Bingo News: Google changes gambling policy for Great Britain

By Becky Mosley - October 17 2008

Internet search engine Google yesterday announced that they will allow paid search engine advertising for gambling sites in Great Britain. This is a reversal of a longstanding policy for Google.

From today, Friday 17th October, licensed gaming operators will be able to buy previously disallowed paid search adverts. Google began a ban on gambling adverts, including online bingo, in June 2007 which was not popular with anyone in the gaming industry.

The decision to introduce the adverts has angered politicians and religious groups. Peter Kilfoyle, the former Labour Defence minister said: ” I think it’s extraordinary that a major global company should seek, at this time, to promote gambling on it’s internet site. I’m not being judgemental. I’m talking about the timing of it.”

There was little warning of the overturn of the ban but the policy had been under reveiw for nearly a year. Google had been consulting with advertising executives and the Gambling Commission before they came to a decision.

The companies that will be allowed to advertise with Google for gambling must have a license from the Gambling Commission or their National regulator, and be based within the European Economic Area (EEA)

The text adverts will be regulated companies and will be treated as ‘non family safe’, therefore will not appear in filtered results.

James Cashmore, the Google industry head said: “Dennis Woodside and the team have been reveiwing policies both from a legal and user need point of view at a local level. I definitely think that the local makets will make more decisions in the future. This is not a decision that’s been made quickly; it’s been something that’s been under discussion for months.”

Google wanted to assure people that the decision they made was not anything to do with the current economic climate and the downturn of Google’s share price.

A Google spokesman said, ” Over the last few months we’ve been reveiwing our gambling advertising policy in Great Britain to ensue it is as consistent as possible with local business practices. Following a review , we have decided to amend our policy to allow text ads to appear against search queries relating to gambling in Great Britain.”