Text Messaging to Win a Prize Could be Illegal Gambling

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A popular television game show, ‘Deal or No Deal’, is accused of providing ‘gambling’ via telephone.

Two Georgia game show fans have file a federal lawsuit against the popular game show and NBC for an undisclosed amount of money. The lawsuit charges that during the broadcast of each show, viewers at home are encouraged to text a message to the show, at a charge of 99 cents for each text message for a chance to win $10,000.

The two fans, one a Georgia hairdresser, one a secretary allege that these shows like Deal or No Deal and their contests equate to gambling. A judge in Georgia dismissed the suit locally which encouraged the two to file with suit the federal government.

Advertisers often use text messaging for promotions, shows like The Apprentice and One vs. 100 have been taking in large sums of money by having viewers text messages . The ‘take’ is usually shared by the promoters and the cell phone companies.

Clearly this is gambling, a user pays a set fee for the chance to win something of value. There are many companies that utilize similar promotions to increase sales and product recognition, however most companies do in fact give something of value to each contestant. An example of this is beverage companies that have bottle-cap promotions, where a consumer must purchase a soft drink, then look under the cap to see if there is a prize. In this instance the consumer is not gambling because they are receiving something of value (the soft drink), similar contests are offered by just about every major player in the can and bottle industry, either under the cap or behind the label, or inside the candy bar wrapping. These are contests that do not cost more for an entry than the end user will normally pay for the product and most offer by mail, free entry without the purchase of a product.

Those shows or contest that charge a fee for a chance to win are operating a gambling game that one can equate to any lottery or slot machine. No skill is involved, just luck