Judge supports WV’s lottery balancing act


West Virginia makes money off legalized gambling in the state, some of which is done at lottery parlors. However, it also restricts their advertising messaging, part of the states delicate effort to get cash from its citizens without turning them into gambling addicts.

The issue involves video poker games, which the state allowed as a fund-raising facility back in 2001. Some locations operating the machines began marketing themselves as “casinos” and otherwise called attention to their gambling operations. As a result, the WV legislature passed laws banning certain words and phrasing from promotional materials, including references to gambling capitals like Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

A lottery association argued that their First Amendment rights were being infringed upon, with ACLU support, but the Fourth Circuit Court in Richmond VA found in favor of the State of West Virginia. According to the Associated Press, the Association of Club Owners and Fraternal Services is considering an appeal to the Supreme Court, but is hoping it can work out some sort of compromise with the State to allow a bit more promotion than the bland state-approved signage currently allowed.

RBR/TVBR observation: It’s great that states can run all manner of gaudy advertising, and even be a part of local news programming, but slams the door on private interests trying to do the same thing. It’s just more evidence that commercial speech is not as free as the speech they prominently mention in the US Constitution.