As more and more international markets embrace regulation and licensing, online casino and sports betting affiliates are going to have to prioritise safer and responsible gambling.
Ultimately, igaming affiliates will have to be licensed – as we are seeing in the USA – and this will ensure that only the most reputable publishers are able to work with operators.
I welcome affiliate licensing, but currently at Mr Gamble we only have to obtain a licence in one of the geos we target – the USA and states such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
But that doesn’t mean affiliates shouldn’t take a responsible approach in the other geos they target, and in the way they market to players and promote the online gambling brands they work with.
Where should affiliates look for direction?
I believe that the UK sets the highest standards when it comes to responsible gambling, even though it does not require affiliates to obtain a licence to target players in the country.
What it does do is place stringent requirements on operators as to how the affiliates they work with promote their brands to consumers and players.
We have used the British Gambling Commission’s requirements as the basis for our own approach as we believe it ensures players are properly protected even before they click to play at a casino.
The requirements includes:
- Publishing guides to responsible gambling and safe gaming
- Displaying significant and full terms and conditions for bonus offers
- Creating user reviews for full transparency of what to expect at a casino
- Providing direct access to BeGambleAware from all pages and bonus offers
This allows us to be certain that our members and site visitors know how to stay in control of their play and have access to help and support if they start to play outside of their means.
So, what should other affiliates be doing?
Once customers leave our site it is down to the operator to do their part, and this is where affiliates need to take another step to protect players – they must do their due diligence on their partners.
The due diligence should include spending several hours researching an online casino before it is reviewed, added to an affiliate’s sites and then promoted to players. This is to ensure that the operator meets the highest possible standards in terms of the player experience offered, and also in terms of responsible gambling and safe gaming.
If an online casino does not appear to be taking the right approach, affiliates should simply not list it on their sites. Although this may negatively impact them commercially, it is the responsible thing to do.
Affiliates should also consider how the operator works with them when it comes to responsible gambling and whether they are willing to help improve their processes and protocols.
In our experience, some do but most don’t as they believe the protections they have in place on their gambling sites are enough to keep players gambling responsibly. In most cases they are, but I believe that affiliates can do more and that by introducing affiliate licences publishers would have a much clearer idea of the rules they must meet and play by.
At the moment, the risk still lies with the operator. If an affiliate behaves irresponsibly, they suffer little in the way of consequences. The operator, on the other hand, could lose their licence.
What can be done to drive change in the future?
The UK Gambling Act is currently under review and I would encourage the wider industry to push for the licensing of affiliates to be considered as part of any changes that are made.
This is what is happening in other markets such as the USA and it is proving to be hugely effective at driving bad actors out of the market and only permitting professional affiliates.
By having a set of clear standards to work to, affiliates can align their efforts with the steps operators are taking when it comes to safe gaming. Licensing will also remove any rogue affiliates from the market, ensuring the comparison sites that players visit are only promoting licensed brands and in a responsible manner.
There are upsides for the affiliate, too. Not only are players properly protected, which is what we want, but our businesses become more sustainable and successful as a result. That means licensing – and taking the right approach to responsible gambling – is a win-win for affiliates and their operator partners.