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Emily D. Swoboda

Google Revises U.K. Online Gambling Ad Policy

16 October 2008

Google has reversed a four-year ban on Internet gambling advertising in Britain to accept ads from online gambling companies licensed with the United Kingdom Gambling's Commission as well as those licensed in the European Economic Area.

According to the company, the new policy enables operators to purchase text-based ads targeted only to users in Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) through Google's AdWords program, which means the ads will appear on Google's search results pages and not on the Google Content Network.

Gareth Evans, spokesperson for Google, told IGamingNews via telephone today that making the decision to change the policy was a long, hard-thought process.

"This decision is not something we take lightly," he said. "Based on business factors, as well as user and advertiser factors, we decided that it would be in our best interest, and in the advertiser and users' best interest, to change the policy just for this territory -- not globally."

Google instituted an international ban on Internet gambling advertising in 2004 in response to a United States grand jury investigation into the I-gaming industry.

Up until 2007, however, Google did allow United Kingdom-licensed operators to place ads for free-to-play online gambling Web sites targeting Britain. But when Google learned that some of the sites were leading to real money sites, Mr. Evans said, it had to extend the ban to include free play gambling sites.

Mr. Evans explained why the new policy is only effective in Britain and the EEA.

"We are comfortable reintroducing this policy into the British market based on a number of factors, including the fact that the government brought into effect the Gambling Act 2005 last year, which liberalized TV gambling advertising," Mr. Evans said.

James Cashmore, industry leader for entertainment and media at Google UK, said in a prepared statement today that Google has been reviewing its advertising policy in Great Britain with regards to online gambling during the past few months to ensure it is as consistent as possible with local business practices.

"We hope this change will enhance the search experience for users and help advertisers connect with interested consumers," Mr. Cashmore said.

The policy change takes effect on Friday, and Mr. Evans said Google has been in discussions with some advertisers in the last 24 hours, though he could not divulge who they were.

Click here to view Google UK AdWords' new gambling advertisement policy.

Google Revises U.K. Online Gambling Ad Policy is republished from
Emily D. Swoboda
Emily D. Swoboda