Answered by Shaykh Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari
Would it be haram to participate in a game show? Such as, Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy? There is no risk or investment involved. Would the money from these earnings be haram?
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,
As explained in detail in an earlier answer titled “fiqh of gambling” that the definition of unlawful gambling/chancing is “The ownership of wealth with a risk of loss (tamlik al-mal ala al-mukhatara).” (Ahkam al-Qur’an of Imam al-Jassas, 2/11) As such, if money is staked in order to acquire a reward, then it constitutes unlawful gambling.
In view of this, if paying a fee is required in order to participate in a game show, then it will not be permitted due to it being considered gambling. The earnings made from such participation is filthy and Haram.
However, if entry into a game show is free and no fee is demanded, it would not constitute gambling, hence permitted. The reason for this is that one is not placing any wealth at stake in order to obtain a prize or reward.
At times no fee is charged for participation, but the charge for the phone call is greatly increased in order to facilitate the acquisition of the reward. If one is being charged for the phone call with an amount that is more than the customary charge, then this also falls under the rubric of gambling, hence unlawful.
Many game shows and phone-in competitions charge extortionate premium rates from their contestants over and above the rate of a normal phone call. This is not restricted to phone calls. Users can access premium charge services by texting from their mobile phones or pushing the red button on their TV remote, or via the internet.
A large sum of this money is then used in facilitating the acquisition of the reward. As such, the extra amount paid is actually placing one’s wealth at stake in order to acquire the reward. If one fails to win, this extortionate amount of money used in contacting the game show organizers is totally lost.
Therefore, the above is also a form of gambling, and hence must be avoided by Muslims. It seems, on the face of it, that there is no risk or investment involved, but in reality risk is involved in the form of premium rates being charged. For more details on this, please refer to the detailed answer on the “fiqh of gambling”.
And Allah knows best
Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari