In June 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the advertising restriction on the commercial casino industry in its decision in the case Greater New Orleans Broadcast Association v. United States. Until then, the Communications Act of 1934 had prohibited all television ads that showed gambling activity by commercial casinos.
Before the ruling, commercial casinos had been allowed to promote only their nongaming resort features. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court had affirmed the decision of a Nevada District Court overturning that portion of the federal law in 1997. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, however, had upheld the ban. The Supreme Court’s decision overturned the ban nationwide, and cleared up any inconsistency between the two lower court decisions.
Exceptions to the Communications Act of 1934 had been made over the years, allowing lotteries, horse and dog racing and Indian casinos to advertise freely. Only commercial casinos were still banned from showing gambling activity. As a result, the high court found in favor of the Greater New Orleans Broadcast Association.
The issue of casino advertising was one followed not only by the gaming industry itself, but also by the advertising industry and the media. Both groups wanted the ban lifted, saying it violated First Amendment rights.
The American Gaming Association also voiced its opinion on the issue, filing an amicus brief with the Supreme Court to address some of the social cost arguments made by the U.S. Justice Department in support of the ban.
Additionally, the AGA Code of Conduct for Responsible Gaming includes a pledge that AGA members will advertise responsibly. This includes television and radio ads broadcast off the premises, direct mail, billboard and Internet promotions.
The Code of Conduct outlines responsible advertising practices like the inclusion of responsible gaming messages and toll-free help-line numbers and the prohibition of practices like
- Using claims that gaming activity will guarantee a person’s social, financial or personal success
- The use of symbols, figures or celebrities/characters designed to appeal to children or minors
- Featuring current collegiate athletes or anyone who is or appears to be below the legal age to gamble
- Placing advertising in media or at venues targeted to or with an audience of primarily minors
Read more information on what the AGA Code of Conduct for Responsible Gaming says about responsible advertising