Betting and Gaming Council Calls On Google to Update Blacklist

The Betting and Gaming Council has urged search engine giant Google to take action over listings of offshore casinos returning when GamStop is being searched for. The UK trade body wants search engines to blacklist websites that target people who have self-excluded from gambling.

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The BGC wants action © Pixabay.

Twitter user @GamblingInsight raised the issue on the platform by posting pictures of what happened when he Googled ‘GamStop UK’ to obtain their contact details. In the sponsored link section there were several affiliate adverts for offshore casinos.

The Twitter user captioned the image, “Very concerning: Searched for Gamstop as I need to contact them. Am met with the top x3 search hits for sites not signed up to this important tool. Thoughts?”.

Chairman of the Betting and Gaming Council, Brigid Simmonds, said that operators licensed by the UK Gambling Commission and their affiliates are prohibited from advertising with words that imply that the user is seeking help. Simmonds confirmed that the BGC was seeking talks with google and added;

Any non-UK licensed operator or affiliate that is linking adverts to search terms, such as GamStop, must be stopped. We will raise this with the relevant bodies and have already asked the search firms to strengthen keyword prohibitions for advertising purposes. Brigid Simmonds, BGC chairman.

Whist not directly referencing the case it seems Google will be making changes as Chris Harrison, who is the industry head of financial trading and egaming seemed to suggest that Google is in the process of refreshing their global gambling blacklist. However, no timescales were quoted.

A request to Google to blacklist gambling sites is not without precedent, early last year, the tech company began complying with Russia’s rules on blocking undesirable material, which included internationally licensed online gambling sites.

Under Russian law, search results are checked against the Unified Register of Prohibited Information which is maintained by the federal state information system (FGIS). Any offending material, or blacklisted domain, will see the information removed from search results.

Google had initially refused to comply with the rules, leading to Russian telecom watchdog Roskomnadzor issuing a RUB500k (£6,141) fine against the company. Under Russian law, the maximum penalty for this offence is currently RUB700k (£8597.40). This figure is likely to increase with Reuters reporting that Russia is planning on sharply increasing the levels of fines for offenders. New proposals are calling for penalties of 1% of turnover; for Google, this would amount to 450.2 million rubles (£5.53m).

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