Facebook’s Ad Guidelines Now Permit Offline Gambling, Lotteries, and Dietary Supplements

Facebook today announced changes to its Ad Guidelines that permit advertising for several verticals that were previously prohibited. Offline gambling can be promoted, as can online gambling if ads are targeted outside of the US and have Facebook’s explicit consent.

Lottery commissions and legal dietary supplements may also be promoted with some restrictions. Ads for online pharmacies are prohibited unless they are certified and approved by Facebook

The changes will give a wider range of industries the opportunity to attain customers through Facebook highly targetable ads, and could generate more advertising revenue for the social network.

Facebook recently eased some of its promotion guidelines, removing prohibitions of contests, sweepstakes and other promotions of gambling and some other verticals. However, the continued prohibition of these industries in the Ad guidelines and Platform Policies restricted exactly what these promotions could include.

Now, Facebook has also eased its Ad Guidelines for some of these verticals, which could create significant new advertising opportunities for some industries. Below we’ll list the changed Ad Guidelines, and follow up with analysis exactly what has changed and how this impacts advertisers:


III. Ad Content

       E. Gambling and Lotteries

Ads that promote or facilitate online gambling, games of skill or lotteries, including online casino, sports books, bingo, or poker, are only allowed in specific countries with prior authorization from Facebook.

Lottery commissions licensed or sponsored by government entities may advertise on Facebook; provided that ads must be targeted in accordance with applicable law in the jurisdiction in which the ads will be served and may only target users in the jurisdiction in which the lottery is available.

Ads that promote offline gambling establishments, such as offline casinos, in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, are generally permitted, provided that ads must be appropriately targeted.

The most significant of the changes is the permission of ads for offline gambling without the need for consent from Facebook, as long as ads are targeted to users over the legal age of 18 within countries where gambling is permitted.

Gambling ads may only be purchased through a direct sales partnership with Facebook, which requires a monthly minimum spend of $30,000, and may not be purchased through the self-serve ads tool or  the Facebook Ads API.

Facebook previously permitted ads for online gambling with permission, but it has now clarified that these ads must be targeted outside the US in addition to having the site’s consent. These changes will allow casinos and other offline gaming establishments to target nearby Facebook users with ads in hopes of enticing them to visit in person, and may boost confidence in understanding of the policy for online gambling advertisers.

Unofficial lotteries are regulated by guidelines for online gambling, but government authorized or sponsored lottery commissions are governed by separate guidelines. As long as they comply with local laws, and only target those of age in their jurisdiction, they may advertise without explicit consent from Facebook. The ability for state lottery commissions to geo-target their Facebook ads by state could help them efficiently increase sales.

Online Pharmacies Dietary Supplements

III. Ad Content

       F. Pharmaceuticals and Supplements

Ads must not promote the sale of prescription pharmaceuticals. Ads for online pharmacies are prohibited except that ads for certified pharmacies may be permitted with prior approval from Facebook.

Ads that promote dietary and herbal supplements are generally permitted, provided they do not promote products containing anabolic steroids, chitosan, comfrey, dehydroepiandrosterne, ephedra, human growth hormones, melatonin, and any additional products deemed unsafe or questionable by Facebook in its sole discretion.

Online pharmacies were not expressly prohibited before, but the guidelines now state they must be certified and have pre-approval from Facebook to run ads. This may close an advertising channel for some businesses.

Previously, Facebook prohibited ads for all “uncertified pharmaceutical products”. Now those that are legal, available without a perscription, and that don’t contain any of the above ingredients may be advertised. Facebook does reserve the right to deem products unsafe and pull their ads, though.

Businesses selling legal dietary supplements, as popularized by the book “The Four-Hour Work Week”, may now serve ads to Facebook users. By targeting Precise Interests such as “weight lifting” or using Facebook’s new Topic targeting system to reach those who’ve Liked Pages related to #weight training, these businesses may be able fo find a wealth of new customers.

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