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Deal or No Deal causes concern for UK Gambling Commission

  • 18 Mar 12
  • Written by Deena Chance

altChannel 4’s hit game show Deal or No Deal, which has become a brand in its own right, has led the UK Gambling Commission to meet with C4’s bosses to question its legality. The problem lies in the fact that although many players may claim to have a ‘game plan’ or ‘theory’, there is no skill involved in the cash prizes that are won and it is a game of complete chance. Deal or No Deal has become a hugely successful television programme which has spawned further online gaming elements including Deal or No Deal Bingo (which you’ll find at Jackpotjoy among other places) and Deal or No Deal instant games which are prevalent across many online bingo and casino sites.

The Gambling Commission has arranged to meet senior Channel 4 executives over the next few days to discuss their concerns regarding Deal or No Deal and their belief that it may constitute gambling. Next month, the Commission are planning to publish new advice and guidance on the implications of the Gambling Act for television broadcasters and producers and the belief is that the Channel 4 game show, fronted by Noel Edmonds, has been highlighted as a particular concern.

Deal or No Deal has caused concerns because its format does not involve any level of skill at all. The 22 boxes which contain amounts of cash from 1p to £250,000 can be one purely by guessing and it is 100% down to chance. This is probably why the game lends itself so easily to online replicas in the form of online bingo and instant games. According to official guidelines, all non-skill games which are played for profit require a gambling license to continue.

Talking on the subject, former creative officer of Deal of No Deal production company Endemol, Sir Peter Bazalgette says the TV industry in general could be seriously affected if the Channel 4 game show is classed as gambling. Talking to The Guardian, he goes on to assert that the show is broadcast in over 50 countries, including some where gambling is illegal yet the show is still allowed on television.

If the Commission finds that Deal or No Deal should be reclassified as a gambling programme, there is no suggestion that it will lose its tea time TV slot as Channel 4 horse racing amongst other things are broadcast during day time hours but it would be something for Channel 4 to consider.

The success of Deal or No Deal has been unprecedented since its first episode in 2005 and no doubt Channel 4 will do all in their power to keep it.


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