Chiang Mai rules ‘crane-claw’ machines are legal, 2 years after govt ban


The Chiang Mai public prosecutor has dismissed a case against a “crane-claw” game arcade operator, ruling that the games are vending machines rather than gambling devices.

The ruling could set a precedent, reversing the government’s nationwide ban on claw games imposed two years ago under gambling laws.

Kasem Suphasit, legal adviser to Family Amusement Co Ltd, said the case in Chiang Mai came after police arrested crane-game store operators at Promenada shopping centre in Muang district on March 17 last year.

"Administrative staff and Mae Ping police also seized property in the dispute, including 35 claw machines, seven token-exchange machines, Bt198,750 in cash, and two claw machine keys," he explained.

He said Chiang Mai's prosecutor had dropped the charges – organised gambling and concealing or distributing illicitly imported goods – on February 7 this year.

"The prosecutor clarified that Family Amusement Co Ltd produced the claw machines in Thailand," he said. "Meanwhile, claw machines were considered vending machines and the company ruled to be operating its business in line with Interior Ministry guidelines."

He added that he didn't know whether other operators' claw machines violated the law.