigged to make sure you can't win until they've locked in a hefty profit.

Reporter Phil Edwards exposed the secrets of the claw machine for the website

INSIDE EDITION’s Steven Fabian asked Edwards, “Are these claw machines rigged?”

“Yes, I’m afraid the answer is yes,” he replied. “They are rigged. Every vendor that operates one has a way of programming it.”

Edwards said it’s a game of chance, not skill.

“There’s basically a program that any claw machine owner can operate,” he said. “Maybe about one out of every 24 times there will be enough power sent to that claw so that it can really grab onto your stuffed animal. The rest of the time you'll get that sort of weak, limp claw that most of us are familiar with.

“When it's not quite grabbing onto the animal and you’re wondering what the problem is, well the problem is that it's not getting enough voltage for 23 out of the 24 times, or at whatever profit rate the vendor sets.”

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Is he right? The claw machine can programmed to make you lose? To see for himself, Fabian went to Kidz Village, an arcade for children in New Jersey.

Kathleen O’Boyle showed him how easy it is to program their claw machine. A dial locked behind the coin receptacle adjusts the claw to be strong enough to pick up the prize. But then when it gets to the top, it weakens and the prize drops before you can win – luring people into thinking they were close.

Kidz Village programs its claw machine to make sure all the children who play it come out winners.

So if you thought this was a game of skill, think again; your machine could be rigged. But that probably won’t stop people from trying.

Edwards, who calls himself a claw enthusiast, said, “I will probably still keep on feeding them money, just because it's a lot of fun. But at least I know now that it's not my fault when I fail to get the stuffed animal.”

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