Top Two in Search Snub Web Casino Ads

Google and Yahoo have simultaneously stopped accepting paid ads from online casinos, the companies confirmed.

The decisions by the two leading search engines, first reported by the New York Times, followed closely on moves by federal prosecutors to crack down on businesses that support offshore Internet casinos, the newspaper said in its report.

The prosecutors have reportedly subpoenaed several leading businesses that support Web casinos via advertising and other means. Online gambling businesses are illegal in the U.S., but offshore casinos have continued to cater to millions of Web-connected Americans.

Yahoo, which owns Overture, ended its practice of accepting graphical ads from online gambling outfits in 2002. Overture spokesperson Jennifer Stephens said Friday’s decision will bring the search company’s policies more into line with its parent, while protecting the it from what she described as a lack of clarity in the legal and regulatory environment for online gambling ads.

Google spokesperson David Krane said the move was part of an “ongoing commitment to enhancing our advertising policies to ensure that we provide the best search and advertising experience to our users.”

“Google will not accept online gambling ads anymore, worldwide,” he added.

Representatives of both companies said they expected all paid listings from Internet casinos to be removed from their pages by the end of April.

Some search engine experts have expressed concern over the lack of transparency in the companies’ motives for the policy shift.

It’s unclear how much damage the moves by Google and Yahoo will inflict on the online gambling sector.

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