google maps casino spam

The battle between internet marketers and search-engine giants like Google will never stop.

In 2021 Google announced its 2021 Google Maps and Google Business Profile spam fighting efforts had more than 100 million Business Profile edits and protected over 100 thousand businesses from suspicious activity and abuse attempts.

History has shown us that gambling-industry marketers in particular will always try to exploit any available attack vector in order to get a foothold in Google’s search results – to rank for lucrative, high value search terms which can yield large financial payback.

The latest easy target for gambling spammers is Google Maps – where casino spammers are actively using a combination of fake reviews and fake business listings to spam google maps – hijacking traffic from legitimate destinations to direct consumers towards illegal offshore internet casinos.

Casino Affiliate Spammers Taking Top Positions On Google Maps

Online casino spammers are taking over top spots on Google Maps with fake listings
Our researchers have discovered that casino marketers are effectively “gaming” search engine results on Google for profit – which can be seen when performing searches for land-based casino properties in the US in a number of states (Alaska, Nevada, Maine, Georgia, Utah) – including states where online gambling is actually illegal.

spam on google maps promoting illegal casinos
Fig 1 Spam listings on google maps promoting illegal casinos with fake business listings & reviews – retrieved 20th November, 2022.

For a query like “Alaska Casinos”, one might reasonably expect to see only land-based, brick-and-mortar casinos at the top of Google’s Map search results – especially due to the company’s apparent focus on surfacing trustworthy sites for queries related to finance or health (“your money or your life” or YMYL).

Instead the top listings are FAKE.

Online gambling is not legal or regulated in the state of Alaska (in fact gambling on out-of-state or international casinos is illegal, even though some offshore US-facing gambling operators accept Alaska-based gamblers).

The expanded listings feature unmasked casino affiliate links, no business address & fake reviews. Also note the absence of a physical business location and the presence of a naked affiliate tracker link which leads to an online casino and sportsbook.

The spammers even took the time to gather hundreds of fake reviews in order to boost their credibility and chances of (spam) success.

The same thing is of course happening in other states in the USA on Google Maps, for example Utah and Georgia – another two US states where online gambling is prohibited by law.

Spam on Google Maps promoting illegal casinos in Utah
Fig 2: Google Maps Spam listings for the query “Utah Casinos”- Retrieved 20th November, 2022.

spam on google maps promoting illegal casinos for a Georgia Casinos query
Fig 3. Spam listings on Google Maps visible for the query “Georgia Casinos” – retrieved 20th November, 2022.

Google has claimed in the past that < 1% of all the content that is viewed on Maps was fraudulent or abusive.

David Burke

Reporter covering all aspects of sports, poker, regulation, iGaming business and gambling.