February 27, 2008
COLUMBUS, Georgia (WTVM) -- Columbus attorney Jerry Buchanan is suing NBC, over what he calls illegal gambling on the hit show Deal or No Deal.
Under Georgia law, Buchanan says residents who sent text messages to enter a drawing on the show, should get their money back.
On the NBC show Deal or No Deal, contestants on the show take chances to win large amounts of money.
One segment, called The Lucky Case Game, allows viewers at home to send text messages, at ninety-nine cents a text, for an opportunity to win big. "You text in which of 6 cases, on a screen, you believe has the lucky case, which has a prize of 10, 20, or 100 thousand dollars," said Buchanan.
If the viewer guesses right, then his or her name is entered into another lottery.
But Columbus attorney Jerry Buchanan says an old Georgia law makes lotteries and any other gambling illegal.
"One of the provisions dating back to 1764 is that if you engage in a gambling game, you can sue the winner to get your money back," he said.
Buchanan, who is representing the Hardin family, says state lotteries are legal under the Georgia Constitution. "That lottery operates because it benefits the school children of Georgia. The NBC lottery doesn't benefit anyone but NBC."
Before the case can become a class action lawsuit, and move forward, a federal judge has asked the Georgia Supreme Court to answer two questions.
"Can a loser in a lottery game get his money back? And can you get the money back from a sponsor of the lottery game like NBC?" asked Buchanan.
We tried to get in touch with NBC's lawyers in Atlanta, but weren't able to talk to anyone.
Since this lawsuit was filed and another one in California, NBC has pulled The Lucky Case segment from the show.
Right now, Buchanan is only representing two clients, Michael and Michele Hardin.