(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblymen James Kennedy and Jamel Holley to better regulate claw and crane games to prevent rigging that unfairly lowers the odds of winning for players was released Monday by an Assembly panel.

The outcome of these games is determined by chance, and is based on the mechanical and programming specifications set for the machines. According to media reports, operators can easily adjust the machines to make it almost impossible to win a prize unless you play multiple times.

“These games are meant to be hard. But there’s a difference between hard and impossible,” said Kennedy (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). “Better oversight can help ensure that people are not just feeding money into machines that have been rigged to work against them.”

“There’s risk with all games of chance. But if operators are rigging these machines to work in their favor, that’s just cheating,” said Holley (D-Union). “Enhanced oversight can help ensure these machines are being operated fairly so people who play these games are not taken advantage of.”

Claw and crane games are currently overseen by the state’s Legalized Games of Chance Control Commission within the Division of Consumer Affairs, and are inspected three times a year.

The bill (A-1366) would require the commission to establish standards related to mechanical and programming specifications to ensure that a player has reasonable odds of obtaining a prize.

The standards would be required to include, but may not be limited to, the mechanical and programming specifications required for each crane or claw machine to ensure that a player has reasonable odds of obtaining a prize. The commission would determine what constitutes reasonable odds with respect to each kind of crane or claw machine based on a review of similar regulations in other states or jurisdictions, industry standards, public comment, input from amusement game operators in this state, and information from any other appropriate entities or constituencies.

The bill would also require the commission to only issue a certification of permissibility to an amusement games licensee or operator of a crane or claw machine game, if the commission determines that the machine is in compliance with the promulgated standards.

However, the bill would require the commission to establish a reasonable timeframe for existing licensees to comply with the new crane or claw machine standards.

The bill was approved by the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee.