Shortly after Black Friday, Sportsbook.com, PlayersOnly.com and Superbook.com announced that they would no longer accept any new US players. But over the following weeks and months, many US players reported having no difficulty opening new accounts with these Jazette/Domain Holding sportsbooks. This led us to speculate that Sportsbook.com et al were simply acknowledging that, at present, they lacked the eCom capacity to handle any serious influx of new business, and thus saw no justification for paying to acquire it. Even without a marketing push, they would still garner a trickle of new business via organic search. Between that and keeping their existing player base happy, they’d earn enough to keep the lights on.
Then, on Aug. 8 (Monday), over three months since Sportsbook.com made its “we’re outta Dodge” statement, its principal affiliate program officially stopped accepting new player registrations. Commission Account announced the “important changes” in a notice to affiliates last week.
It’s not been a good year for affiliate programs (nor affiliates). Similar moves at BetUS and Nine/VIP have left many affiliates fuming. There’s talk of slow pays, no pays, and the word ‘shaving’ gets bandied about a lot. This most recent announcement took pains to state that “all other aspects of the CommissionAccount.com website will continue to function as normal and all reporting of existing players will be updated as usual.”
But for how long? For a company in belt-tightening mode (Sportsbook.com), a subsidiary that serves only to administer outgoing payments to affiliates is a pure cost center. And the Commission Account notice guarantees only that its own website won’t suddenly go black. (Which reminds us… It’s been a while since we changed the wallpaper on our MySpace page.)
Some are taking Commission Account’s announcement as proof that, this time, Sportsbook.com is serious about not taking any new US players. Perhaps principals at the company are looking over their shoulders a bit, looking to minimize the possibility that some new US signup might have a DoJ day job. Although, as legal documents made public following Black Friday and Blue Monday made all too clear, the fox is likely already inside your henhouse, and may have been there for years now.
Anyway, we were still weighing what to make of this when a very recent Sportsbook.com chat transcript caught our eye. Asked directly for confirmation that the company was accepting new US players, a Sportsbook rep confirmed that they were, and helpfully provided a link to a signup page on which the ‘country’ list included the US of A.
They put their sportsbook in. They pull their sportsbook out. They put their sportsbook in and they shake it all about. To the untrained eye, it must look chaotic. But to keen business minds like our own, we recognize that Sportsbook.com are using the hokey pokey as the wedge of an elaborate viral marketing campaign. And look at us, falling for it. It’s almost like the good ole days when Aaron Gould claimed to be Sportsbook.com’s CEO/COO/WTF, and he was completely full of… brilliant strategies like this. Take it away, Aaron!