Casino blurb ban blasted

WASHINGTON – Broadcast and advertising trade groups have joined an effort in New Orleans to strike down the FCC rule that bars advertising for casinos on television and radio.

The National Assn. of Broadcasters, the American Assn. of Advertising Agencies and the Assn. of National Advertisers filed their brief in a federal court in New Orleans last Friday. The groups argue that the rule banning ads is a violation of their First Amendment right to free speech.

The federal court in New Orleans has upheld the Federal Communications Commission rule once; however, the Supreme Court ordered it to take a second look, in light of recent High Court decisions. Among those was a case known as 44 Liquormart, in which the Supreme Court upheld a Rhode Island liquor store’s right to advertise prices in print ads.

The broadcast and ad trade groups argue that the 44 Liquormart case makes it much harder for the government to justify any restriction on commercial speech and urged the court to reverse its decision. The groups wrote that “rejection of the commercial speech analysis in the (court’s) former opinion is mandated by the decision in 44 Liquormart.”

The groups argued that the government did not prove that a ban on casino advertising would have the desired effect of reducing the number of people who gamble. They also argue that the government could find a less restrictive means of achieving its goal of curbing U.S. gambling.

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