Television shows like Deal or No Deal could face changes to their format as the UK Gambling Commission scrutinises games shows with cash prizes. A game that does not have an element of skill and is played for profit requires a licence from the Gambling Commission.
The Daily Mail quoted a government source as saying: “The Gambling Commission does not seem to think that there is any skill element to the show. Even though at the beginning of the show, contestants do not have to stake any of their own money, the argument is that once they’ve picked a box, which could contain a lot of cash, in subsequent rounds they are in effect gambling with their own money”.
The article quotes a “senior broadcasting source”: “This is an absolutely ridiculous state of affairs. The Gambling Commission has no right to be poking its nose into what are harmless television programmes. How can anyone regard Deal Or No Deal as gambling? It is probably the most innocent show on television. I think it’s very telling that this programme is aired in 30 different countries but only in Britain has this become an issue. You also have to look it from the point of broadcaster. They are already heavily regulated by Ofcom.
“That means they would be answerable to two different regulators who would be looking into its affairs. The people who make Deal Or No Deal want to operate as a television production company not a casino.”
Simon Cowell’s show Red or Black?, reportedly the most expensive game show ever produced, is also said to be under investigation. The Commission wants a greater element of skill in the winning of the top prize if it is to continue broadcasting without a gambling licence. There are also concerns about the show glamorising gambling.
The case study of Deal Or No Deal is an example of how a successful television game can be exploited across different formats.
Deal Or No Deal started as a daytime television show in 2005 and in GBGC’s opinion is effectively a game of chance. The Deal Or No Deal brand and game format has been adapted to the following games on the Internet and gaming machines:
The original Deal Or No Deal TV had several elements that lent itself to gambling derivatives:
- An element of gambling in the original game
- The opportunity to win money in the original game
- A community aspect to the game – genuine or otherwise – which translates well to the community feature that is central to online Bingo
- Deal Or No Deal Bingo allows other players in the game to vote as to whether or not the “House” winner should accept the Banker’s offer
- The demographic of the viewers of the television show translated well to the demographic of online Bingo players and the ‘softer’ gambling products – tend to be female and older compared to online poker players, for example