Legal Hotline: Casino Ads 2018

  • Apr 26, 2018

Melissa Melewsky, Media Law Counsel

Q: Can our newspaper accept Pennsylvania casino ads and if so, are there any advertising requirements we should be aware of?

A: Yes, newspapers can accept ads for casinos in Pennsylvania and there are several regulations that control ad content.

The PA Gaming Control Board has enacted regulations designed to control gaming advertisements. The regulations can be found in Title 58 of the PA Code § 501a.7.

The regulations apply to a Gaming Control Board licensees, certified or registered entities, or their agent. An "advertisement" includes signs, billboards, print, radio and television advertisements, emails and any notice or communication to the public through broadcasting, publication, mailing or other means of dissemination.

Requirements:

Advertisements must contain a gambling assistance message. The following messages have been approved by the Gaming Control Board as gambling assistance messages:

   (1)  If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, help is available. Call (toll free telephone number).

   (2)  Gambling Problem? Please call (toll free telephone number).

   (3)  Gambling Problem? Call (toll free telephone number).

The toll-free number to be listed in the ads is:  1-800-848-1880 or 1-800-GAMBLER.

For print advertisements, the height of the font used for the gambling assistance message in signs, direct mail marketing materials, posters and other print advertisements should be at least the same size as the majority of the text used in the advertisement or if greater, 2% of the height or width, whichever is greater, of the advertisement. 

For online advertisements, including social media sites:

     (i)   The gambling assistance message must be posted on each webpage or profile page and on a gaming related advertisement posted on the webpage or profile page.

     (ii)   The height of the font used for the gambling assistance message must be at least the same size as the majority of the text used in the webpage or profile page.

     (iii)  The height of the font used for the gaming assistance message must follow the same rule applied to print advertisements.

If the complete text of the gambling assistance message and type size has not been previously approved, it must be submitted to the Director of the Office of Compulsive and Problem Gambling (OCPG) for approval.

Prohibitions:

Advertisements may not:

   (1)  Contain false or misleading information.

   (2)  Use a font, type size, location, lighting, illustration, graphic depiction or color obscuring any material fact or the gambling assistance statement.

   (3)  Fail to disclose any material conditions or limiting factors associated with the advertisement.

Further, the regulations prohibit employing or contracting with an individual to persuade or convince a person to engage in gaming or play a specific slot machine at a licensed facility.

Finally, the regulations require advertisers to discontinue a particular advertisement as expeditiously as possible upon receipt of written notice that the OCPG has determined that the advertisement could adversely impact the public or the integrity of gaming.

PNA encourages news media organizations to refer any advertiser with compliance questions to the Office of Compulsive and Problem Gambling in order to get guidance or approval for a casino ad prior to publication. 

This is not intended to be, nor should it be construed as legal advice. Please consult your newspaper’s attorney or the Legal Hotline at (717) 703-3080 with questions.

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