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TV Show Betting: Is it legal in the US?

In the early 2000s, a new era was founded in the United States: the age of reality competition television. At the turn of the millennia, two groundbreaking shows hit TV screens across the nation and immediately put American audiences in a stranglehold, in a good way: Big Brother and Survivor.

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As reality competition series continued to dominate the television industry in America, a new market sprouted up in the nation and took over its space just as quickly: online sports betting

Ever since the Supreme Court decided to repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, leaving it up to individual states to decide the legality of sports betting within their own jurisdictions, gambling, both online and in person, has been an exponentially growing market in every state where it’s been legalized. 

Is betting on reality TV shows legal in the United States?

Betting on reality TV shows is illegal in the United States

When asked about carrying wagers on The Bachelor, the Director of Publicity for FanDuel sportsbook replied: 

It is not allowed via the rules and regulations set up by the gaming regulators in each state.” 

That hasn’t stopped the American public from clamoring for entertainment betting to join the legal gambling market in the country, though. 

Shows that the US would like to bet on

These are among some of the most popular competition series in the US, and, as such, have strong bases for bringing betting to their favorite shows:

The Bachelorette

The Bachelorette, a series that sees multiple men competing to win the heart and favor of a singular woman who is seen as the prize for this competition, has been one of the most dominant shows in American media since its inception in 2003. 

With 2.83 million average viewers per episode in 2022, it’s no surprise that there is some overlap between fans of The Bachelorette and those that wish to bet on it.

Big Brother

Big Brother is another show that has its vice grip on American audiences.

The structure of the competition, a last-man-standing, week-to-week elimination game that sees participants compete in various challenges for power, while also trying to gain favor among the other contestants would be a perfect model to bring much-needed drama to people’s wagers and favorites. 

American Idol

Talent competitions would also be a huge hit for betting. American Idol, a bracketed tournament between amateur singers selected from across the country through a grueling audition process, births fan favorites, underdogs, and runaway heavy hitters every single season.

The show that unearthed talents such as Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and Hunter Hayes would be a huge market for wagers.

The X Factor

The X Factor is another hugely popular singing competition, modeled in the same vein as American Idol. Produced by former American Idol judge Simon Cowell, the X Factor is a bit more reliant on the judges than American Idol. 

In the same way that boxing outcomes can be swayed by the decisions of officials, betting on the X Factor could require a deep understanding of the psyche of Cowell and the other judges. 

America’s Got Talent

America’s Got Talent follows the X Factor’s structure, but releasing two years after its source of inspiration. America’s Got Talent would throw a different spin into the mix, as bettors could theoretically factor in the different types of acts into their favorites and odds. 

While singers have dominated the competition, there have been some underdog acts to have gone all the way such as ventriloquists and magicians. 


And, of course, there’s Survivor, perhaps the most successful reality competition series in America to date. Similar to Big Brother, Survivor brings drama through their various competitions and within the dynamics between competitors. 

Wagers on such an event would factor in physical prowess, social relationships, and overall gameplay, as the final decision is based on an election from eliminated competitors. 

Odds for reality TV shows

While betting on reality competitions is still illegal in the United States, many sites will release hypothetical odds, as a fun exercise and glimpse into the act of trying to predict the outcome of one of these series. 

For example, ahead of Survivor 44’s finale earlier this year, odds were given out for the potential winners. Yamil “Yam Yam” Arocho was the overwhelming favorite with 19/25 odds and teacher Lauren Harpe was the biggest underdog with just 100/1 odds to emerge victorious. 

Those that would have bet on the favorite would have come away a bit richer, as Yam Yam was named the official winner of Survivor 44. 

Since betting on shows such as Big Brother isn’t legal in the United States, betting guides don’t really exist, but there is similar content out there. 

For example, once Big Brother 24 came down to its final five contestants, fans went to work to try to predict the winner. 

One outlet gave Turner the best “odds” to come out on top, with a 35 percent chance of becoming the winner of Big Brother 24

They had Alyssa with the worst chance to win, with just a 5 percent shot at the title. In the end, their runner-up, Taylor, ended up getting crowned the champ.

For more betting coverage, make sure to stay with IL Betting.