The Odds on Cranes & Maximum Returns

Posted on December 12 2018

FEC Operators all over the world try to adjust their machines to optimum levels to assure them the highest revenues but this is not always a good idea. The incentive to adjust the machines to the level where they return all-out revenues to the operator is just too tempting to let go. So what’s the net result? Players go home frustrated, with their suspicions aroused and bad publicity gets produced. Why is that? When machines are set to optimum level, none but the very skilled player gets a chance to win! A scan across Google headlines from American media claims that the player was only going to be successful once every 21 attempts which can be extremely frustrating to FEC operators.

FEC Operators who carry cranes in their facilities will soon face stricter regulation to allow for a more ‘reasonable’ win percentage. In many cases of a total crackdown on crane machines, the root cause for blame must lie with the FEC operators. Why is this controversial? Cranes are a prevalent amusement around the world, but some jurisdictions don’t allow them and try to impose minimum percentage payouts.


In the US, many arcades have started to face tougher limitations on the ‘revenue earning potential’ or the productivity of their crane machines and their ability to attract more footfall for their FECs. Sensible operators use ‘percentaging’ controls in their cranes which are mostly available in the best equipment to ensure a fair return to the player…

Some players have even reported dollar bills strapped around plush (soft toys) in cranes in certain seaside arcades… The win ratio must be so low that well versed players won’t even go there.


Social media gurus also reported a YouTube situation where a Japanese player was showing how to deftly rotate the control lever to create a swinging motion with the claw, which significantly increases the win ratio. The claw may toss the toy closer to the payout cup. This is another of the operators’ difficulties. If the players become too adept, then the "skill" element is augmented to the point where the percentages are altered significantly. It all comes down to a very exact calculation of the balance between cost, risk and fairness. That in itself is a skill on the part of the operator. But the bottom line is, if they switch off the player and frustrate him, they might as well switch off the game and shut off! The customer is always king and remains so…

*Credits: InterGame International Magazine.