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Kevin Smith

PartyPoker Spots Pulled From Vegas Stations

8 August 2005

While some online gambling operators have resorted to promoting their free-play (typically .net) sites to skirt advertising restrictions in the U.S., Nevada-based radio stations pulled spots last week that had been running for the world's largest online poker room.

The ads, for, were running in conjunction with traffic reports on a host of stations in Las Vegas.

The traffic reports are provided to the stations by Metro Networks, a subsidiary of Westwood One, a New York-based company that provides a wide variety of news, sports and entertainment content for radio stations across the country.

Typically, Metro provides traffic reports and pays the local talent to do them. The spots will include built in advertisements in which Metro can recoup its costs for providing the reports.

Some stations, KNPR – the Las Vegas National Public Radio affiliate -- included, run the reports for free in exchange for mentioning the sponsors. It was one of those mentions that landed Metro in hot water.

Nearly two years ago, officials with the Department of Justice issued letters to the National Broadcasters Association informing the group that its members could be aiding and abetting criminals by airing commercials for any online gambling site.

Online sports books were the main targets of the investigation at the time, but online casinos and poker rooms were also mentioned. To circumvent the threat from federal authorities operators began to advertise their free-play sites last year in hopes of converting the visitors to the real-money sites even though they can't include any links to the real-money site on the free-play site.

A spokesperson for KNPR told IGN that the content of the spots built into the traffic reports is cleared through Westwood One offices.

Westwood One General Counsel David Hillman told the Associated Press last week that he was unaware of any problems in advertising online gambling sites.

"We might be in 75 cities around the country and 50 radio stations in each city," Hillman said. "Not every ad reaches the legal department's desk, though any controversial decision should come to me. We would not run ads for illegal products. Our company takes these things seriously. Just because you write a check doesn't mean we take the money."

Jack Chappell, the Community Relations Manager for KNPR, told IGN the spots were pulled after representatives from Metro's Las Vegas office met with KNPR executives.

Last week, KNPR General Manager Lamar Marchese said the ads were pulled immediately after the meeting.

"They yanked the credits off the table at our questioning," hw said. "It was just one of those areas that was murky as to whether it was legal or not. They decided to err on the side of conservatism."

Chappell said KNPR, like nearly all NPR stations, is a private nonprofit entity and is "responsible when things go on our air. It's our liability."

Marchese said the station relies on Metro though to "be the watchdog and the gatekeeper. I don't want to jeopardize our license and credibility."

Officials with Westwood One and didn't return calls and e-mail requests from IGN seeking comment about the ads on KNPR.

The spots through Metro's Las Vegas operation weren't the first time an online gambling company ventured into the land-based gambling capital of the world in Las Vegas., the subsidiary of publicly traded Sportingbet plc, recently paid for a billboard near the Las Vegas Convention Center with the slogan, "What happens in Vegas, happens at" was the title sponsor last month of the World Series of Poker Robots, which was held in conjunction with the World Series of Poker. The "bot" final took place at Binion's casino in downtown Las Vegas.

The online casino has also recently begun to pay women to walk up and down the Strip wearing vests that contain miniature television screens and play videos promoting the Internet casino.

PartyPoker Spots Pulled From Vegas Stations is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith