Those Las Vegas Super Bowl ads might be coming back. Only this time, they probably won’t be as risque.
Reversing a policy instituted in 2004, the NFL on Wednesday announced it would permit Las Vegas, as well as Reno and Lake Tahoe, to advertise during game telecasts, including the playoffs and Super Bowl.
The commercials cannot contain gambling references or images, such as slot machines, cards or a shot of the Strip. Also, casinos remain barred from advertising during games.
“We notified our network partners that we will not object to ads airing during our games for any tourism destination, including Las Vegas,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement. “It is a reasonable modification of our policy that still protects ourselves.”
Nevada politicians and tourism officials welcomed the news.
“I never thought it made sense,” said Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), who helped facilitate the NFL’s policy change after meeting with commissioner Roger Goodell in Washington on March 11. “Las Vegas is one of the best places for the NFL to do business with. There’s tremendous interest in the league there.
“To me, I thought it was shortsighted. I think Las Vegas actually helps promote the NFL, and I talked to Commissioner Goodell and several (NFL) owners about that.”
Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, a harsh critic of the NFL’s anti-Vegas stance, said he was glad to see Goodell change his mind on the advertising issue.
“Las Vegas is synonymous with good times,” Goodman said. “The best entertainment, the best restaurants, the best shopping — we have it all. This allows us to reach the demographic we want to reach.”
Under the modified policy, tourist destinations that allow gambling can advertise during games from Jan. 4 to Feb. 28, 2010. After that, the NFL will determine whether to extend the new rules into next season or revert to the old ones banning such ads. The regular season ends Jan. 3.
Rossi Ralenkotter, president and chief executive of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, said the group is exploring whether it can buy time for this season’s playoffs and Super Bowl, which will be played Feb. 7 at Miami’s Land Shark Stadium.
“If it’s doable and within our budget, certainly we’ll look to have a presence on the telecast,” Ralenkotter said.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. The Associated Press contributed to this report.