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Lawsuit Says Sega’s Key Master Arcade Game Is Intentionally Rigged

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  • Sega is being sued for $5 million over claims its Key Master arcade game is rigged. 
  • A lawsuit says the game was marketed as a game of skill but is more like a game of chance. 
  • The game won’t allow a player to win until after a certain number of losses, the lawsuit said. 
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sega’s Key Master arcade game is at the center of a class-action complaint that says the game is intentionally rigged against players. 

The lawsuit, filed on Monday in California, said the game was “systematically marketed and sold” as a game of “pure skill” but is instead rigged to “prevent even highly-skilled users from being able to win” until there’s been a set number of losses.  

Plaintiff Marcelo Muto is suing the company for $5 million. 

“Nowhere on the Key Master Machine do Defendants inform consumers of the truth: that the machines are rigged so that players can only win prizes at certain times,” lawyers for Muto said in the lawsuit.

The game is found in arcades and malls across the country, Screen Rant reported. 

Players have to hit a button to move a key into a specific keyhole to win prizes like earbuds and video games.

The lawsuit said that even if a highly skilled player were to move the key into a specific keyhole for a prize, if it’s not in a pre-programmed time that allows for a win, the game will overshoot the keyhole and the player would lose. There are multiple YouTube videos with tips and tricks on how to beat the game that acknowledge the issue.

In the lawsuit, Muto’s lawyers said the default number of losses on a machine is set to 700 before winning is allowed. They added that each machine can also be individually programmed to any number of losses before a win. 

The game is no longer featured on Sega’s website but a similar game called Prize Locker was released and is advertised as a “100% skilled-based” game. The lawsuit said Sega itself acknowledged the game is not a game of “pure skill” with the rebrand. 

The lawsuit said Sega made the switch because they realized regulations in many places in the world don’t allow the Key Master game. They added that a conversion kit that was sold to remodel Key Master machines into more skill-based machines also shows Sega was aware of the issue.

“Defendants have refused to cease their deceptive conduct and continue to manufacture and advertise the Key Master Machines as games of skill, as opposed to the illicit gambling machines they truly are,” the lawsuit said. “This refusal, and continued marketing of the Key Master Machines as games of skill, only serve the profit interests of Defendants.”

This isn’t the first time the Key Master game has caused controversy. Tucson.com reported in 2019 that a vendor settled a $1 million lawsuit over the game. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said the game was set up to only allow someone to win after 2,200 attempts and that it was more like a chance-based game, which are only legal in casinos in the state. 

Insider has attempted to reach Sega for comment. 

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