by Renee Israel
UK viewers were shocked this week when they learned that some of their
favourite shows might be taken off the air - as they may constitute illegal
The UK Gambling Commission will begin an investigation into the legality of
such top-rated TV shows such as Deal or No Deal and Red or Black? after concerns
were raised that these games had no elements of skill involved.
The Gambling Commission told the producers of Channel 4's Deal or No Deal
that their £250,000 jackpot games could be considered a breach of UK gambling
laws since no skill was required by players to win the prizes.
The Daily Mail reports that other games are also on the radar, including
Simon Cowell's Red or Black?, which is shown on ITV and presented by Ant and
Attempts to revive Bruce Forsyth's Play your Cards Right may have to take a
back seat for the moment until the outcome of the Gambling Commission's probe
are made public.
According to legal experts, Channel 4 would need to make significant changes
to the show in order to make it 'legal' in the eyes of the law. These may
include moving the show to a post-9pm time slot, as well as restricting the
types of advertising shown during breaks. If Channel 4 feels that these changes
are too consuming - both time and financial wise - they may scrap the show
Concerns over the Glamourisation of Gambling
The Daily Mail quotes a government source as saying that UK
gambling regulators are afraid of the way these shows 'glamourise' gambling.
"The Gambling Commission does not seem to think that there is
any skill element in the show [Deal or No Deal]," said the source. "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
Show bosses are stunned by the intention of the Gambling
Commission to probe their shows, and the belief that Deal or No Deal is
'illegal gambling'. They believe that the rules that were created to
control illegal betting and casino establishments should not be applied to
"This is an absolutely ridiculous state of affairs," one senior
broadcasting source was quoted as saying. "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?"