State lottery ads targeted by federal study

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A federal commission nearing completion of a report on gambling's impact tentatively has approved recommendations that could put pressure on state lottery advertising.

A series of recommendations acted on last week at a San Francisco meeting of the National Gambling Impact Study Commission asks governmental gambling agencies to take steps to limit certain kinds of advertising.

It also asks the U.S. government to start keeping statistics on who buys lottery tickets.

The report includes other potentially controversial recommendations, including a ban on betting on all college and amateur athletic events.


The ad recommendations in the final draft report are that:

-- States should "ban aggressive advertising strategies, especially those that target people in impoverished neighborhoods."

-- States, Indian tribes and groups representing gambling associations should adopt "enforceable" ad guidelines that include policies against "implicit appeals to vulnerable populations, including youth and low-income neighborhoods."

-- States should move to reduce their dependence on low-income, less educated minorities and heavy players, in part by limiting ads and sales in low-income areas.

-- States should create boards to oversee their lotteries that could make policy decisions on marketing strategies.

-- States should limit lottery sales outlets in poor neighborhoods.


The recommendations will be incorporated into a report expected to be released June 18 and then sent to Congress.

The commission also added a recommendation that Congress designate a federal agency to gather information on the volume of purchases; demographic data on players; patterns of plays by various demographic groups; and on the nature, accuracy and type of advertising used.

Last week, ad industry groups praised the panel for not suggesting limits on advertising by private casinos. But they questioned the recommendations both for advertising limits and that state lottery ads be open to examination by the Federal Trade Commission.

"We feel that it is not necessary for the federal government to intervene in what is essentially a state issue," said Linda Dove, senior VP of the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

Copyright June 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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