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Brunei Announces Ban of Claw Machines Due to Gambling Concerns

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Brunei has banned the operation of claw machines in its jurisdiction. As announced by the Brunei Minister of Home Affairs Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Ahmaddin Abdul Rahman on Sunday, the claw machine was categorized as “haram” due to its gambling elements and has therefore been prohibited in the country.

The minister gave the announcement to address concerns raised by Legislative Council member Pengiran Isa Pengiran Aliuddin over the status of the claw machine. The minister further stated that the machine is banned under Chapter 181 of the Public Entertainment Act. He added that the Fatwa series released by the State’s Mufti’s Office on December 18, 2023, labeled the claw machine as haram because of its association with gambling.

Related: Virginia Cracks Down on Gas Station Skill Games with New Ban

Before the issuance of the Fatwa, the ministry, via district offices and the municipal board, has identified companies authorized to operate the machine. With the latest development, notices will be issued to cease their licenses. The minister also reiterated that the ministry will continue to partner with the State Mufti’s Office to act against games with gambling features.

Total Ban on Gambling

Brunei is one of the several countries in Asia that generally prohibits gambling. Islam is the official religion of Brunei, and it heavily influences its legal and social systems, including its gambling regulations. The Penal Code of Brunei criminalizes various forms of gambling, both traditional and online. Offenses related to gambling can result in severe penalties, including fines and imprisonment. As such, there are no legal casinos or betting establishments in the country.

The legality of claw crane machines varies across countries. In most states in North America, claw machines are exempted from gambling regulation. In jurisdictions like Alberta and Canada, skill cranes are prohibited unless players are permitted to make multiple attempts until they win a prize.

In 2020, Thailand announced a nationwide ban on claw crane machines. However, in 2022, the public prosecutor of Chiang Mai ruled that claw machines were vending machines rather than gambling machines and were, therefore, legal.

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