Policing the 'fair' in York Fair: County detectives inspect games
If you can't throw a ball through a hoop or toss a plastic ring onto the neck of a bottle at the York Fair this year, you'll have to chalk it up to user error.
York County detectives inspected every game at this year's York Fair on Friday, Sept. 6, ahead of opening-day crowds and found nothing sketchy or amiss, according to Detective Scott James.
County detectives, who work in the York County District Attorney's Office, have been checking the York Fair's games annually for at least two decades, James said.
"We inspect the games to make sure they are winnable," he said. "So when people spend their money on these games, they have a fair chance of winning."
That's not to say the house doesn't have the advantage, James acknowledged.
"Everybody knows that the hoops are bent, but we want to make sure the ball will go through the hoop — that it's a game of skill," he said, and not rigged to be impossible to win.
James said detectives also scrutinize the signage on games to ensure players know how much they're paying, what the rules are, what they're getting for their money — meaning the number of rings or balls or darts — and what prizes they can win.
"We want the signage to be appropriate," he said.
Detectives finished up Friday in two hours, according to James.
That's because in recent years the York Fair has used one vendor for all of its games of skill and chance, the detective said.
"They've been so easy to work with," James said. "This company knows what's expected of them."
In the past, the York Fair contracted with a number of independent game vendors, which is when detectives would sometimes encounter issues, according to James.
Since Florida-based Deggeller Attractions Inc. began handling all the games, detectives haven't encountered unwinnable games or sketchy signage, he said, and prizes have been more family-friendly.
Gone are the small square mirrors with marijuana leaves or rock-band names or logos painted on them, he said. Prizes geared for adults now include authentic team jerseys of major sports franchises, he said.
Deggeller Attractions has been responsive to complaints and has worked with York Fair officials to keep it family-friendly, according to James, who has been inspecting the games since being hired in 2002.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.