Are game shows legal by nature or is there a catch that allows them to be legal? Are they considered a sweepstakes? How is one able to give away prizes without it being "gambling?" Do the game show contestants have to agree to some sort of contract to be involved? Is it a state by state issue?

  • Is this why game
    – CRAIG
    Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 11:13

1 Answer 1


Game shows are not gambling because the participants do not wager their own money. They risk the show's money only. (Also as @aroth points out in the comments, the vast majority of game shows can also use the "game of skill" defense.)

Yes. Game shows use contracts for contestants. See the following examples.

  • Also many game shows involve an element of skill, which may be another basis for a legal distinction between "game show" and "gambling".
    – aroth
    Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 13:26
  • What about tickets? I think most game shows give away their tickets. What if they charged for the tickets? Would that be illegal?
    – CRAIG
    Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 16:16
  • @CRAIG: They can charge for tickets to attend the taping but they cannot be a means of requiring entry. Example: You cannot demand that someone buy a ticket to have a chance to enter or participate the game show. This would constitute a wager or raffle which would inherently no longer make it a game of skill. Some exceptions may be a game show held a convention which requires its own tickets. In all cases, there must be a method of free entry. Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 15:18
  • It does seem that some game shows have as at least part of their premise that those in the audience can become contestants (Let's Make a Deal, The Price is Right). Does this mean attending must be free, or can they charge to be in the audience, and draw some number of audience members to participate? Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 5:30

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