Corona-related affiliate marketing earns ire of operators, regulators


coronavirus-online-gambling-affiliate-marketingOnline gambling may be a safer option than visiting a casino (assuming you can find one that’s still open) in these pandemic times, but claiming so in public is increasingly seen as a social responsibility no-no.

On Friday, affiliate marketing partners of UK-listed gambling giant Flutter Entertainment reported receiving emails from the company instructing them in no uncertain terms that making any reference to the COVID-19 coronavirus while pitching Flutter’s brands would result in the immediate suspension of Flutter’s relationship with the offending affiliate.

Flutter’s “zero tolerance” policy towards virus-related marketing has been echoed by Nordic online gambling operator Kindred Group, the parent company of the Unibet betting brand. The operators were reportedly forced to act after at least one affiliate pitched customers on the benefits of gambling with a “coronavirus safe casino.”

Meanwhile, the Netherlands gambling regulator, which earlier this week warned both online and land-based gambling operators about pitching ‘corona-free’ products, has now added some financial bite to that regulatory bark.

On Thursday, the Kansselautoriteit (KSA) regulatory agency announced that online gambling operators and affiliates who reference the coronavirus in their marketing pitches to Dutch punters will face financial penalties of €50k on top of the existing €200k penalty for serving Dutch customers before the country’s regulated online gambling market makes its long-delayed debut.

The KSA emphasized that this €50k top-up was merely a starting point, and additional sanctions could be imposed depending on “the nature and amount” of the virus-related pitches.

The pandemic will prove costly to all gambling operators, regardless of their marketing approaches. H2 Gambling Capital, which earlier this month projected that global gambling revenue could fall 8% in 2020 due to the COVID-19 impact, has now downgraded that estimate to 11% and warned that this would likely increase to 12.5% as the pandemic continues its spread.

Searching desperately for an upside, the data intelligence specialists estimate that online gambling’s share of the overall global gambling pie will rise to 16% this year, three points higher than before the outbreak commenced in earnest. Just don’t tell anybody.