Interactive gambling website Gambling.com has reinvented itself as a gambling-only search engine.
The company says the move has been triggered by the decisions of major search engine companies such as Overture and Google to ban online gambling sites’ advertising from being shown in the US.
London-based Gambling.com will no longer accept “traditional” forms of online advertising, such as banners, text links, pop-ups and sponsorship; instead, it will now only offer pay-per-click search advertising using a proprietary engine which has been developed in house over the past six months.
Even though online gambling is illegal in the US, according to the American government, an estimated 80 per cent of worldwide gambling revenues come from US players. US players are logging on to internet casinos and gambling sites based in countries – including the UK – where they are legal.
The US authorities have been trying to crack down on online gambling sites (wherever they may be based) for years, and have put increasing pressure on US companies involved in running or providing services to such sites.
Major US credit card companies now refuse to process transactions for such sites, while US-based site owners and search engine companies, including MSN, Yahoo! (which owns Overture) and Google have stopped taking their advertising.
In May, US Marshals seized $3.2m (&£1.7m) from television and media company Discovery Communications. Discovery had been paid the money for US TV advertising spots for ParadisePoker.com, an online poker “room” operated by Costa Rica-based online casino company Tropical Paradise.
Although the US government says online gambling is banned under the Federal Wire Act, some US courts have not supported its stance, and some states, such as New York, have refused to consider online gambling a crime.
And while US-owned portals and search engine companies may refuse to show ads for gambling sites to US surfers, they may accept them for display to surfers in other countries.