Online gambling companies are no longer allowing their affiliates to place ads on websites that traffic in stolen content or facilitate theft of intellectual property.

This change comes as a result of a partnership between London Police and the UK Gambling Commission designed to cut off a key funding source for illicit file-sharing websites.

Illegal downloading sites no longer a place for online gambling affiliates.

UK-licensed gambling sites were commended this week by police for stepping up their efforts to cease advertising with sites that promote piracy. (Image: DeviantArt)

Dubbed Operation Creative by London’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), this crackdown is an effort to financially squeeze web operations that flout copyright laws, or provide access to illegal downloads of pirated films, music and video games.

“You must ensure that you do not place digital advertisements on websites providing unauthorized access to copyrighted content and must take all reasonable steps to ensure that third parties with whom you contract do similar,” states the directive.

The effort has already succeeded in slashing the ability of these sites from making money as online casino, sports betting, and poker affiliates. The number of illegal file transfer sites making money from online gambling ad revenue has dropped by 87 percent since the cooperative effort began less than a year ago, police said this week.

“The success of a strong relationship built between PIPCU and the Gambling Commission can be seen by these figures. This is a fantastic example of a joint working initiative between police and an industry regulator,” said PIPCU Acting Detective Superintendent Peter Ratcliffe.

Keeping Crime Out of Gambling

While police are interested in protecting the intellectual property rights of the entertainment industry, UKGC is interested in protecting the reputation of British gambling operations. And as such, anything that limits association with disreputable businesses is important to them.

In October 2016, the UKGC issued a directive regarding the “responsible placement of digital ads,” requiring the licensee to make sure their brand isn’t appearing on nefarious websites.

One condition of getting a British gaming license is the underlying promise that as a licensee, you will do your part to keep crime out of gambling.

The anti-piracy initiative encourages gambling companies to sign up for access to PIPCU’s “Infringing Website List.” The IWL is a continuously updated online database tagging websites employing unacceptable practices, and helps operators avoid inadvertently attaching their brand to potentially criminal enterprises.

Gaming Companies Join the Fight

Police investigators say they are working in tandem with the UKGC to protect the UK’s creative industries, and praised the gambling industry’s cooperation.

More than 40 online gambling companies are already using the IWL. Ratcliffe said he’ll continue to encourage all UK advertisers to become members and use their access to the list to prevent them from inadvertently funding “criminal websites.”

“Partnership work is clearly having a major impact on IP crime across the UK,” said Tim Moss, chief executive of the UK’s Intellectual Property Office. “PIPCU and the Gambling Commission have cut off yet another illicit revenue stream for unscrupulous IP thieves.”

Moss added, “The government and its partners will continue to fight IP crime in all its forms. Those wishing to profit from the hard work of others will not have an easy ride.”