This is a guest contribution by James Ashton of Find My UK Casino. If you would like to submit a contribution please contact Bill Beatty for submission details. Thank you.
Q: What impact is the tightening of regulations having on online casino affiliates targeting the U.K. market?
A: For the first time, it makes it clear what online casino affiliates can and can’t do when it comes to engaging players and driving them to their sites. Certainly, the operators we work with have provided guidance as to what we must do when it comes to promoting bonus offers and in particular the terms and conditions they come with. We also know which brands will allow us to use email marketing and those that do not.
Of course, this has impacted more established online casino affiliates that were perhaps used to having greater freedom over the content they could publish and the tactics they could use to target players and bring them to their sites. Ultimately, I believe regulation is a good thing as it ensures that online casino affiliates are operating to the highest possible standards and that players are properly protected.
That said, operating an online casino affiliate site in this new era of regulation and compliance takes serious dedication and hard work. Gone are the days when you could launch a site and then sit back as the visitors – and revenues – poured in.
Q: What can affiliates do, alongside operators and regulators, to help overcome these challenges?
A: They must adopt a regulation and compliance mindset. Publishers must carefully consider the tactics they are using to engage players and whether they are within the rules set by operators and indeed the regulator in the market they are targeting. This means working closely with operators to ensure content, design, promotions and so on are fully compliant. For example, we allow our operator partners to fact and compliance-check content before we publish.
Operators can help affiliates by creating compliance guides that clearly outline what they expect of their publisher partners and what they can and can’t do. These guides should also include examples of how bonus offers should be presented and where information about, and links to, terms and conditions should be included. Some operators already do this, but others don’t. For us, these guides have been hugely helpful.
Generally, I think it would be great for regulators such as the UK Gambling Commission, operators and affiliates to have a more open line of communication in order to discuss how we can all work more closely together to improve compliance and ultimately better protect players.
Q: What role should affiliates play when it comes to responsible gambling and protecting players? Are they doing enough?
A: Affiliates need to play their part in the education process, telling their readers what responsible gambling looks like and the tools offered by online casinos to help them remain in control of their play. To do this, they should create guides and articles around the various aspects of responsible gambling. They should also clearly display links to gambling support and addiction charities at the bottom of every single page.
For affiliates, responsible gambling should be the way in which they work. It should be the foundation of everything they do. This includes only recommending licensed online casinos, taking a cautious approach to pushing bonus offers and incentives to readers, educating players and providing them with advice and support on how to gamble responsibly and stay in control of their play. But not everyone is currently doing this.
Some online casino affiliates are creating pages around “Online casinos not on GamStop”. This is absolutely abhorrent and shocking and completely undoes the hard work being undertaken by regulators, operators and publishers to do all they can to allow consumers to enjoy gambling online but in a way that is safe.
Q: Why did you decide to target the U.K. market given the tight regulations and fierce competition?
A: The U.K. market is one of the most established and competitive, so we were drawn to the challenge of launching an online casino affiliate site here. The way we see it, if we can succeed in the U.K. then we can succeed anywhere and, in the future, plan to expand our reach into other regulated markets around the world. But by launching and learning in the U.K., we can fine-tune our offering and make sure it meets the highest possible standards.
Q: What opportunities have you identified and what are you doing to ensure that you stand out from the crowd?
A: We saw an opportunity to bring something fresh and exciting to the U.K. online casino market. Find My UK Casino is not like traditional affiliate sites – we have moved away from simply listing online casino brands and instead offer a comprehensive library of guides, features, interviews and more. Sure, we have standard pages such as new online casinos but we also offer insightful explainers such as online casinos and your data.
By focusing on creating a huge catalogue of content that engages, educates and entertains, we believe we can become the go-to destination for online casino players in the U.K. looking to discover the most reputable and trusted brands available to them and to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes at their favourite online casino sites. And with new brands launching all the time, we see plenty of opportunity to grow our offering and community.
Q: Will affiliates continue to play a significant role in driving growth in the U.K. market in the long-term? Why?
A: Yes, but to not only survive but thrive in this new world of regulation and compliance, publishers must change their approach and how they work. Responsible gambling must be the foundation and pillar of an online casino affiliate, and while this means more work and effort in the immediate future, it is the only way to create a sustainable and successful business that will stand the test of time. Ultimately, regulation, compliance and responsibility will allow the best to rise to the top.
About the author
James Ashton is the head of content at online casino comparison site, FindMyUKCasino.com. He has spent the past five years writing about all aspects of the global online gambling industry.