Is clawing for cash gambling?
Concerns raised about arcade game after toys are found tied with cash
Winning soft toys and trinkets from claw machines at arcades is common. But one machine in Ang Mo Kio rewards players with something extra - cash tied around soft toys.
To play, one has to use a button and joystick to control the claw and pluck prizes from the machine.
If successful, the claw drops the prize into an opening. The player then collects the toy.
But this claw machine on the third-storey lobby of Big Mac Centre at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 poses the question: Is it gambling?
The lobby is shared by a cyber cafe and a pool arcade. It is not known if they share the same management.
Each try on the machine costs $1. Lianhe Wanbao reported yesterday that of the 20 soft toys in the machine, five had $10 notes tied around them while four had a $2 note on each. The notes were fastened to the toys with rubber bands.
When The New Paper visited the arcade yesterday, the machine was still there - minus the cash.
Counter staff who spoke to TNP claimed that they had not noticed cash on the toys before. Attempts to reach the supervisor were unsuccessful.
Two teenage boys, who declined to be named, told TNP that they visit the cyber cafe and pool arcade twice weekly, but noticed cash in the claw machine only once.
Offering cash prizes at arcades is unheard of and such places might not have the proper licence to do so, said Mr Rajan Supramaniam, a lawyer at Hilborne Law LLC.
He said that while most entertainment centres offer prizes to winners, those that offer cash prizes - like casinos and lotteries - need to have a licence.
Mr Supramaniam said it would be illegal if the owners of the claw machine was offering cash as a reward without proper authorisation.
"Personally, I think it promotes gambling. You're enticing young people to spend money to try their luck," he said.
Lawyer Ravinderpal Singh from Kalco Law LLC defined gambling as "playing a game of chance".
Offering cash prizes in the claw machine might not be illegal or considered gambling because it might be a game of skill and not chance, he said.
Mrs Dorcas Lim, 39, an assistant manager at a shipping firm, was concerned.
The mother of two teenagers, who are aged 14 and 12 and visit arcades occasionally, said: "It's not appropriate to use money to lure these kids to play games.
"It's not a casino, it's an arcade where they go to have fun and de-stress."
"It might make children more open to the idea of casinos and gambling. They might think money can be easily earned this way."
It might make children more open to the idea of casinos and gambling. They might think money can be easily earned this way.
- Mrs Dorcas Lim, mother of two teenagers, on tying cash to toys in claw machines