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Google is set to reintroduce gambling ads to Adwords, something that will quickly generate many millions in additional revenue for the search giant.

Licensed gaming operators will from tomorrow be able to buy paid search ads. Google previously allowed free games to be promoted via Adwords, but a blanket ban (of sorts, as we shall discover) came into effect in summer 2007.

Affiliate marketing blogger James Little mentioned this yesterday, after a rumour circulated around this week’s A4Uexpo in London. The rumour has been confirmed by NMA, who spoke to Google’s James Cashmore.

Cashmore said: “Dennis Woodside and the team have been reviewing policies both from a legal and user need point of view at a local level … I definitely think that local markets will make more decisions in the future.”

Google has already updated its policy. It advises as follows:

“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.”

Gaming operators are advised to create a new account specifically for gambling-related campaigns (even if they already advertise with Google), and then apply by filling out a form and making various legal declarations.

Ads can only be targeted to England, Scotland and Wales. Failure to comply with this rule may result in account termination. Affiliates need to comply with these rules too, so be careful out there.

Although the new policy will open things up, there have been plenty of gambling ads on Google during the ban. A misspelling can do wonders. This can be seen today. A search on ‘online gambling’ yields no results (not for long, I suspect), but a cheeky typo makes all the difference.

Anybody who types in online gmablingwill see ads from brands such as 888, Cantor Casino, Bet 365, with ad text that leaves nothing to the imagination: “New Customers Double Your First Deposit Up to £100 - Exclusive Here”.

And it’s hardly a secret: there are 27 pages of sponsored links for the above example, so plenty of wily online marketing managers and search agencies know about this loophole. There are plenty of other gaming-related search phrases with typos that also generate ads for casinos.

So is this a recessionary move from Big G? Is the downturn starting to hit Google too? How can it not?

We’ll know more when it releases its Q3 results later today. If they’re below expectations we might see Google’s stock plummet to sub-$300, a level not seen for three years, and way off the high watermark (mid-$700s).

And if things do go awry then perhaps we can expect to see Google opening up Adwords even more. As well as the loosely-policed gambling ‘ban’, there are all kinds of other ads that Google theoretically doesn’t allow, from anabolic steroids to escort services.

However this same misspelling loophole seems to apply to all kinds of ‘banned’ advertisements, so if you want to get pumped up and make sexy time then just start typing clumsily.

Chris Lake

Published 16 October, 2008 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (11)

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Staysure

Did this come into effect and did they remove it again? As far as I know those adds are not allowed unless it's completely non-money free games.

almost 8 years ago

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Arthur

Hi there,

As far as I got it, that's gonna be only for the UK.

Does somebody have any news regarding Europe ? What's up for countries like France or Germany ? That's gonna be ok in future ?

If somebody coul answer my questions, it would be great.

Thanks

Arthur

almost 8 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

I think the idea is that Google starts operating in line with local policy, so because gaming is regulated in the UK Google will open up Adwords in the UK. The likelihood is that other regulated markets will follow suit...

almost 8 years ago

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Arthur

Thanks for the answer

almost 8 years ago

Daniel Phillips

Daniel Phillips, E-Commerce Manager at HJ Hall

Does anyone know what Google's policy is for gambling-related sites running Adsense?

It was prohibited, but as they've changed their policy with regards to Adwords, you would have thought that logically it would extend to publishers for Adsense.

However, I contacted my Google Adsense account manager and got the following:

-----

Hi Dan,

Thanks for your email. The policy change only applies to AdWords. I can't
comment if any such change will be introduced to the AdSense policies, but
I'll pass your feedback on to our product team.

Regards,

Strategic Accounts - Google AdSense

-----

So that means that Google doesn't know either?

almost 8 years ago

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Haydn

I find this reversal by google absolutely incredible. In one 'policy change' they have in effect killed off the myriad of alternative advertising mediums that have grown to cater for gambling advertisers as a result of their earlier 'head in the sand' approach to gambling ads. But I would bet any amount of money the changes don't filter through to gambling publishers with regard to adsense who have been previously banned, as I would imagine they would want to keep them well away from the 'spoils' of gambling ads, and restrict it to their own set of search results, thus providing themselves with an advantage that others cannot match, no matter how big their publisher networks are.

almost 8 years ago

Daniel Phillips

Daniel Phillips, E-Commerce Manager at HJ Hall

I know what you're saying, but if they permit adsense on gambling sites (I'm thinking primarily of the poker forums, rather than gambling in general), then the potential increased revenue for Google will not be insignificant.

Which other contextual advertising networks allow ads to be placed on gambling-related sites? Does Yahoo allow it?

almost 8 years ago

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Nicole

Good news!

Anyway I was using another ppc network from several time to now that is very good, even more for gambling sites.

Here's a link: Casino ad ads for gambling(PayPal)

Good luck!

over 7 years ago

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La mejor solution Price per Head

There is a way around each ban. And when it comes to Google, I come across double standard stories all the time. Gambling industry overcame all kinds of bans and regulations, Adwords issue is the lesser of all troubles I think. Online gambling operators have enough means to provide themselves with proper advertising with or without Google's approval.

over 6 years ago

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Ryan

I run an informative sports betting web site.  And I had recently applied for Google Adsense for my site.  But I ws declined because I linked to casinos and other gambling sites.  You would think with this new update to their policy that they would allow sites like mine the ability to use there service but I guess not.

about 6 years ago

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casino bonus

I still do not understand how some sites are allowed to do this even with gambling content and then others continue to be denied for trying to set up the same thing. Who do you have to know here?

almost 6 years ago

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