Thailand issues nationwide ban on claw games under Gambling Act
The Interior Ministry of Thailand has banned ‘claw crane’ games after reclassifying the popular arcade amusements as a form of illegal gambling.
Pawin Chamniprasart, the deputy interior minister, signed the order on February 19 and informed all regional governors that the ban would take effect nationwide.
In games such as the Skill Tester, which can be found in shopping centres and gaming arcades the world over, players insert coins into the machine and attempt to pick out a prize from within a glass case by using a joystick to control a crane-like claw device.
Because there is no guarantee that players will get anything in return for their money, the Thai government believes these claw games constitute a type of betting.
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The ban order said this style of gaming differed to other arcade favourites such as toy-egg dispenser machines, where players always receive some sort of prize – albeit random – in exchange for their coins or tokens.
The controversial move comes after youth activists in Thailand lobbied the government clamp down on claw machines and other games of chance available to people of all ages.
The No Gambling Youth Group, with backing from a Supreme Court ruling, declared last month that claw games were a form of betting under the nation’s Gambling Act.
Under the new guidelines, venue operators that ignore orders to remove their claw games could face criminal charges.