Broadcasters will be forced to apply for licences to run TV quizzes and donate part of their revenues to charity following new Gambling Commission guidelines.
Existing laws mean that games which charge a fee for entry and do not depend on a level of skill or knowledge are a lottery.
Broadcasters have been using a legal grey area by having an alternative free route of entry into competitions on their website, allowing them to classify their games as ‘prize competitions’.
A lottery requires a licence, and 20 per cent of revenues must go to charity.
The Gambling Commission said: ‘Following consultation the commission remains concerned that entry to TV quizzes through an alternative web-based free entry route may not be considered to be as convenient as via the paid route, and may not meet the statutory test to qualify as a free draw.’
The commission’s guidelines on the distinction between prize competitions or free draws and lotteries come into force on September 1.
The commission’s deputy chief executive Tom Kavanagh said: ‘Over the past 10 months, the commission has consulted extensively on the provisions on free draws and prize competitions in the new Act.
‘Prize competitions and free draws remain free of statutory control, but operators who cross the boundary and operate a lottery will be required to apply for an operating licence from the commission or cease to operate.
‘Operators can use this guidance to help ensure they stay within the law. The commission will have powers to take action against breaches of the Gambling Act when it comes into full effect on 1 September.’
The TV quiz industry has recently been battered by investigations.
Channel 4’s Richard and Judy and the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen were among those drawn into the row.
This week broadcaster Five was fined a record £300,000 by media watchdog Ofcom for faking winners on its Brainteaser quiz show.
ITV has scrapped its TV quiz channel ITV Play, but it is still aired overnight on ITV1 and ITV2.
Ofcom recently issued new rules on TV quizzes after discovering that the methodologies used to calculate the correct answers to some quizzes were unclear.
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