Mystery prize machines are back, but boxes no longer a mystery

The boxes in Hey Box's machines now have plastic windows that make the contents visible.
The boxes in Hey Box's machines now have plastic windows that make the contents visible. ST PHOTO: DAVID SUN

SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - At least one mystery prize machine vendor is back in operation here - without the mystery.

Hey Box, which ceased operations along with all other vendors last month, has tweaked its business model to comply with the law. The boxes in the machines now have a plastic window, making the contents visible.

On Aug 16, the police said that operating the machines was considered a form of public lottery and was illegal.

Previously, users typically paid $10 to buy a box which contained a mystery prize, usually mobile phone accessories, but which could also include luxury goods and gaming consoles.

Hey Box founder Rebecca Chan, 28, told The New Paper it restarted operations on Aug 23.

She said: "People will now know what they are buying, and so it is like a sale now. There are no more 'grand prizes', but the items people get will still be worth more than $10."

The new boxes mostly contained items such as earphones and portable chargers.

 
 

Ms Chan added that Hey Box had consulted the police and informed them of the new business model before implementing it, following a statement issued by the police on Aug 27 regarding such operations.

Some vendors have exited the market entirely, such as Lucky Treasure, which announced its exit via Facebook. Others, such as Takara Box, intend to return with new concepts.

Ms Chan said that since the relaunch, business has dipped significantly. She declined to reveal figures.

A Hey Box machine at Bugis Junction, which was restocked about two weeks ago, was observed by TNP to have a sold-out slot over the weekend.

Ms Chan said: "It's still something like a trial run... If the new business model cannot be sustained, then we might have to come up with something else."