Osaka game centers raided for rigging claw crane machines

Employees of a company that manages game centers has been accused of rigging claw crane machines such that winning is not possible
Employees of a company that manages game centers has been accused of rigging claw crane machines such that winning is not possible (TV Asahi)

OSAKA (TR) – Osaka Prefectural Police have busted a company for rigging arcade games such that winning was not possible in a case that is considered a nationwide first, reports the Asahi Shimbun (Dec. 23).

On Saturday, police found that two of five game centers managed by Amusement Trust, both located in the Minami entertainment area, had claw crane machines — whereby a player directs attempts to grab a prize with a mechanical arm — rigged such that winning is impossible.

Six employees, who were arrested on suspicion of fraud, said that Takeshi Odaira, the 33-year-old president of the company, taught them how to rig the games. However, the president denies the charges.

According to police, four women were defrauded by the suspects in inserting a total of 470,000 yen into such machines without claiming a single prize.

In playing such a game, customers are charged between 500 yen and 10,000 yen for a chance to claim a variety of a prizes, including stuffed animals and tablet computers.

According to police, an employee would demonstrate in front of a customer that it is possible to win. However, before a customer played the settings of the machine would be changed such that the mechanical arm could not retrieve a prize.

The case represents the first instance of a game center being busted for fraud related to a rigged claw crane machine, police said.

“Rip-off game centers”

Since 2015, police have received 30 complaints from customers about rigged machines at the game centers, with losses totaling about 6 million yen.

On the internet, the parlors are known as “rip-off game centers,” with netizens sharing stories about how employees would demonstrate how easily prizes could be won before they subsequently lost tens of thousands of yen in trying to replicate the feats.

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