From the Legal Hotline (1-877-NEWS-LAW)

From the Legal Hotline (1-877-NEWS-LAW)

Q. What is the latest on advertising sports betting such as online casinos?

A. In the past, we have recommended against accepting advertising in Florida that promotes online casinos (with the caveat that there is some room to accept “sponsored ads” from online gaming and review sites). This recommendation, however, has recently changed due to federal appellate cases reviewing the matter allowing terms of the Seminole Tribe gambling compact to go into effect. As a result, our current view is that it is probably okay to accept such advertising, provided it is for sports betting associated with the Seminole Tribe, so long as there is no contrary activity by the federal courts.

Q. Can you please list the current steps necessary for our free paper to publish legal notices?
It is audited and its website is a component of our website.

A. The general requirements are well known and require the paper to be printed and published periodically at least once a week, contain at least 25 percent of its words in the English language, be available to the public generally and of interest to the general public. Further, the newspaper at the time of such publication must have been in existence for 2 years.

For free publications that lack a periodicals permit, the audience requirements apply, namely a minimum audience of 10 percent of the households in the county or municipality as calculated by combining the total of the number of print copies and the total number of online unique monthly visitors. These audience numbers must be audited. The newspaper must also be sold, or otherwise available to the public, at no less than 10 publicly accessible outlets.

Regarding online requirements, each legal notice must be published on the newspaper’s website on the same day that the printed notice appears in the newspaper. A link to the legal notices web page must be provided on the front page of the newspaper’s website. The newspaper’s website must contain a search function to facilitate searching the legal notices. Finally, the newspaper publishing the notice must upload the notice to www.floridapublicnotices.com.

Q. Regarding our public notice website that we use and which in the future could be used as part of the county website, is there any legal responsibility to provide ADA compliance such as an “alt text” option for readers when maps or graphics are posted. This would enhance certain elements of text for better readability, but they aren’t necessarily designated as ADA-compliant. Do you have any insight if there are any ADA laws along these lines? We certainly don’t have those options now in print.

A. As for the newspaper itself being accessible, the ADA specifically lists a dozen or so “private entities” that constitute “public accommodations” for purposes of the ADA. Newspapers and the physical space of a newspaper operation are not included.

But what about the newspaper’s website in general? Can it standing alone be classified as a “public accommodation?” I think the case law is fuzzy in this area. Some cases covering Florida seem to reject this idea by requiring the website to access some specific, physical, concrete space like a grocery store, ticket counter, or travel agency.

As for the newspaper website being used as the official county notice website, here is a link to DOJ Civil Rights Division website on ADA compliance. These DOJ guidelines point out that ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in all services, programs, and activities of state and local governments. State and local governments must take steps to ensure that their communications with people with disabilities are as effective as their communications with others.