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Monday, December 24th, 2007

Ad Probed

Written by Tom Somach in Poker News

Twenty years after he sprang onto the scene, Bart Simpson is still making trouble.

This time, it’s in the world of poker.

A television commercial for online poker room Poker Stars that ran in New Zealand, and was seen by a 9-year-old girl watching the cartoon show “The Simpsons,” is being investigated by government officials there.

According to the local newspaper the New Zealand Herald, John Stansfield, who is the head of the Problem Gambling Foundation, a local support group for compulsive gamblers, says the TV ad broke a New Zealand law that bans online gambling.

Stansfield is the father of the girl who saw the commercial on New Zealand television channel TV3, the newspaper reported.

A TV3 flak told the paper, however, that the ad in question was “vetted by the Television Commercials Approval Bureau, which pre-screens all TV ads before they go to air, in line with the Advertising Standards Authority guidelines.”

Another TV3 flak said: “This ad was deemed acceptable outside of children’s program time, the same classification awarded to TAB and Lotto commercials.” Problem Gambling Foundation health promotion adviser Melissa Gregan told the newspaper she saw the commercial at 5:09 p.m. on November 30 and at 7:40 p.m. on November 15, both times during “The Simpsons.”

A New Zealand government official told the Herald that it had received multiple complaints about the television commercial and was investigating.

(E-mail Tom Somach at [email protected].)

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