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Emily D. Swoboda

Las Vegas Airline Grounds Bodog Planes

1 May 2006

Las Vegas-based airline Allegiant Air unexpectedly canceled its $500,000 advertising deal with online gambling company Bodog Entertainment last week after learning of the Justice Department's views on advertising Internet gambling.

The agreement was to have six of the airline's jets wrapped with the Bodog logo and URL for a period of three months. The planes were also to feature in-flight announcements highlighting some of the products, inserts in each seat back with detachable poker and blackjack strategy cards and passenger seat trays that look like a blackjack tables.

According to the Las Vegas Sun, Bodog CEO Calvin Ayre seems to be taking the loss well.

"I have no problem with Allegiant changing our agreement when faced with this type of threat," Ayre told the publication. "We 100 percent support them and are saddened that they are not being able to pursue their constitutionally protected rights of free speech in this case."

Allegiant reportedly pulled the plug after Sun reporter Richard Velotta this week questioned the airline's managing director, Ponder Harrison.

"I'm not sure that it was anything specifically that I said that made them panic," Velotta said. "The first time I called them on it, the deal was a go, and I asked to talk to Maury Gallagher, the CEO. A day later when I followed up, the deal was off."

Velotta said that in his first conversation with Allegiant, the PR representative asked to see his questions and he informed her that he would most likely ask about the airline advertising a brand whose primary product was considered illegal in the United States by the DOJ.

"At that point," Velotta said, "I think she decided that it would be better for an executive higher up to talk with me than her--which led to the next conversation. And, that's when they told me the deal was off. I asked later if the inquiry about the Justice Department resulted in the decision and was told it 'affirmed' what they had already decided."

The six planes had already been wrapped in a Mylar film bearing the Bodog brand, and the first plane took to the skies last week. The five remaining planes were supposed to take off this week.

Allegiant could not be reached for comment.

Las Vegas Airline Grounds Bodog Planes is republished from
Emily D. Swoboda
Emily D. Swoboda