Search engine giants block gambling ads
By paul
Google and Yahoo!, two of the biggest Internet search engines, will no longer take ads for online gambling companies, dealing a large blow to the industry.

The companies said the decision would be effective by the end of April. The move can be seen as a response to US federal prosecutors, who are threatening lawsuits against US companies doing business with overseas online gambling companies.

The prosecutors’ argument is that by doing business with online casinos and sportsbooks, US companies are 'aiding and abetting' these companies. Internet-based gambling is illegal in the US. Prosecutors began a grand jury probe into online gambling in 2003, issuing subpoenas to US media outlets running online casino ads.

Executives from both Yahoo and Google would not comment on whether they had been investigated. Both companies announced the decisions last Friday. A spokesperson for Overture, Yahoo’s ad sales division, put the policy change down to a 'lack of clarity' in the current legislation.

Overture also provides advertising links to MSN, Microsoft’s Internet portal. The spokesperson said it would no longer provide casino advertising to MSN. MSN said it would, therefore, pull the ads.

The spokesperson added that Yahoo would only stop running online casino ads on its US Web site, but would still display such advertising on its Web sites for countries where online gambling is legal. However, Google says it will pull ads from all of its global sites.

Lycos, a rival to Google and Yahoo, also announced on Friday that it had decided in the last few months to drop online gambling ads, but did not say when or why.

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