YouTube Puts a Stop to Gambling Masthead Ads With Latest Ban

  • YouTube is also banning alcohol, prescription drugs, politics-related content from the masthead
  • Ads for casino games, online gambling, and sports betting are no longer allowed since June 14
  • YouTube already allows users to opt-out of seeing gambling-related advertisements
  • Gambling advertising is a controversial topic, with some countries banning these types of ads
hand holding YouTube logo against red background
YouTube’s masthead will no longer feature gambling-related adverts following a recently announced ban by the Google-owned company. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A significant change

YouTube is banning a number of different types of advertisers from utilizing one of the main homepage positions. The Google-owned video streaming company revealed on Monday that it will no longer allow gambling, prescription drugs, alcohol, and politics-related ads on the masthead.

The change came into effect on the same day as the announcement, eliminating masthead adverts for the likes of casino games, online gambling, and sports betting.

The masthead is the highly visible banner at the top of YouTube’s website and apps. It is often the most sought-after and expensive ad placement on YouTube, being one of the first things that a user will see.

Speaking to CNN Business, a Google spokesperson said: “We believe this update will build on changes we made last year to the masthead reservation process and will lead to a better experience for users.”

Reacting to criticism

This is the latest change YouTube is making to its masthead rules. Last November, it stopped advertisers from being able to reserve a spot for an entire day. It also gave users the ability to stop seeing ads that relate to sensitive topics like gambling.

YouTube has come in for a lot of criticism over the past few years, particularly when it comes to sensitive content, the spreading of misinformation, and the promotion of hate speech. Along with Twitter and Facebook, YouTube agreed last year to submit to an external audit of its harmful content policies. This was on the back of pressure from significant advertisers.

YouTube has since been looking at cracking down hard on any errant content. For example, it took a tough stance during the COVID-19 pandemic against content that was spreading misinformation about the virus.

A controversial topic

Gambling advertising is a very controversial topic around the world. People across many countries are regularly exposed to pro-gambling messages in both an offline and online setting. Potential audiences include underage individuals and problem gamblers.

Italy has a complete ban on gambling advertising

Some nations have cracked down significantly on the marketing activities of gambling operators. Italy has a complete ban on gambling advertising in place. Other countries, such as Spain, have been introducing significant curtailments in an attempt to minimize the exposure of at-risk people to pro-gambling messages.

In the UK, gambling advertising is a hot topic as part of the government’s ongoing review of key gambling legislation. One main area of debate is whether or not gambling companies should be able to sponsor sports teams, athletes, and competitions in the region.