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Arcade Games May Amount To Gambling

Photo Credit: ThinkStock

Photo Credit: ThinkStock

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Any parent who has ever dropped $50 in about 10 minutes at an arcade or a restaurant with a kiddie game section will want to hear about a lawsuit filed last month in California.

A woman in California has sued Denny’s restaurant which has an arcade section with games including the Claw. She says that by offering the Claw game, Denny’s is violating the gambling laws. The claim is that a game like the Claw isn’t a game of skill, it’s primarily a game of chance.

Unlike many other arcade games (e.g. Pac-Man, Skeeball, pinball, etc.) which require hand-eye coordination, concentration, and physical skill, the outcome of claw machines is based entirely or at least predominantly on chance. In other words, the player has no ability to control the outcome so under California law, where this lawsuit was filed – and under most other state laws – that meets the definition of gambling which is illegal. And it’s not just the Claw that could potentially be affected – games that require the player to insert money or tokens into the machine and offer the player a chance to win stuffed dolls, toys, or tickets to redeem for other prizes by luck and not by skill would fall into the same category.

So, if this lawsuit is successful, you might have to say to your kid, “gee, I wish I could give you a hundred quarters to make disappear in no time, but the law says it can’t be done. Oh well. Here’s a dollar bill. Go flush it down the toilet. It will take the same time and have the same effect.”

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