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70% of claw machine stores surveyed in major Taiwanese cities are illegal

Investigation of claw machine arcades in 6 major Taiwanese cities finds 70 percent contain illegal goods

(Photo by Consumers' Foundation)

(Photo by Consumers' Foundation)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- The Executive Yuan’s Consumer Protection Committee and the Consumers’ Foundation released the results of an investigation which found that 70 percent of claw machine arcades sold illegal goods and violated at least seven laws and regulations and many are within 100 meters of schools.

During a press conference held on Children's Day today, the two organizations announced that an investigation of claw game arcades in six major Taiwanese cities revealed that 20 percent of the shops were within 100 meters of schools and 70 percent were selling illegal goods such as e-cigarettes, lingerie, sex toys, and other adult products.

In response, Chen Mi-shun (陳秘順), deputy head of the MOEA's Department of Commerce, said that the Electronic Game Arcade Business Regulation Act (電子遊戲場業管理條例) currently does not apply to claw machine arcades because they are not considered electronic gaming venues. Whether they should be included as an electronic gaming venue in the future will require public discussions.

There are a total of 8,000 claw machine arcades in Taiwan now. In January, the Consumers' Foundation dispatched a team of volunteers to conduct a random survey of areas around elementary and junior high schools.

When investigating 143 crane game arcades, they found that 30 percent of the arcades were within 100 meters in Taipei City, 24 percent in New Taipei City, 28 percent in Taoyuan, 14 percent in Taichung, and 10 percent in Tainan. However, no claw game arcades were found to be within 100 meters of any schools in Kaohsiung.

Examples of adult products sold in these arcades included e-cigarettes, electric lighters, dating boxes (including women's contact information), women's panties, adult anime products, sex toys, sex dolls, and vibrators. The organization pointed out that none of these products are suitable for children or teenagers to purchase or use.

Of the 20 claw machine venues surveyed by the Consumer Protection Committee, 14 were found be in violation of the regulations, while 15 displayed "irregular goods," a ratio of more than 70 percent. Violations included egg-shaped vibrators, phallic vibrators, and e-cigarettes.

Many of the arcades were found to be in violation of the Protection of Children and Youths Welfare and Rights Act (兒童及少年福利與權益保障法), the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act (菸害防制法), the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation (食品安全衛生管理法), the Statute for Prevention and Control of Infectious Animal Disease (動物傳染病防治條例), the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act (藥事法), and gambling-related crimes under the Criminal Code.

Consumers' Foundation president Lei Li-fen (雷立芬) said that because claw machines are not considered "video games," they are not restricted by the Electronic Game Arcade Business Regulation Act. Therefore, the lack of regulation has resulted in the current chaotic situation near schools.

Lei recommended that the solution is the Ministry of Economic Affairs apply the Electronic Game Arcade Business Regulation Act as the legal basis to manage these stores.

70% of claw machine stores surveyed in major Taiwanese cities are illegal
Example of adult products seen in some claw machines. (Photo by Consumers' Foundation)