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Claw machine secrets revealed: Are they rigged?

Why is it sometimes so hard to grab a prize in a claw machine? Are they rigged? TODAY correspondent Jeff Rossen exposes the secrets.
/ Source: TODAY

You see them at arcades, in bowling alleys, at carnivals and amusement parks: Claw machines. We enjoy playing them, but sometimes, no matter how many times you try, you just can't get the claw to grab the prize. Is it you — or is the machine rigged?

"Yes, most claw machines are rigged," said Jeremy Hambly, who runs ClawStruck, a popular YouTube channel and website that shows how many different models work. "Absolutely not fair. Crane operators can change the strength of the claw throughout the day. They can even set them to pay out at different rates: One in 25, one in 50, which means you will not win unless they say so. "

On a claw machine Rossen Reports purchased from a distributor, Hambly showed TODAY national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen how to manipulate the strength of the claw to pick up and carry prizes.

Rossen Reports even found claw machine manuals online explaining how to set specific odds for winning.

"There needs to be more oversight," Hambly said. "Right now there's basically none, and if a machine is going to pay out one in every 50 times, they should have to post [that] right on it for people."

Other tips:

  • Try the "lurking" technique: Watch other people play and let them loosen the prizes a bit before you swoop in and play.
  • The more expensive the prize, the more difficult it could be to win. In some cases, the odds could be as great as one in 10,000.

To suggest a topic for an upcoming investigation, visit the Rossen Reports Facebook page.