As our loyal readers already know, I’ve got a special place in my heart for the online gambling affiliate industry because its where I come from. Managing advertising space on Online.CasinoCity.com and GPWA.org was my world from early 2005 to late 2009 and believe me, I know what its like to get screwed over by a rogue affiliate program.
I first learned of the Affiliate Edge dramas about one year ago, a shame as I have known the legacy management and former affiliate management team for years and have nothing but the best to say. Affiliates such as Dave Sawyer of Online Casino Reviewer, an affiliate who has been in the iGaming industry for 17 years, partnered with the Affiliate Edge team until management changed and everything with the program went completely sideways.
Sawyer explained how he was happily working with the Affiliate Edge (formerly known as Club World Casino) brands for ten years, but once the legacy management was pushed out, Sawyer and many others found themselves blindsided by predatory Ts&Cs.
To provide some background, in January 2017, the industry discovered the Affiliate Edge management was working closely with the “blacklisted” Casino Affiliate Program “AffPower” and shortly thereafter, details of a high profile court case concerning the Affiliate Edge management came to light. The case involved three brothers who shared ownership of Interactive Technology Corporation (the parent company of Affiliate Edge) and ended acrimoniously with the two older brothers retaining ownership of Affiliate Edge.
“They introduced retroactive player quota terms in February without informing any of their affiliate partners. Basically putting us down from our agreed percentage of revenue share down to 10% if we didn’t put through any players to the program”, shared Sawyer.
“Also, what occurred in February and March, there were lots of rumors that affiliates were suddenly seeing all their players’ activity ceasing, so there are strong rumors that Affiliate Edge, alongside AffPower, have been de-tagging players from multiple affiliate accounts”, he added.
When it comes to the legal action Sawyer is taking against the program- a first for the online gambling affiliate industry- it doesn’t concern the player de-tagging issue but focuses on the player inactive clause introduced in February. This new clause has been applied to Sawyer’s historical player base and he feels the move is “unfair and unjust”.
The current Affiliate Edge management believe their Curacao license protects them from the English Court system, but Sawyer begs to differ.
“In November Justice Morgan in the High Court said all these shell companies that [Interactive Technology Corporation (ITC)] hide behind, all the revenues end up in ITC’s bank account in the UK. The other thing they are hiding behind is clause 8.5 which allows them to alter the Terms and Conditions as and when they see fit without actually having to notify any of their affiliate partners”, Sawyer explained.
“We will see in the county court very soon whether this is actually the case and I’m very, very confident I will win this case and if I do, it will be a shot in the arm for all affiliates and will also be a shot across the bow for affiliate programs so they will think twice before making predatory retroactive changes to their Terms and Conditions”, he added.
Once Affiliate Edge learned of Sawyer’s intentions, the affiliate management team’s response was that his claims were “absolutely groundless” and said if he filed in an English Court that the case will be inadmissible and Sawyer be liable for their court costs.
“All I can say to them is, they really need to lawyer up because all I’ll be liable for is 200 pounds of their legal costs if I lose and I’m not going to lose. So its going to be quite interesting to see how this plays out”, said Sawyer.
As we cut through all the drama surrounding predatory affiliate program Ts&Cs and affiliate marketing misbehavior, what’s clear is we need tighter guidelines for the online gambling affiliate marketing industry in general within the UK and beyond. One of the ways to accomplish this is via the regulators or via industry associations such as the newly-formed “International Gaming Affiliate Association” with TAG Media’s Tom Galanis at its helm.
While I had Sawyer in the hot seat, I wanted to ask his opinion on the UKGC’s commitment to tighten up affiliate marketing guidelines in the UK, especially after what happened with Sky Bet and a recent decision to shut down their entire affiliate program.
Sawyer said he thinks tighter guidelines for affiliates are a good thing, but that it’s a two-way street.
“Obviously Sky Bet’s a special case in its own right because they introduced player quotas about 18 months ago, anyone standing back could see the end game would be them pulling their affiliate program. We’ve had correspondence from the likes of Bet365 and Casumo, etc, letting us know that they now operate on a zero tolerance policy in regards to advertising”, he said.
“[Affiliate programs] need to also police their affiliate networks that hack thousands of websites so they gain the search engines and also spamming as well. Will they do that? Time will tell”, Sawyer said.
“But I think for anyone in this industry full time, making a living out of it, they’ve got no problem complying with what they need to comply with. And to be honest, most of us were doing that already”, he added.