Vegas gambling on TV spots

LAS VEGAS — Prompted by favorable federal court rulings, Las Vegas is launching a $27.3 million marketing campaign featuring the first TV commercials depicting casino gambling for non-Nevada audiences.

Whether broadcasters in the key Western feeder markets for Las Vegas will air the ads is uncertain.

The campaign, set to begin July 14 in Southern California, will consist of 10- and 30-second spots that include gamblers rolling dice, pulling slot handles and playing blackjack.

Spokesmen for KABC, KNBC and KCBS in Los Angeles said the spots would require approval from network legal departments. But a CBS lawyer in New York said that, while the network itself wouldn’t air gambling ads, station managers could opt to do so. The NBC and ABC nets had no comment.

For years, the Federal Communications Commission banned gambling-specific TV advertising, allowing most casinos to show only non-gaming elements such as restaurants, entertainment and attractions. Indian-owned casinos are exempt from the restriction if the tribe has a federally approved gaming compact with the state.

But in 1993, a federal judge in Nevada ruled such ads could run in states where casino gambling is legal. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that ruling.

A spokesman for R&R-PBN, the Las Vegas ad agency producing the spots for the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, said broadcasters haven’t seen the commercials yet.

“We featured a gambling token in the spots we produced a year ago, and had nothing but trouble from the network affiliates,” Rob Dondero said.

“The cable systems were much more liberal.”

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