Georgia Supreme Court rules again Hardins

Georgia’s highest court on Monday threw out a lawsuit contending that NBC’s “Deal or No Deal” violated state anti-gambling laws when it invited viewers to take part in a game via text message.

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled unanimously against Michael and Michele Hardin, who wanted NBC to repay them and other state residents for the cost of sending 99-cent text messages in hopes of winning a prize on the hit show’s “Lucky Case Game.”

The game challenged at-home viewers to guess which of six on-screen gold briefcases was the lucky case.

The couple’s lawyer, Jerry Buchanan, called the game an illegal gambling operation and said state law allowed residents to retrieve money because “gambling contracts are void.”

NBC attorneys, however, said the game was a promotional tool and not a lottery.

In is ruling Monday, the court said the text messages cannot be classified as a bet or a wager, and the state law “offers no avenue of recovery to plaintiffs.”

The suit did not indicate how much the Hardins or other Georgians might have spent on the game. Calls to Buchanan and Joe Loveland, an attorney representing NBC, were not immediately returned.

The NBC show, hosted by Howie Mandel assisted by a flock of sexy models, gives the studio contestants a shot at up to $1 million, with dollar amounts hidden in 26 sealed briefcases.

NBC halted the at-home segment of the game — which typically offered a top prize of $10,000 — since the lawsuit, which was also the target of at least one court challenge in California. It is described on the show’s Web site as “taking a short break.”

NBC is majority owned by General Electric Co.

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