Thailand Bans Claw Machines as Form of Gambling

The government of Thailand is banning claw machine arcade games throughout most of the country, deeming that the machines are gambling devices.

An order banning the machines was issued by Minister Pawin Chamniprasart of the Interior Ministry. The machines subject to the ban are claw machines where players try to select a toy or doll in a case by inserting money or tokens. The minister claims that the process of putting money in without any guarantee of return makes these machines gambling, and thus in violation of law. Machines, where players are guaranteed a prize such as candy, are not considered to be gambling under the order.

Claw machines are popular among youth in the country, with lawmakers concerned that the devices could turn children into gambling addicts. Machines are often found at malls, and a survey found there to be more than 1,300 machines at 75 malls throughout the country.

Operators of the machines will be given a warning if they're found to be running the machines, but could face fines or jail if they ignore the warning.

About the author

Kingston Li // Asia Correspondent
Kingston Li
Kingston is a big fan of Baccarat and Texas Hold'em Poker and has tested his skills in tournaments around Asia and the world. He covers the latest gambling news from Asia for Casino Listings. In his spare time, Kingston enjoys hiking, video gaming, and playing disc golf.
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usbarbadosslim93
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24 February 2020 - 6:10pm
#1

We have these machines here. I'm a fan of the Japanese ones where you win figures, but they're definitely a form of gambling. It's a shame that "arcades" these days rarely have any true arcade games, but mostly ticket redemption games based solely on luck. We call them kiddie casinos nowadays. Give me the old-school arcades any day of the week!

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auCL - klaw
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24 February 2020 - 11:17pm
#2

Ugh! I hate these machines. They are usually filled with crappy soft toys. When my kids were really small, my father in law tried to teach them what a waste of money they were, so he put some money in, moved the claw around and promptly won a crappy soft toy on the first try! 🙄Wish he tried it on one of those machines with an ipad in them instead!

I have to agree with you Slim, those redemption machines suck, the kids love trying to collect as many as they can and all they get for $20 worth of play is a handful of tickets to exchange for a piece of plastic crap that breaks within minutes and ends up in landfill!

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25 February 2020 - 3:52am
#3

I'm just going to leave this here:
New Improved Claw Machine Features Weaker Claw Design

sharpe

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25 February 2020 - 6:16pm
#4

Lol, Ed.

I agree, the garbage with most of those claw machines is terrible and I refuse to let my kids play them. I've done some of those Sega UFO style ones that they supposedly have in Japan and have scored some neat Banpresto figures. Those ones aren't necessarily "rigged" with the weak claw grabber, but instead rely on you being able to push or pull figures toward an area. Still a money suck, and I limit myself to two tries if I am to try one.

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25 February 2020 - 10:50pm
#5

So do you guys know how they work? There is a usually magnet or variable voltage or other mechanism in the claw that needs to be activated for the claw to be strong enough to pick up the prize. And the claw is only active some of the time. Some machines even have adaptive and deterministic profit level targets so if people have been winning a lot the game stops allowing you to win until it recovers some money.

So it doesn't matter how good your aim is or the positioning of the prizes, because on most attempts it is physically impossible to win. It is worse than straight up gambling on a slot machine, its akin to playing on a rigged non-random slot that deliberately stops you from winning because someone else won on it earlier.

At least you have a chance of winning something on every spin of a random slot machine, even if the odds are against you coming ahead in the long run.

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26 February 2020 - 5:36pm
#6

Yeah those are valid points. I think it's crazy that a game like pinball was banned in some parts for being gambling (it's just fun, folks) but the rigged claw games can be in operation to this day.

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26 February 2020 - 11:02pm
#7

Yeah the old pinball bans sound hilarious. But the original games did not have flippers and players just shot a ball up and hoped it would bounce around and land in a hole that won them a free game or gum or other prizes. It sounds like they were similar to pachinko machines, so they probably were gambling. I think the flippers were added for the very reason of making it into a game of skill.

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29 February 2020 - 2:06pm
#8

I've seen such a machine just once in my life time, as a kid (has to be the original model, Lol) and for a few hours hanging around I didn't see any kid (or adult) being able to take out anything from it and there was some fancy expensive stuff which every kid (and not only) would of wanted back in the day like electronic casio watches and portable video consoles, but the claw grabber was so loose that it was obvious it's impossible to grab and take anything out of the thing.

Glad they've banned these in Thailand cause it's obvious claw machines are a huge temptation for the kids.

CL - klaw

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