Google’s ad products fuel illegal betting app penetration in India

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Google’s ecosystem of online advertisement products is fuelling the penetration of illegal betting and gambling portals in the country. Google’s search advertising and Doubleclick are being used rampantly by the illegal betting portals. These betting portals operate under a shady business structures avoiding detection of actual preparators. In many cases, identity theft is restored for opening of bank accounts by these portals.

The advertising policies of Google prohibit gambling and betting promotions. However, the search engine giant appears to be permitting the ads under the carpet.  This is despite a public stance of Google in December 2022 of not permitting illegal gambling and betting advertisements.

Responding to a query from Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) in December 2022, the tech giant released a statement claiming it does not permit any online gambling advertisements in the country.

Doubleclick is used to target users to serve interest based websites. So when an user visits a gambling portal for first time and leaves, the portal targets the user by serving ads on the websites he is visiting later with the help of Doubleclick.

MIB in December instructed Google to stop running any direct or indirect advertisements of illegal betting platforms. “After our last advisory on 3 October, TV channels and OTT players stopped showing surrogate ads of online betting firms, but it was brought to our notice that many such ads are running on YouTube and Google. We have asked Google to stop this immediately,” a senior official in MIB was quoted in December.

Google appeared to have prohibited betting portals promoting through its platforms for first few days after the MIB dikkat. However, come February 2023, the ads are now rampant riding high with the help Google search ads, Ad Exchange with the blessings of the search engine giant.