Skip to main content

NFL Announces Relaxed Casino Ad Rules Just as Atlantic City Rolls Out Tourism Ad Campaign Downplaying Casinos

The same week the Atlantic City Alliance announced details
of its new $20 million multiplatform tourism marketing campaign, the NFL
announced that it is allowing its teams to accept ads for casinos and other
state-licensed gambling-related operations for the first time. But ironically,
the Atlantic City campaign will make no mention of casinos or gambling.

The new NFL policy states that ads can appear in game
programs, on local radio broadcasts of each team's games and around the
upper-level inner walls of the stadium facing the field. Under the new policy,
the casinos that advertise cannot have a sports book where bets are taken, or
promote gambling on sporting events. That would eliminate most casinos in Las
Vegas, but not those in Atlantic City, where sports betting is still illegal.

The campaign is the largest Atlantic City has ever launched
to promote tourism in the city. It will include buys for ads in broadcast,
print, digital and out-of-home in New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore, as well
as throughout New Jersey.

Advertising began rolling out on Monday (April 16) with the
goal of elevating the city's image and rebuilding leisure tourism beyond just
the casinos. The campaign includes two 30-second TV commercials, full-page
print ads and two radio spots. The campaign also includes billboard advertising
and a full signage "takeover" of the Port Authority Bus Station in
New York. Ads will also be placed on commuter rail station platforms for Metro
North, Long Island Railroad, New Jersey Transit and SEPTA in Philadelphia.

A website,, where prospective
visitors can plan itineraries, also went live on Monday.

The campaign is expected to continue through the end of
2012. Euro RSCG New York is the creative agency, and MPG is handling the media
planning and buying.

A spokesperson for Atlantic City Alliance said no decision
has yet been made on whether the new avails inside the stadiums and on local
broadcasts would be added to the city's ad campaign media mix, but with no
mention of casinos, the new campaign would have been acceptable before the new

Apart from the Atlantic City Alliance campaign, the new NFL
rules could be a valuable way for the Atlantic City casinos to draw traffic by
advertising not only in the New York Giants' and New York Jets' MetLife Stadium
in East Rutherford, N.J., but also in Lincoln Financial Field where the
Philadelphia Eagles play. However, it remains to be seen whether the individual
casinos will advertise when the city is trying to downplay gambling.

The Atlantic City casinos could ultimately get more visitors
through the Atlantic City Alliance campaign, which has been endorsed by New
Jersey Governor Chris Christie and the state legislature. But some will want to
take advantage of the new NFL rules to reach a pretty targeted audience of
prospective gamblers. A recent New York
article quoted Jets and Giants officials as saying the new rules could
bring in about $5 million a year in casino advertising.

Much like the situation in New Jersey with MetLife Stadium
being just about a two-hour drive from Atlantic City's casinos, 20 Pennsylvania
casinos are within an hour's drive from Lincoln Financial Field. The VP of
marketing for Parx Casino in Bensalem, Pa., the state's top-grossing casino,
told the Philadelphia Inquirer that
most of its customers are Eagles, Giants or Jets fans, so advertising in those
stadiums would be "a natural fit."

With that thinking in mind, it's hard to see how the
Atlantic City casinos would just sit back and not promote themselves just to
avoid undermining the tourism campaign.