Google offers users greater control over gambling ads

| By Conor Mulheir
Google has announced it will add a new feature to its ad settings, allowing users to see fewer advertisements for gambling.

The search engine giant said the new controls – which also offer a restriction on alcohol advertising – have been introduced in response to feedback that some people would prefer to limit ads in certain sensitive categories.

Google pointed out that it has long had features such as ‘mute this ad’, allowing users to indicate which ads they would prefer not to see. In addition, Google has its own policies which determine when and where gambling and alcohol advertising may be used in order to limit exposure to vulnerable groups.

Under the new feature, however, users may choose to see fewer gambling and alcohol ads with a single click in their ad settings. This can then be reversed if they choose.

The feature will be rolled out gradually, beginning with YouTube Ads in the United States, with an aim to introduce the feature globally for Google Ads and YouTube in early 2021.

“We believe this new feature is an important step in user choice and control,” Google said. “We’ll continue to improve our controls; and as our products and people’s expectations of them evolve, so will the features we make available to personalize ad experiences.”

Countries with legal restrictions against gambling or alcohol advertising will not see any change in their policies, Google said.

In developing the feature, Google has been working together with the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD) and its members, taking into account their experience in the standards for responsible alcohol advertising and marketing.

“As a responsible producer and member of IARD, we are determined to set and deliver new and robust standards of marketing responsibility,” Albert Baladi, chair of the IARD, said. “This significant new feature is a very important development for our sector, and it will have a meaningful impact for people around the world as it is rolled out across Google’s platform.”

The update comes at a time where gambling advertising is increasingly under fire. Regulatory changes in Spain recently banned all gambling advertising outside the hours of 1:00AM and 5:00AM, including on YouTube.

In Germany’s newly-regulating igaming market, casino marketing is prohibited altogether. The UK government’s review of its Gambling Act will also see gambling advertising come under scrutiny, as MPs explore the harms or benefits of bonusing, sports sponsorship, and advertising in general.

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