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Is Online Gambling Really Recession-Proof?

Despite the current financial crisis, the online gambling market continues to grow. With increasing fuel costs, cheap broadband and a smoking ban in all licensed premises in the UK, it seems gamblers are leaving the gas guzzlers in the garage and playing online poker or placing bets on sporting events from the comfort of their own home.

Sportingbet, the online gambling site has reported no signs of a slow down due to the credit crunch, as more and more people have a flutter on their computers.

The website operator reported a 30 per cent increase in revenues during August and September, and recent trading is even stronger. It said it had seen no evidence of negative impact on business from recent events in financial markets. Shares in the company have rose 7.4 per cent to 29p.

William Hill, the second biggest bookmakers in the UK recently bought up online gambling software provider PlayTech and claims to have transformed itself into Europe’s leading online gaming and sports betting business.

The Sunday Mercury reported recently that Midlanders spent 55 million pounds more on lottery tickets in 2008, as gamblers hope to beat the credit crunch and scoop a tidy sum.

It’s certainly helping Google out

Last month saw Google, the world’s number one search engine, reverse its policy on displaying gambling related advertising. In 2007 Google introduced a blanket ban on all forms of gambling-related advertising, including play-for-fun sites. Now gambling advertisers have been briefed on the new system, which allows for terms such as “poker” and “online gambling” to have paid advertisements included in their search results.

Now gambling-related ads will be displayed to users in the UK, although they will be subject to Google’s “safe search” filters, and that the ads will only appear in search results, and not Google’s content network.

The changes will only be applied in Great Britain, while the rest of the world will still not be seeing adverts for gambling in their search results. Great Britain is seen as a gambling-friendly nation. Some think Google’s U-Turn has less to do with cultural sensitivity and more to do with trying to preserve their revenue stream in tough times.

So what with traditional high street bookmakers like William Hill suddenly trying to get a slice of the online gambling market, and Google opening the floodgates for online gambling advertisers, the UK is the online gambling capital of the world. Google will carry on forbidding gambling advertising for the rest of the world, as some claim the UK is being used as guinea pigs.

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