Gambling Ads On Google – Then v Now

By June 14, 200710 Comments

Google imposed a “full” ban on gambling ads starting from the 1st of this month. In the past Google officially allowed ads from websites that did not require payment. So for example, any casino could lure people to their site via a free gaming portal, and then direct them to the paid site thereafter.

The old system was far from perfect, as explained in the previous article about gambling ads on Google. Google have tried to plug this loophole in their system now, by banning all advertisements related to gambling altogether. This means that even genuinely free sites can no longer advertise for any gambling related keywords. This ban even extends to bingo, play-for-fun and lottery (except official state lottery) sites.

Two weeks into the newly imposed ban, the systems seem to be just as flawed and full of loopholes as before!

A search for obvious terms like “online casino” or “poker” does not yield any sponsored results. However, searches for “play poker” or “casino” yield more sponsored link results than a user would possibly click. And in fact, now they don’t even pretend to be free sites.

Screenshot of Google search results page for

When asked about this glaring flaw in the system, a Google AdWords Account Manager said “Some ads show while they are in the queue for approval and have not yet been reviewed by our AdWords Specialists. Our AdWords Specialists review the ads showing on such search terms and disapprove where necessary. They work to removed all ads which violate our policy and suspend advertisers who repeatedly violate our policies from the AdWords programme.”

Revised AdWords gambling policy:

Google AdWords does not permit the advertisement of online gambling websites. Related content is also prohibited from ad text and keywords. 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
  • affiliates with the primary purpose of driving traffic to online gambling sites
  • ebooks that promote gambling-related content
  • sites where the primary purpose is ‘play for fun’ gambling
  • online gambling tutoring
  • sites where the primary purpose is gambling or casino games of skill.


  • Simone says:

    15/06/07 10:07 and the search terms for online casino have changed again within google… no sponsored results turn up but the natural listing brings up quite a choice

  • AccuraCast says:

    Haha! Someone at Google took notice of this post. But there are still sponsored links for “play poker”. I can’t imagine it’s THAT tough to just automatically block anyone from advertising on the word poker altogether?!

  • Nick J. says:

    “Play for fun” gambling? What’s that? That’s an oxymoron. There’s another way to comply with the gambling laws — make it honor-based, a la ebay. Check out Betcha.com, among others, for that.

  • AccuraCast says:

    How does Betcha.com offer a solution to the gambling laws? It’s just finding a loophole in the system, per se, by making it one-to-one rather than individual versus large gambling corporation.

    Note that this post has little to do with the legality of gambling. Google does not make laws. It just maintains its own editorial policy for its own index, and has no control over what gambling laws allow or prevent.

  • Matt G. says:

    Same thing going on with Facebook recently. Look at this! Ridiculous!

  • Chvechi says:

    I think this is a great decision from google.This will surely reduce the amount of gambling online.

  • Jatin Kshp says:

    Google done a great job. So far