After Yahoo UK opened itself up to UK licensed gambling ads about a month ago, and MSN UK doing the same, Google UK has felt the pressure to allow gambling ads in the UK, where online and offline casino, sports betting and other forms of gambling is legal and tolerated.
Google UK is now allowing advertising in their AdWords for gambling associated ads by online gambling companies in what is marking a major change in Google’s global anti-gambling stance, which until now reflected their US-centric approach to policing Google Adwords advertisers worldwide.
This is also another sign that the worldwide economic state is hitting the search marketing divisions of these content producers and search engines in their pockets. Lifting the Google UK ban could bring an extra boost of hundreds of millions of dollars to Google, or perhaps even closer to a billion, in a time of economic crisis.
Google UK strictly defines the types of gambling ads which are permitted, and the geotargeting of such ads using Google UK.
Advertising for the promotion of online gambling websites is not permitted to target locations outside Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales). Ads for online gambling will not be displayed in other countries.
Online gambling includes, but is not limited to, the following:
* sports books and sports betting
* sites that provide tips, odds, and handicapping
* software facilitating online casinos and gambling
* gambling tutoring online
* gambling-related eBooks
* ‘play for fun’ gambling or casino games of skill including sites where the primary purpose is ‘play for fun’ gambling
* affiliate sites with the primary purpose of driving traffic to online gambling sites
Advertising online gambling in Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales)
Google AdWords allows online gambling advertisements to target Great Britain (England, Scotland, or Wales) as long as the advertiser is registered with the Gambling Commission and provides a valid operating license number. Advertisers based outside the UK and within the European Economic Area who wish to target online gambling ads to England, Scotland, or Wales must be licensed to advertise online gambling in their respective country.
To the best of my knowledge, Microsoft Search in the UK does not require a valid operating license number, but Google UK and Yahoo UK both do. The geotargeting of the ads should be able to be controlled by Google, and I’m sure given the news, that gambling publishers would be happy to see high paying casino ads being served to UK readers via Google AdSense, if Google UK AdSense is serving the ads.
I’d like to see Google Global follow suit, opening up advertising restrictions in other global markets which are gambling friendly, such as Hong Kong, Macao, other Commonwealths and other gambling friendly nations.