Google's new gambling ad policies reference 'province-licensed entities in certain provinces,' clearly referring to Ontario at the moment

Google Updates Canadian Ad Policy To Accommodate Ontario Online Casinos, Sportsbooks

Google has updated its Canadian advertising policy.

The change will allow Ontario sportsbooks and online casinos to advertise with the search engine. However, any such advertiser must register with Google before running ads.

Before the change, Google’s policies used the phrase “state-licensed entities” to describe regulated operators even in Canada. This language now reads “government-run entities” for lottery and “province-licensed entities in certain provinces” for sports betting and casino.

This more precise terminology has likely been adopted in preparation for Ontario’s April 4 online gaming launch date. The province will be the first in Canada to allow private operators to offer online gaming products and services through a provincially regulated system.

Google’s gambling policies gradually progress

Google has traditionally taken a conservative approach to online gambling apps and advertisements. The search engine previously restricted even legal private operators from advertising in the US. It also wasn’t until last year that legal gambling apps became available in Google’s Play Store. Prior to that, Android users had to download apps directly from operators’ websites and jump through some extra hoops to install them.

The company dipped its toe into permitting North American gambling ads with a beta update in 2019. That update exclusively allowed New Jersey sports books to advertise on the search engine’s website. The beta run would prove successful. Google would move a bit further into the online gaming market and allow five other states to advertise a few months later.

It wouldn’t be until 2020 for Google to fully commit itself and include all state-licensed entities in its policies.

All eyes on the Canadian market

Ontario online gambling is a hot topic at the moment. Google’s switch to put Canada on the same footing as the American market only further proves it.

On the one hand, operators see a lot of potential in the market. The European online gambling giant Entain is bringing its joint venture BetMGM to the Ontario regulated market, but has also acquired Avid Gaming (including the Sports Interaction brand) to keep a foot in the rest of the country’s gray market. Canadian media company Torstar is even launching its own online gambling brand just for the new market.

On the other hand, the idea has its detractors as well. Ontario may face many difficulties, from legal challenges to First Nations protest to union concerns. The next few months should be interesting.

- Katy Jean is a columnist and freelance writer from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. Her writing has been focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and Canadian politics. She is most active from her Twitter account @katynotie.
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