Less clear for many are advertisements for products or services that are legal, but that are largely rejected by traditional advertisers. Gambling related advertising is clearly in this category. Gambling online, and even gambling online with money is legal in most parts of the world, and with rare exceptions is legal in the US. However, a combination of public perception, strict laws in the US against using electronic banking transfers to fund gambling accounts, and severe restrictions on gambling ads by Google and other major online advertising providers give most web site and blog owners the perception that accepting advertising is risky or potentially damaging to the site's reputation.
Perceptions can change, especially if if a well-know and well-regarded web site leads the way. Enter Ellen DeGeneres.
On a recent show, a pop-up on the side of the TV screen invited viewers to play games at her web site at http://ellen.warnerbros.com/games/poker/. The biggest graphic on the page was inviting viewers to play online poker:
Below the graphic were several options for either playing poker online or learning how to play online poker. While there were many non-gambling or casino related games on the site, the most prominent links were to poker, blackjack, and Texas hold-em links. Also, it was clear that several of the links were associated with some of the biggest names in online poker such as Phil Hellmuth, Doyle Brunson, and Mike Caro.
What should a site owner do?
As was pointed out on the site How-to-Bet.com, playing a gambling type game online is legal, so web sites and web site visitors are not a legal risk when they place ads or follow those kinds of links online.
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to placing advertising for legal products and services. Whether a site owner wants to accept this kind of advertising will depend on several factors, including how an owner would answer the following questions:
- Would the links or the content be useful or entertaining for your audience?
- Do the links go to a site that is offering legal products or services?
- Do the links go to a site with content that is in conflict with your site's goals?
- Is the destination site associated with any controversy or suspicious business practice?
It will be interesting to see if Ellen's web site becomes the norm rather than the exception--a non-gambling web site with significant and prominent gambling content. If you want to join this club, take some time to think it over before you make a move.