Iran Bans Game Show for Lottery Style Gaming

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019 | Written by April Bergman
Iran Bans Game Show for Lottery Style Gaming

Iran state TV banned the nation’s version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire after complaints by Iranian conservatives and senior clerics. The ban came after complaints were made by senior clerics and conservatives that the show acted like lottery-style gambling.

Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi, a senior Shia cleric, made the ruling in a fatwa, which applies to other game shows with prizes. The fatwa, an Islamic religious ruling, pertains to shows that offer any cash prize as a reward for viewers and participants. Any game show with prizes fall under the ruling.

Makarem-Shirazi claims these types of shows are a form of “gambling” and “games of chance” both of which are banned and forbidden under Islamic law. The Koran forbids Muslims from taking part in any form of gambling. Instead, Allah predetermines destiny, so nothing in the world is subject to chance.

The Koran states that games of chance tempt men into believing in luck, which in turn draws them away from God. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed game shows endangers the “culture of hard work and productivity”.

Barande Bash (Be a Winner)

The show, Barande Bash (Be a Winner), gives contestants the opportunity to win up to 1bn rials (roughly $25,000) and is hosted by actor and model Mohammad Reza Golzar. There is also opportunity for viewers of the show to win money by participating at home via the games app.

Responding to offended viewers, pundits said state-broadcaster Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) was “running a halal casino” by airing these lottery-style game shows for Iranian viewers. The IRIB announced an investigation into similar style TV shows.

The network plans to take Be a Winner off the air for a least a week, but it stays off tv until further notice. State television executives say they plan changes of the show’s sponsorship. The show’s producers downplayed the ban by stating, “The assumptions presented in the question for the fatwa was wrong.”

The producer released no further comments on the ban.

Five Stars Game Show

Broadcasters pulled Five Stars, a similar Millionaire-style show, off the air this week, though viewers say that there has been no further explanation provided.

Government officials are not the only ones upset about “Be a Winner”. Conservative outlets also voiced their strong opinions, saying they believe there should be severe consequences for the decision to air the show. Some suggested that the head of the Channel in which the show airs should be fired.

Millionaire style shows are not the only ones Iranian television experimented with. A number of programs from the United States and Europe became Iranian conversions. Examples include America’s Got Talent and Britain’s Got Talent, which is termed “New Age” by producers.

List of Iranian Bans

Iranian television also banned Italian football badges and nature programs that show the butt end of buffalos. State tv banned videos which show women eating cucumbers, because it is too suggestive.

If a television program shows women wearing headscarves, the clothing cannot be too form fitting. For instance, if viewers can make out the form of the woman’s ear under the scarf, censors ban the image.

Also, the Iranian capital of Tehran also banned dog walking in public places. Dog walking creates “fear and anxiety”, officials say. Tehran Police Chief Hossein Rahimi (who is also a brigadier general) said of the ban: “It is forbidden to drive dogs around in cars and, if this is observed, serious police action will be taken against the car-owners in question.”

Encouraging Good Wits, Memory, and Study

Of course, a game show like Who Wants To Be A Millionaire rewards contestants for knowledge, study, and cleverness. While a degree of chance rules whether a person receives a question they know the answer to, studiousness increases one’s odds of answering the questions.

Trivia shows in fact teach citizens the value of intelligence and research skills.