Catena Media buy PokerScout; Belgium affiliates on death watch


catena-media-acquire-pokerscout-affiliateOnline gambling mega-affiliate Catena Media has acquired the US-facing affiliate operations of

On Thursday, the Malta-based Catena announced that it had paid $350k to acquire PokerScout, which will “contribute to Catena Media’s brand-first strategy in both the US and global markets.” Catena plans to improve PokerScout’s “usability and visibility” in order to build on Catena’s existing portfolio in New Jersey’s regulated online gambling market.

Many industry observers expressed surprise at the lowball price Catena paid for PokerScout, although perhaps the site’s previous owner was in a cash crunch after his latest operator shakedown attempt came to naught. Hopefully some of the improvements Catena has planned for the site include no longer ‘guestimating’ some sites’ traffic volumes.

Catena has been on an acquisition tear this year as the online affiliate market undergoes the same type of consolidation fever that has seen so many UK online gambling operators marching down the M&A aisle. Catena had already spent around £60m on acquisitions this year before adding PokerScout’s scalp to its lodge pole.

Catena rival Better Collective has also been a hungry, hungry hippo on the acquisition front, striking six different deals just this summer. This week, Better Collective grew a little larger by securing a Romanian affiliate license and acquiring local affiliate PariuriX, a 10-year veteran of Romania’s market.

Meanwhile, affiliates are fighting for their lives in Belgium, following that country’s plans to further tighten its already restrictive online gambling market. Among the proposed changes are restricting Belgian-licensed operators from advertising anywhere other than on their own website or via email promos.

The changes, which are expected to take effect by Q3 2018, would effectively preclude all local affiliate activity and will obviously impact operator revenue, as well. Speaking at this week’s EiG 2017 conference in Berlin, Klaeser Avocat attorney Tatiana Klaeser hinted that the new legislation was drafted by Belgium’s National Lottery as a means of hobbling its online competitors.

All told, between affiliate minnows being swallowed by bigger fish, operators opportunistically seizing on some bad publicity to scrap their affiliate programs, other operators putting affiliates on “1 strike” notice and certain countries outlawing affiliates entirely, it’s worth repeating the question: are gambling affiliates F’d?