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Gambling ads to saturate homes because of ruling, Duke says

ATLANTA (BP)–America’s homes “will be saturated with gambling advertisements” as a result of a U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down a ban on the broadcast advertising of gambling at private casinos, a Southern Baptist official said.
In an opinion released June 14, the high court overturned a federal appeals court decision by unanimous vote. The ruling was expected for the ban on nonmisleading advertising of casino gambling, primarily because Congress had permitted exceptions to what was once a general prohibition. Among the forms of gambling for which ads have been allowed in recent years are Indian casinos and state-sponsored lotteries.
The result of “this new freedom will be more money for casinos and more problems for everyone else,” said Barrett Duke of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
“It is bad enough that the states have direct access to the living room to promote their lotteries. The Supreme Court has just assured that the gambling message will be ever more pervasive.
“I cringe when I think what it will be like when the casinos can use their massive bank accounts to advertise over the airwaves. No one will be safe from their persistence,” said Duke, whose specialties for the ERLC include the gambling issue.
The court’s ruling was announced the same week a report by a federal commission studying the impact of gambling is to be released after a two-year study. Among the recommendations are a ban on aggressive advertising, especially that targeting youth and low-income areas, of government-approved gambling and a call for Congress to amend truth-in-advertising laws to apply to Indian gambling and state-run lotteries.
In the court’s opinion, Associate Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the government’s interests were justified but the law as amended is “pierced by exemptions and inconsistencies,” The New York Times reported. “Had the federal government adopted a more coherent policy, or accommodated the rights of speakers in states that have legalized the underlying conduct, this might be a different case.”
The law “sacrifices an intolerable amount of truthful speech about lawful conduct,” Stevens wrote, according to The Times.
Associate Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a concurring opinion in which he said advertising bans for products that are legal to sell should not be allowed under the First Amendment, the newspaper reported.
The decision may prove a problem for efforts to restrict the advertising of tobacco and alcohol.
The federal ban on casino advertising applied only to gambling, not to commercials promoting casinos as a destination.
The Supreme Court reviewed a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals opinion upholding the ban as a result of an appeal by the Greater New Orleans Broadcasting Association. The Supreme Court earlier had returned the case to the Fifth Circuit for it to reconsider its decision in light of a 1996 high court decision increasing protection for commercial speech. The Fifth Circuit again ruled in favor of the ban, resulting in the latest appeal to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the Second and Ninth circuit courts had struck down the ban.