Thu, Apr 04, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Many claw stores illegal: probe

By Chen Yi-chia and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Claw machines are pictured in an undated photograph.

Photo courtesy of the Consumer Protection Committee

An investigation by the Executive Yuan’s Consumer Protection Committee and the Consumers’ Foundation has found that about two out of every three claw machines in the six special municipalities are noncompliant, as they are either too close to schools or potentially contain illegal products.

An investigation of 143 claw machine stores in the six municipalities found that in Taipei, 30 percent were set up within 100m of a school, while the figure in New Taipei City was 24 percent, Taoyuan posted 28 percent, Taichung was 14 percent, Tainan had less than 10 percent and none were near schools in Kaohsiung, foundation president Lei Li-fen (雷立芬) said yesterday.

The foundation has long been concerned with claw machines and feels that they should target adults and not be considered arcade games, Lei said, adding that the presence of such stores around schools could affect students.

The foundation found electronic cigarettes, lingerie, sex toys and boxes containing Line accounts for women in claw machines, it said.

The legality of the products is questionable and certainly unsuitable for young people, Lei said.

Discoveries of food and drug products in machines last year could harm consumers on a wide scale, committee Director-General Liu Ching-fang (劉清芳) said.

There were more than 8,000 stores last year, with some providing up to 200 machines, Liu said.

Toys were still the largest genre of products in stores inspected this year, followed by electronics, stationery, clothing, food products and cosmetics, Liu said.

About 75 percent of stores were not up to standards or offered questionable products, Liu said.

The stores might have contravened at least seven laws, including 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), the Electronic Game Arcade Business Regulation Act (電子遊戲場業管理條例) and gambling-related crimes under the Criminal Code, Liu said.

Store and machine owners were uncooperative, with 83 percent of machine owners absent during inspection and 37.5 percent of stores missing both store and machine owners, committee official Wang Chih-hung (王志宏) said.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs’ office in central Taiwan and the Food and Drug Administration are to oversee investigations by local governments’ departments of social welfare and health, Wang said.

Lei said claw machines should be under the ministry’s jurisdiction.

The Electronic Game Arcade Business Regulation Act should be the legal basis for managing the stores, with defined age restrictions and separated legal responsibilities for store owners and machine owners, Lei said, adding that stores should also be responsible for the merchandise in all machines.

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