A retired officer trained in enforcing proper use of carnival midway games claims that some of the games at Dearborn's Arab International Festival are rigged.
Dearborn resident Richard Margittay filed a complaint in June with both the Dearborn Police Department and Wayne County Sheriff's Department, alleging that he watched 166 people play one of two basketball games, and not a single one made the free throw shot required to win a prize at the carnival game.
In a , Margittay said he saw similar results at the 2012 Spirit Festival in Dearborn Heights in June.
North American Midway Entertainment, which is the company in charge of the carnival games and rides at both festivals, runs more than 100 carnivals all across the U.S., and Canada.
A representative from NAME told Patch that they've never heard of any other allegations of fraud at their carnivals, and take the issue of making their games fair very seriously.
But Margittay, the author of two books on the issue of carnival scams, isn't the only one alleging that the games–though assumed to be hard to win–are borderline illegal.
In an undercover investigation, Today Show reporter Jeff Rossen took a hidden camera into carnivals in Mississippi and Indiana, showing multiple children playing and losing a basketball game similar to the one Margittay reported at the Arab International Festival.
"This game is — the way it's made, it's designed for the player to lose," carnival game investigator Bruce Walstad told the Today Show. "Your chances of sinking the ball in that basket are slim to none."
The Today Show similarly looked into several other carnival games, finding that almost no one was able to win.
Margittay explained that at the Arab Festival, as with many other carnivals, the odds against players in the basketball game are due to two factors: overinflated basketballs, and oval-shaped rims.
Indeed, he visited the festival grounds during off hours and measured the hoops and ball in the game. The ball did fit through the hoop, he said, but would need a perfect shot to make it in.
Margittay said that complaints made to police, and to the Arab American Chamber of Commerce–which puts on the Arab International Festival–were ignored.
The could not be reached for comment on the issue.
"If walking patrols from the WCSD will not police the carnival, who will?" Margittay said, adding that he hopes the state will look into the issue.