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Event Planning, Fun Story

Common Scams On Funfair Games

10 August 2020
corner gun

To be fair, most of these aren’t actual scams. A lot of them rely on people not actually reading the instructions. When I learnt to fly I had 9 written exams to take, and as I walked into the room for the first one, my instructor said “RTFQ”. Now I was once told that becoming a pilot, was learning lots of acronyms and learning how to manage a hangover. I had learnt the acronyms by that point but RTFQ was a new one. Turned out to be ‘Read The Fu***NG Questions’! Seems a lot of students rushed the exam and lost points simply for not understanding the paper. And I still have trouble with hangovers. So read on to learn about some of the common scams on funfair games.

This is more of a misconception than a scam. Anyone that shoots regularly, would spend time setting up the gun to suit both his requirements and the range they were shooting at. Guns on the gallery tend to be left set up the way they came out of the box.

A lot think that the sights are off or the barrel bent. Hmm, a bent barrel doesn’t fire round corners, it tends not to fire at all as the pellet gets stuck. As to the sights being set off, some operators do that. Thing is anyone who knows how to shoot would simply fire the first shot, see which way the pellet was off, and adjust their aim accordingly. Anyone who doesn’t know how to shoot will miss, regardless of where the sights are set to.

corner gun
corner gun


You know this game, you have to throw the ring over a wooden block with a prize on, if the ring goes completely over the block and lays flat on the table you win the prize.

Now, the first problem here, is that people don’t read the instructions, they think all you need to do is get the ring over the prize. Something Stevie Wonder could probably manage. They are seldom happy once you explain why they can’t have that expensive computer game they have just told their kid they won.

Another oft heard complaint, is “The rings don’t fit over the block.” Very quickly disproved as the game operator will demonstrate they do fit.

Where the scam comes into it, if that is the right word. Is that the blocks containing the lower value prizes, perhaps a box of chocolates or small teddy. Are actually slightly smaller than the ones with the big ticket items. You can actually win on any of them, but are far more likely to be successful on the cheap stuff.

One tip is to spin the ring as you throw it, if it catches the prize right it will tend to keep spinning and work its way down and around the block.


The darts used tend to be cheap, disposable type darts, with the tips blunted. To get them to stick in the board you will need to use more force than normal and that will affect you accuracy, though most of the professional operators will actually let you use your own darts, to stave off any claims of impropriety.

A common game is bust the balloon. A board full of balloons and all you need to do is bust one with a dart, easy peasy right. Sadly harder than you think. The darts are slightly blunt, and the balloons being only partially inflated have enough give to shrug off most darts hitting them.

Bust A Balloon Game
Bust A Balloon Game

Pick A Ticket

In earlier years, this tended to consist of a guy (or girl) holding a basket full of sealed tickets or spinning a tombola. You paid your money, picked your tickets out, opened them, and usually found you had a fist full of losers.

Trouble is, no one would put the winning tickets in a basket. It was just too random. Sods law would dictate that when the fair was full and you wanted someone to win, no one ever did. Just as the fair was closing for the night and was pretty much deserted, someone would have a last go and win the star prize.

Eventually the Dutch system was imported. This consisted of tickets with various numbers on. To win your numbers had to add up to 21. You could play multiple times and keep your tickets to make the magic number. Thing is, you needed an odd number to win, and these were in short supply.

However, in this game, the ‘dealer’ has packets of tickets pre prepared. He knows which packets have winning tickets in so can control when someone wins. You tend to find winners come thick and fast just as a crowd is beginning to form. Once there is a large crowd playing the game then winners come out at regular intervals to keep them interested, but it is a pretty well controlled stream of winners.

Win Me If You Lose

This is one which definitely falls into the RTFQ bracket.

What happens is you see a stall with massive prizes, and large signs saying you get me if you lose. So you rush over pays your £2, cos this is a no brainer, that big teddy must be worth £50 retail, and its only gonna cost me two quid.

You throw your darts, add the numbers up and yay, you are a winner. As you sit back basking in the glory of showing your friends you are one of life’s winners, the girl in the stall hands you a keyring.

WTF. Before you explode you should really read the rules. You do in fact get the super big teddy if you lose. Trouble is you haven’t lost. The sign doesn’t say that winners get better prizes than losers. All the operator has done really, is swapped the scores around. To actually lose the game is very very difficult. SO virtually everyone wins, and gets the little prize.

The thing to bear in mind is basic common sense. No business can afford to continually swap £2 for £50 prizes. If it looks too good to be true, then it is most certainly going to be.

A variation on this are games like the hook a duck stall. You rarely win the big prize, but you can save your smaller wins up and exchange them. You really do need to work out how much something is going to cost you before you get carried away in the excitement of the day.

Genuine Games

There are many games on the fairground that give you the chance to win large prizes, but you must expect them to be difficult, or need a decent level of skill. At the end of the day, the stalls are all small businesses, and to stay in business they must take more money than the prizes, rent, fuel, insurance etc cost. So as a rule the bigger the prize, the harder it is to win. A walk around any major fair such as say Hull fair or Nottingham Goose fair, will see dozens of people carrying huge prizes, so it is possible to win them, but just use a little common sense.

If you want to hire funfair games without the scam, no probs, get in touch.

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