The Thai Ministry of Interior has banned claw cranes, according to the Bangkok Post, by an edict passed on February 19th by the ministry to all governors across the country. Every machine that requires customers to pay money or tokens is now banned from using a claw to win a prize or play games on screens.
Officials from the Thai ministry will start by making their rounds in shopping malls and then any other location that these type of machines are found. Initially, unlicensed machine operators will be given a warning, but they could be fined or arrested if they continue to violate the law. There are over 1,300 crane claw machines in 75 malls across Thailand, according to a gambling opponent in the region, which cites a recent survey.
The argument of the anti-gambling crowd is that the machines teach gambling, an assertion that is not based on any scientific study or research of any type. We actually teach that life will not always reward you with money, which is a good lesson to learn. The wheels have already been set in motion, however, and the smart money, with the increasing amount of resources being spent on gambling, is becoming a bigger issue than just Thailand isolated.
If the basic debate about what classifies something as gambling is whether it is luck or ability, then only those who understand the difference need to call the shots. Some individuals around the world believe, mistakenly, that poker is a game of luck. The number of players consistently doing well at the game clearly counteracts this claim. If it were just based on chance, there would be more level playing field and we wouldn’t always see players like Daniel Negreanu, Justin Bonomo and others at the top of the leaderboards.
Whilst Claw cranes aren’t in the same league as poker, anyone who’s been involved in the activity knows there’s a certain amount of skill involved–knowing where to place the claw and what objects are more likely to be grabbed. Regulating the machines is nothing wrong-any company should be regulated. Banning them, however, seems to be a severe and drastic step that will not have the intended outcome.