Alabama AG Forces Station to Pull Ads

10 November 2003

Citing a state law that bans gambling advertisements, a deputy in the Alabama Attorney General's office sent a letter to a Birmingham radio station telling it to stop running advertisements for offshore sports betting operations.

Richard Allen told IGN on Monday that he issued a letter to WJOX-AM, an all-sports station that bills itself as The Jock, informing them they were in violation of state law by carrying the advertisements and said if the ads weren't pulled possible charges could be filed.

A spokesperson from the station on Monday said WJOX was pulling all of its Internet gambling advertisements and was even informing its on-air hosts not to discuss point-spreads and betting lines, which is a common theme at the station during the college football season.

Allen said he too was contacted by lawyers from the stations saying the advertisements would be pulled, but noted that it wasn't Allen's job to continually monitor the situation.

"All we can do is make sure the laws of the state are being followed," he said. "We aren't out there searching for this kind of stuff, we only know about it if we get a complaint from a consumer or a competitor."

The letter was sent after Allen received a compact disc from a competing station that included commercials that had aired on WJOX. Allen said he only received the CD from the other station because it had been forced to pull similar ads from its airways.

"They provided us with the copy and felt that if they couldn't carry the ads then no other station should be allowed to either," he said. Allen said the main reason the station was threatened with possible criminal charges was that WJOX had been previously warned about the commercials.

"If the ads are discontinued immediately, this office contemplates no further action. This is, however, the second time we have communicated with you about these kinds of activities," Allen wrote.

Promoting gambling is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a fine of $2,000. Allen warned that each airing of a commercial would be considered a separate crime.

Allen said efforts by officials within the Alabama Attorney General's office to stop radio advertisements of online casinos and sports books were done separately from the Department of Justice and the federal government. He said he was unaware of any grand jury investigation being conducted until the letter was sent out.

"We heard back from some lawyers from the station who said the ads would be pulled," he said. "They told us that they were aware that the Department of Justice was putting forth similar requests and they agreed the easiest thing to do was to pull the advertisements from the airwaves."

To view a copy of Allen's letter to WJOX click here.