Court rules against 'Deal or No Deal' challenge

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ATLANTA (AP) -- The Georgia Supreme Court said no deal today to a Georgia couple who wanted NBC to repay them for the cost of sending 99-cent text messages on the game show "Deal or No Deal."

Michael and Michele Hardin sued NBC hoping to recover the text message charges they ran up playing the show's "Lucky Case Game." The game challenged viewers to guess which of six on-screen gold briefcases was the lucky case through text messages.

The couple claimed the game was an illegal gambling operation and said state law allowed residents to retrieve money from a winner because -- quote -- "gambling contracts are void."

NBC attorneys, however, said it was a promotional tool and NOT a lottery.

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the text messages should NOT be classified as a bet or a wager. As a result, it said residents were unable to prove there was a "gambling contract" that was needed first to claim the money.

The NBC show -- hosted by Howie Mandel -- calls for a contestant to predict the amount of cash contained in any of 26 sealed briefcases. The top prize for guessing correctly is $1 million dollars.

It is unclear what the ruling will mean for the "Lucky Case Game." The game is also the target of at least one court challenge in California and NBC has halted it since the lawsuits.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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