Google has extended a ban on online gambling providers' use of AdWords to include even services that are free to consumers.

Both Yahoo! and Google outlawed ads for internet casinos and poker services back in 2004, drawing ire from the industry, which many say benefits from online advertising more than others.

Now the ban in the UK has been extended to apply also to sites that help users to gamble but on which no money changes hands. Many commercial gambling sites use initial free-play options to attract customers to upgraded pay-for gaming options.

The new policy covers gambling tutorials, sites offering play-for-fun features and those promoting gambling-related content. According to AdWords' revised content policy:

"Advertising is not permitted for online casinos, sports books, bingo and affiliates with the primary purpose of driving traffic to online gambling sites.

"This includes, but is not limited to, the promotion of online casinos and gambling activities, sports books, lotteries, bingo, poker, sites that provide tips, odds and handicapping, software facilitating online casinos and gambling, gambling tutoring online, gambling related eBooks, sites where the primary purpose is 'play for fun' gambling, or casino games of skill, and affiliates with the primary purpose of driving traffic to online gambling sites."

The ban comes as the UK effectively liberalises laws on gambling. The government has pledged to prosecute overseas gaming firms advertising online in the UK under the Gaming Act 1968, which states: 

"There is no prohibition on advertisements which 'inform' the public of gaming facilities overseas, as long as those advertisements do not invite such persons to gamble."

The laws will change this September, however, when the Gambling Act 2005 comes into force.

A Google spokesperson said:

"Google has always prohibited the advertising of things like bingo, poker and online casinos.

"However, having looked at this issue very carefully and considered the views of our users, we have decided to extend our policy.

"While we respect people's differing views on gambling - and support freedom of expression - we believe that this new policy is simpler for everyone to understand and more in tune with users' wishes."

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Comments (9)

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Tom Proudlock

Bloody disgrace. They should adhere to the law of the land they operate in, rather than making these sorts of decisions. If I type in 'sports betting' then how is it NOT RELEVANT to show me ads from betting firms?

Where DOES Google's moral code start and end? Some might say 'abortion' isn't something it should permit, but does.

over 10 years ago



Google seems to have some very strange double standards here. And who are these mysterious users who have convinced Google to extend it's policy even further..?

over 10 years ago


sports betting

Google takes these steps in order to show the world who nice they are and how good they take care of their clients, but I do not think these kind of decisions should be made by any search engine.

Search engines should "search" - if they find something relevant they should show it up - no matter if it's adult or if it's gambling - as long as it's legal it should be found.

Why do they show up adds about how to build a nuclear weapon? that's something positive that should assist their users? If so - it's a good thing that Iran had banned Google.

over 10 years ago



I guess nobody outside the U.S. and U.K. uses google? Which search engine do the folks in Antigua, for example, use?

over 10 years ago



I manage an account for a company that just provides information on poker. It's all US based. Beginning of Jan 08 their ads were all dispapproved while competitor ads still appear. They aren't play for fun or anything like that.

So I'm confused. Are they banning ads that have absolutely anything about gambling? Does this mean they will pull all the gambling related books from google book search?

A simple search for poker book on shows a bunch of ads. Is it possible my client is a "catch byproduct"? and I can ask google to review it or is there no chance because this is a total and complete ban on everything (which I don't see because there's tons of ads about one form of gaming or another).

about 10 years ago



It is getting harder (if not impossible) to get gambling ads into adwords, and they are clamping down heavily on gambling sites who display adsense ads as well. The solution is to look for niche advertising providers who specialise in this form of advertising. Saves all the hassle of having your adwords and/or adsense accounts cancelled and the ads are more highly targeted I have found.

almost 10 years ago


Bingo Base

If only Google could actually deliver the complete ban. Searches for bingo, free bingo, casino, poker etc bring up a host of ads advertising free money or jobs in that industry, you register your email only to be delivered real money offers in the gambling space. These are banned by Google and despite reporting these cases they still appear.

Rumour has it, these advertisers create the ad every night put it live and before the morning they've completely removed the ad so it can never be banned. In addition, it's done through a non-UK and non-US google account.

Not had the time to test it mind.

almost 10 years ago



This is a complete double standard! Google bans 'gambling' ads, yet it shows 1000s of ads per day for stock market investment companies, gold investments companies etc.

Can someone explain to me how investing in the stock market is not a gamble, just ask those share holders of Northern Rock?? I would love to sue them on the basis of displaying ads for stock market investments is breaching there own regulations on displaying gambling ads!

If investing in the stock market doesn't count as gambling, then surely betting on the rise and fall of the FT100 or Nasdaq with BetFair or a spread betting company should also be allowed??

over 9 years ago


Blu-ray Man

I do agree with google for banned gambling ads

Thanks for infomation :D

almost 9 years ago

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