BBC investigation alleges Thorpe Park manipulates midway games

Posted Wednesday, July 3, 2013 2:58 PM | Contributed by Jeff

Staff at one of Britain’s largest amusement parks, Thorpe Park, have been caught employing a variety of “underhand tactics” to prevent visitors winning prizes on games stalls, a BBC investigation has claimed. Presenter Sian Williams and a team of undercover researchers – two of whom got jobs on the stalls – found evidence that the games were being deliberately manipulated to reduce the chances of players winning, and even, on some occasions, of losing.

Read more from The Independent and The Daily Mail.

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013 6:25 PM

Well, that settles it. Everybody grab a broom, it's shenanigans!

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013 8:35 PM

What? Amusement park midway games that are rigged? Unheard of! This is probably the same group that might investigate why they bought beans at a flee market, and, and could not figure out why a giant bean stalk into the clouds didn't magically appear. Because the person selling them claimed it would grow. Or, looking in the sewers for the real teenage mutant ninja turtles, because someone claimed they were real. I was going to bring up Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny, But I'm sure they are still scratching their heads on that one. Midway games are designed to make money, not allow people to win. I have worked at them so I know.

If you want to do a more important story, dig into those casinos, who advertise that you can win huge amounts of money, when the odds of actually winning that big money, are even worse than winning a rigged midway game. But, it's basically the same idea. You take your chances playing any games, and for anyone to be surprised, or spend money on an investigation, into that, is wasting their money.

It's obvious. Though some games have better odds then others. And, some parks have a better prize payout then others too. But, I personally never spend a dime on them. They are nothing more than a money sponge.

I read the article, and some of what was said is true. Some customers are "allowed" to win. I mentioned this in another games post, some fairs want a customer to be seen carrying around that big stuffed toy, so it gives people the illusion that the games are easy. Then when it gets busy, they make the game harder to win, just as the person in the article said.

For example, those basketball toss games. There are usually 4 or five hoops. Watch where the worker stands. They don't throw the ball straight towards the hoop, but more from the side, and know exactly which hoop the ball is going to go into. Not every hoop is the same diameter, and not every hoop is angled the same. But you can't tell that from looking at them. Some are barely big enough for the ball to fit through. Also the workers are trained to know exactly how and where to shoot the ball from. Which is why they seem to make an easy basket every time.

I worked the bottle game and the ring toss. And, even though those games are not 100 percent rigged, it is a lot harder than it looks. Like I mentioned about the ring toss game, where you have to get the ring totally around an object, and flat at the base in order to win. The ring is just big enough to lay flat around the base of the object, which is usually a square base, ad the ring has to be placed on it just right, in order for it to fit. A ring that is slightly mis-shaped is not going to fit at all.

It's all stuff that you don't think about as a customer, and don't notice, because the variation is hardly noticeable. But, trust me, it's there.

Last edited by Timber-Rider, Wednesday, July 3, 2013 9:08 PM
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Wednesday, July 3, 2013 9:47 PM

Hey, I made out big time at Circus Circus as a kid. How dare someone claim them Casinos are Crooked.

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Thursday, July 4, 2013 6:17 PM

I'll tell you how crooked a casino is. I was at the Soaring Eagle casino in Mount pleasant, MI, and I hit a huge jackpot on a flaming 7's machine. Which was a progressive machine with a jackpot of over $1,000.000.00.

I hit the progressive jackpot, and the machine started playing "You're In The Money." It went to "call for an attendant for payout!" I was so excited, and everyone around the machine was applauding for me, when the machine suddenly went black and completely shut off.

The slot attendant came over wanting to know why my light was on. And I told him I hit the Jackpot! He looked up at the progressive light, and it had gone down from over $1,600,000.00 something, to $10,000.00. He opened the machine, and pressed a few buttons, and the machine turned back on. Then he claimed he looked through the history, and told me I didn't win anything.

So, we all asked, then why did the progressive jackpot drop down from over $1,000,000.00 to $10,000.00 and he yelled at everyone and told us to mind our own business. Then he got on his walky talky, and a few minutes later a couple maintenance guys came with a dolly, turned the machine off and hauled it away. And, I didn't get a dime, or an apology.

I had already won $600.00 on the same machine, before the big winning spin. But I was PISSED!! But I showed them. I won another $750.00 on another machine, and $3,500.00 on another machine, and left with over $5,000.00 by the time I left. But getting totally screwed out of almost 1.7 million really gives me a low opinion of casinos.

I should also mention, that after I left that machine, there were a couple plain clothed guys following me. So maybe my big wins after that machine were not just luck, maybe they were throwing me bones, so I would leave happy, and not sue their asses, and it would be my name on the building.

Last edited by Timber-Rider, Thursday, July 4, 2013 6:27 PM
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Friday, July 5, 2013 9:01 AM

Man, just think how many trips to Michigan's Adventure that would've funded.

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Friday, July 5, 2013 2:33 PM

Ah my beloved public funded BBC (that I personally have to pay £11.50 per month towards) and their intrepid dumbed down reporters are risking life and limb to report "underhand tactics" I see.

If you want to read about real "underhand tactics" then look no further than our very own UK News From four days ago (July 1st):

"The BBC has been criticised by the National Audit Office for paying out £25m in severance to 150 senior BBC managers, and risking "public trust".

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Friday, July 5, 2013 5:57 PM

Timber-Rider said:

I'll tell you how crooked a casino is. I was at the Soaring Eagle casino...

Judging from the lack of responses to this, I'm assuming everyone is at the same loss of words that I am.

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Saturday, July 6, 2013 1:54 AM

This kind of reminds me of the topic about the guy who lost his life savings to win an X-Box? lol

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Monday, July 8, 2013 9:15 AM

Just remember, all slot machines carry this warning label:

"Malfunction voids all plays and payouts"

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Monday, July 8, 2013 1:07 PM

LostKause said:

This kind of reminds me of the topic about the guy who lost his life savings to win an X-Box? lol

Yep. $2,600 down the tubes and all he got was a banana with dreadlocks!

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Monday, July 8, 2013 10:05 PM

Raven-Phile said:

Just remember, all slot machines carry this warning label:

"Malfunction voids all plays and payouts"

Never seen any label like that. I have been to 5 different casinos. Only won big money at 2 of them. I have not been back to one, since I got ripped at Soaring eagle. If so, that is very convenient for the casino.

I also forgot to mention, that when I hit the big jackpot, I also had $235 worth of credits on the machine when I won. So, when they took the machine away, I not only lost the big jackpot, but they also did not credit me for what I had on the machine, before it hit. S0, yeah.. Crooked.

Last edited by Timber-Rider, Monday, July 8, 2013 10:13 PM
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Tuesday, July 9, 2013 1:03 AM

It may not have been the million you think you deserve, but I'd be happy with the amounts you say you won anyway. Five thousand bucks sounds like a good payday at any casino to me.

I go to our casinos frequently and every machine carries that malfunction=no pay warning. Sometimes it's small but it's there. Besides, would that have kept you from playing?

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013 1:30 PM

Hopman said:

Yep. $2,600 down the tubes and all he got was a banana with dreadlocks!

Which he ended up selling for his $2,600 *plus* the X-Box....

....winning.... (/Charlie Sheen)

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013 3:02 PM

The good news: He got his $2600 back.

The bad news: The money was likely lost it in a "malfunctioning" slot machine the next day, and now he probably expects to be bailed out.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013 12:18 AM

Did he really get the money back? Personal accountability is a dying, if not already dead value in modern society. Such a shame.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013 12:46 AM

rollergator said:

Well, that settles it. Everybody grab a broom, it's shenanigans!

I feel like you or someone else posted a similar pronouncement of shenanigans when that guy in NH lost all his money to a carnival game. Either way it's still funny.

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