It is not allowed to advertise online poker via Google AdWords. However when searching for "poker" in Google we can download software for Pacific Poker in two clicks via AdWords, and what's even worse some AdWords are openly encouraging players to defraud the other players at the table. "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”.
According to Google's AdWords content policy "Advertising is not permitted for online casinos, sports books, bingo, and affiliates with the primary purpose of driving traffic to online gambling sites."
This statement doesn't specifically state it is not permitted to promote online poker through Google AdWords, but since there are no (direct) ads for online poker on Google we can safely assume that Google includes online poker in it's definition of "online gambling".
Of course we could argue that poker is essentially a game of skill, and therefore ads for online poker aren't covered by Google's content policy, and thus should be allowed, but that's not what we'd like to talk about in this article. Instead we'll focus on the poker ads that *are* allowed by Google AdWords.
If you search for "poker" on Google you won't find any AdWords that are direct advertisements for online poker rooms, but what you *will* find is even less desirable. And that's probably an understatement.
Let's go over a few Poker AdWords to show you exactly what we mean. If you want to verify our findings search for "poker" on Google and see for yourself.
The first advertisement on the right hand side wants to make us believe we can make $25,000 a month by cheating at online poker. You can't advertise an online poker room on Google but you can promote an e-book that teaches you to sign-up at an online poker room with the sole intent to defraud the other players at your table. This ad is not only promoting fraud, but it's a fraud in itself, as it is making claims that are utter nonsense. If you click on the ad you will be redirected to the Cheat-At-Poker site which says in it's first bold red header "Discover a Simple, Step-by-Step Technique for Seeing Your Opponents Hole Cards - and Driving Insane Amounts of Cash into Your Online Poker Account Every Night!". Need I say more :)
Now let's examine the third advertisement. Apparently we are invited to play Free Poker Games at a site called Poker.Play-Secret.com. We said earlier in this article that you won't find any direct advertisements for online poker in Google Adwords, but I guess we were wrong!. After clicking on this ad we are directed to the Play-Secret.com site. The first link on this site is called "Texas Holdem Free Download". Let's check this out. Oops... We are presented with a download of 888.com/Pacific Poker, owned by Cassava Enterprises, a publicly owned company traded on the London Stock Exchange. We can choose between a Play for Fun and a Real Money download. Let's choose the latter. We've now downloaded an online poker room via Google Adwords.
This shouldn't come as a complete surprise since 888.com is a company that also has a preference for using unethical SEO methods like site scraping to gain exposure. Anything for a buck! But endorsed by Google AdWords!
The last example is another ad that wants to turn you into a poker cheat. And this one comes with an "100% UNCONDITIONAL MONEY BACK GUARANTEE !" too! What more can we ask for? A random quote from this site: "Know if your hand is going to win or lose BEFORE you see your hole cards or the flop". Now that would come in handy wouldn't it? ROTFLMAO.
From the three examples presented above we can only conclude that Google is willfully turning a blind eye on some of it's poker advertisers, or that it lacks the tools or manpower to properly screen the ads it's serving though the AdWords system. Whatever the reason, all three ads are clearly violating the AdWords content policy, and Google itself is ultimately responsible for the ads that they serve.
From the company that "Does No Evil" we certainly would have expected better, especially since advertisements like the ones discussed in this article are being served by Google Adwords for months if not years now.