Most people emerge from an encounter with a claw machine cursing their lack of hand-to-eye-coordination and also suspecting the device is rigged.

While we can't speak to how coordinated you really are, we've just learned that claw machines are, in fact, rigged. And such manipulation is perfectly legal!

Yesterday, an arcade owner did an IAMA ("I am a") question and answer session on Reddit. The very first question he got was "are claw machines rigged?" Here is how he answered:

Yes Indeed they are!
Most machines have a CMS (Command Module Settings) which allow the owner to change a couple factors:
* Chance of winning. Win/Lose, typically 1/12 In Cali or 1/15 In Nevada!
* PSI of claw. Most claws are 5-8 PSI requiring 10-13 to grab an item. Note, the setting module for the PSI is usually manual, there are springs on the claw that have little red marks. The module will tell you which mark to tighten the spring for the desired effect
* Cost/Accepted Money. Either DBA(Dollar Bill Acceptor) or Coin
Under California law my claws are set to 1/12 which means 1/12 players will have a chance to win. The example I used before is a 'toy' requires 10 PSI to lift. My claw during 11/12 tries will apply 4-6 PSI, or just enough to shuffle it or barely pick it up. During the 1/12 tries the claw will apply 9-11 PSI, sometimes picking it up and dropping, some successful

In summary, even if you successfully grab a prize you only have a one-in-12 chance of having enough power to lift it to pay dirt.

So it turns out we are all just pawns at the mercy of Big Carnival and their cronies in the state government. Just think of how many plush toys you would have if they were forced to play fair.