A specialist in problem gambling has criticised Google’s decision to show ads for gambling sites.
Google announced the change earlier this month, promising that ads will only be accepted from companies registered in the UK or under gambling laws in their own countries, and that search filtering would protect young people.
However, leading psychiatrist Dr Emanuel Moran has written to The Times raising concerns over each of these safeguards.
Many remote gambling sites are based in Gibraltar, he writes, where the Government itself has acknowledged the “regulatory framework is not as robust as ours”.
He also points out that Google’s ‘SafeSearch’ filter is so easy to alter that “even a child can change it”.
He says that the escalating promotion of gambling is “reckless”, particularly in light of recent Gambling Commission findings that problem gambling among young people is “an emerging public health issue”.
The Gambling Commission’s research showed that between five and seven per cent of young people are already classified as having gambling problems, while up to 14 per cent are at risk of developing them.
Hannah Kimuiu, an advertising industry expert, guessed that Google’s decision was aimed at increasing advertising revenue.
She said: “The gambling advertising industry is probably worth £100 million a year. A lot of advertisers have had to half their budgets in the past year. They’ve got to recover this money somewhere.”
Dr Moran is specialist adviser on pathological gambling at the Royal College of Psychiatrists.