Google and Yahoo have decided to stop displaying advertisements for online casinos, stepping out of the way from potential law suits from US States and the US Government, which have banned or are looking to ban online gambling. Running online gambling sites from within the US is illegal. The two Internet giants have said that the move has been necessitated by the ‘lack of clarity’ in American regulations.
United States prosecutors, said The New York Times, had warned companies in March over the carrying of advertisements for offshore online casinos. Prosecutors had the display of such advertisements was tantamount to aiding and abetting.
While Yahoo! said that the ban on casino ads will apply to its US Web sites only, Google will ban them across the world. According to The New York Times, the change is likely to come in at the end of this month.
Meanwhile, The Register said that some legal observers believe adverts for online gambling could be protected under free speech rights. The World Trade Organisation had recently ruled that the US ban on online gambling was in breach of international trade law. Once the US and the WTO get their acts together (ha!) we may have a final ruling. In the meantime, it makes perfect sense for these search engine advertising monsters to wait it out.
There is no news on to whether these search engines will be banning such sites from their search indexes (non-advertising results).