When it comes to gambling TV shows here are some real winners.


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Take a look at TV in 2022 and one thing’s for certain – there has never been quite as much choice. For example, there are shows on cable and satellite channels, traditional broadcast ones, as well as the huge amount of content available on streaming services like Amazon Prime and Disney+.

In many ways, this is great for viewers because they have so many entertainment options. In other ways, it’s not so good because there’s only so much time they can devote in their day to watching TV.

This has set up a huge sense of competition among program makers, all wanting to capture the audience. It has also meant that viewers are on the constant lookout for shows that will be good enough to devote their precious leisure time to watching.

Of all the genres of shows currently on offer, there seems to be one crying out for a new concept – and that’s shows that centre around gambling.

With the economy looking stronger than many people have anticipated it could be that the mood of the American public is in the right place to see shows based on money being won and lost.

It’s not as if there haven’t been plenty of shows in the past with gambling at their core. What’s more, they have crossed many genres from actual gambling to dramas to game shows. All have had one central element and that is people taking risks in some form or another.

Real gambling shows

The purest form of these has been in the shows featuring actual gambling with one of the most prominent being Poker After Dark.

First launched in 2007, this has proved to be compelling viewing for the armchair poker fan. The set-up is simple. Six seasoned poker pros compete in a game of Texas Hold’em for a prize pot of $120,000. Any TV producers looking for an alternative today could do worse than try a blackjack version of the show. After all, you only have to look at the huge popularity of the typical online live blackjack game to see that there’s a ready-made audience out there.

The world’s most popular card game also features in High Stakes Poker which has been on air since 2006. In this, an extra level of jeopardy is introduced as the poker pros are actually playing with their own money – and losing it too!

The fascination with how people have gone to great lengths to beat the casino was the subject of the 2004 series Breaking Vegas. Inspired by the story of the MIT team who used card-counting in blackjack to win big, a story also told in the 2008 movie 21. Over 14 episodes, Breaking Vegas covered all the other favorite casino games too including roulette, craps and the ever-popular slots.


Naturally, the high-octane world of gamblers and gambling has also given rise to some very notable dramas in the past too.

Free Men on Horses Stock Photo

The world of horse racing brought us a star-studded HBO series called Luck. Centred around the not-always above-board goings-on at the fictional Santa Anita racetrack, it starred none other than Dustin Hoffman. He played an ex-con determined to avenge associates who had squealed on him, and he soon became involved in various plots to bring them down. Although it only ran for one season, it achieved a great critical response.

HBO also brought us Boardwalk Empire. Set in the Prohibition Era Atlantic City, it starred Steve Buscemi as Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, the corrupt treasurer of Atlantic County at a time when many of the casinos were being established there. The first episode was directed by Martin Scorsese and reportedly had a budget of $18 million. It eventually ran out of steam after five seasons and 56 exciting episodes. The show was so iconic there were rumours that there would be an online Boardwalk Empire video game.

The 1960s was an equally iconic period for gambling in the US and that’s when the 2012 drama series Vegas was set. This took a different approach with the hero of the series being Sheriff Ralph Lamb, played by Dennis Quaid. It was his mission to limit the criminal activities of a Chicago mobster Vincent Savino played by Michael Chiklis. It smacked of real authenticity thanks to its co-creator Nicholas Pileggi – movie fans will know that he is the writer who was also the inspiration for both Scorsese’s Goodfellas and Casino.

Free Close-up Shot Of A Roulette Stock Photo

Game shows

There’s always been some debate about whether game shows are gambling or not, but they certainly have gambling elements. The players may not have to put up any stake money, but they do gamble on the outcomes of their decisions.

Deal or No Deal is one of the most popular TV game shows, it’s resulted in a hit online live Deal or No deal game. Contestants have to guess, by a process of elimination, how much a prize will be in the box they choose to open. It’s not just been a hit in the US, but all over the world too. Proof, if it’s needed, of its universal appeal.

Then there are the other big favorites Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. Again, not strictly gambling but definitely with elements of it in determining the prizes that can be won. Similar to Deal or No Deal, Wheel of Fortune has been adapted into an online live Wheel of Fortune game, giving players the chance to try for themselves.

So surely this is all enough evidence for the TV execs out there to focus on gambling as a genre that’s certain to succeed. It could be a game show or a drama. Or even an examination of the new generation of online casino players.

But, whatever they choose, it’s got “ratings hit” written all over it.



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