Top UK quiz shows face threat of being axed

Some of Britain's most popular TV game shows could be cancelled after the launch of an investigation into whether they constitute gambling.

Channel 4's Deal or No Deal and ITV's Red or Black could be breaking the law by running games that require no skill without holding a gambling licence. The Gambling Commission said yesterday it would publish advice next month for broadcasters and producers on the rules regarding gambling on television.

"The advice will make clearer what activity constitutes gambling," said John Travers, a spokesman for the regulator.

Channel 4 confirmed that it had been contacted by the commission about Deal or No Deal, which regularly draws in four million viewers in its afternoon slot, and said that it would be meeting the regulators "within due course."

In the show, presented by Noel Edmonds, pictured, contestants try to guess which of the 22 sealed boxes has the top prize of £250,000. In ITV's Red or Black, produced by Simon Cowell's company Syco and fronted by Ant and Dec, people spin a roulette wheel to win £1m.

The Gambling Commission said its advice would centre on the Gambling Act 2005.

The 2005 Gambling Act defines betting as "the making or accepting of a bet on the outcome of a race, competition or other event or process; the likelihood of anything occurring or not occurring; or whether anything is or is not true."