Agencies See Creative Hassle In Lottery Laws

WASHINGTON, D.C.-The National Gambling Impact Study Commission’s recommendation for more state laws governing gambling ads has drawn criticism from ad agencies, which say that regulations are already onerous.
The panel’s draft report last week slammed lottery ads that tout instant success or the joy of gambling. The panel said states should ban “aggressive” advertising that targets the poor or children. “Lottery advertising messages often exploit themes that conflict with the state’s role as protector of the public good,” the report said. “Many advertisements emphasize luck over hard work, instant gratification over prudent investment, and entertainment over savings.”
Agencies with lottery business said the commission’s approach would leave them with few options to market lotteries. Already, agencies avoid promising lifestyle changes because many states consider that misleading. What is more, promoting a winning strategy is not always successful since players quickly determine that their odds of hitting the jackpot are remote.
“You are left with a “playing the lottery is fun’ approach, and you end up putting a happy face on everything,” said one source who handles a state lottery account. “It limits the strategies available to agencies, making it more difficult to get players.”
Agencies also claim there is nothing wrong with saying that a legal service is fun. “We approach it as giving people an opportunity to have a break in their day by playing the game,” said Kay Fowler, group management director at Cooper HMS Partners, Coral Gables, Fla., which handles the $17 million Florida lottery account.
A representative for Grey Advertising in New York applauded the report: “These guidelines are common sense and all the state lotteries have been following them for years. It won’t change a thing in terms of what we do do for the New York State Lottery.”
The commission also recommended that the federal government collect information on the content and accuracy of lottery advertising. The final report is expected on June 18.