Limits on gambling ads come up loser at high court

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The U.S. Supreme Court today unanimously overturned federal curbs on broadcast gambling ads in a New Orleans case that could make it much more difficult for governments to impose any curbs on advertising.

In the high court's most significant ad case in four years, the justices declined ad groups' request to establish a new higher standard for ad curbs but made clear that the existing standard is very high. Governments must demonstrate ad curbs will achieve a goal and clearly demonstrate they have no lesser enforcement alternatives to achieve the goal.

Ad groups said that the decision imposes a nearly impossible burden on governments and is likely to get bans on billboard ads for alcohol and curbs on liquor and tobacco advertising overturned.

In the case, the Greater New Orleans Broadcasting Association challenged federal laws and Federal Communications Com-mission rules barring private casinos from advertising gaming but letting Native American casinos run similar ads. Gaming officials predicted the decision would have limited impact on casino advertising.

Copyright June 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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