NFL’s anti gambling ad stance criticized
By Paul
The US National Football League (NFL) is known for its vociferous anti-gambling stance, but could find itself subject to legal action because of this.

Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association both try to ban ads for casinos that have sports books and all gambling related ads, but legal experts say the NFL may be alone in violating Federal Communications Commission regulations.

The NFL prohibits networks and affiliate stations from advertising casinos, sports betting and Las Vegas.

But according to Las Vegas media attorney Dominique Gentile, those contracts violate FCC rules.

'The NFL is free to set policy and require (certain behavior) of networks. The networks are not equally free to enter into contracts (banning classes of advertisers). The FCC should be able to sanction networks for doing that,' Gentile said.

When networks ban classes of advertisers, such as casinos, engaged in lawful businesses and running truthful ads, this constitutes a violation of FCC regulations, Gentile said.

'It is unlawful to discriminating against an advertiser simply because it is involved in lawful gaming,' he said.

The NFL can adopt any lawful policy, but the FCC is charged with enforcing the right of access, and its policies 'trump network policy,' Gentile said.

Gentile said the NFL policy is of particular concern to the casino industry, due to its huge economic influence.

Other sports leagues aren't as restrictive in their advertising policies as the NFL.

The National Basketball Association prohibits advertising from casinos that allow sports betting, spokesman Tim Andree said.

'We don't permit our broadcast partners to run ads during any games from establishments that allow sports betting,' he said.

Major League Baseball's restrictions are more in line with the NBA's, league spokesman Rich Levin said. The League bans advertisements from institutions that have sports books.

The National Hockey League does prohibit club owners from owning casinos that have sports books, but 'otherwise, there is no discouragement of ads from casinos,' spokesman Frank Brown said.

Ray Brown, president of Shonkwiler Marcoux Advertising, said the NFL ban creates particular problems for Las Vegas and casinos.

'(The other sports leagues) do not have the same impact you have from football. Interest is high in football because the number of games is much more manageable…” Brown said the NFL policy is hypocritical, when the networks 'have no problem selling view package rights to play games in the casinos. They charge fees for public viewing, but ban being able to advertise to those (same) market groups.'

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