October 14, 2018 by

Affiliates Move into Online Sportsbooks

A groundbreaking panel discussion about affiliates in the online gaming industry was held at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas.  The panel discussed the impact of affiliates on the online gaming industry.  The long, formal title of the panel was “Affiliate Marketing Grows Up: Implications for the Regulated U.S. Online Gambling Market”.


Sports Betting and Affiliates

The impetus for the panel was the decision of the United States Supreme Court to unshackle the 46 states that were prevented by the law called the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act or PASPA.  In May of this year the high court said that PASPA failed to reach the requirements for a permissible law under the US constitution.

That meant that the 46 states that had been excluded in 1992 by PASPA were now free to allow sports betting within their jurisdiction.  What had been largely a federal matter was now a states’ matter.

This means that many people will go to the internet for information about newly legal sports betting in the several states.  In most cases, the googler will reach what is called an affiliate.  These sites are not the sports book or the online casino that the person had sought but rather a conduit that sends people to the sites it works with.

A Vital Arm of a Vertical Industry

Affiliates (like Slots Play Casinos) serve a very important function in the online casino market and will likely serve a very important function in the burgeoning online sports book market.  In the online casino market, there are thousands of online casinos.  No gamer could possibly try out every one in order to find the casino best suited to their needs.  The role of the affiliate has been to report on new games, new bonuses and bonus codes, new gaming platforms, contests, promotions, and the like.

In this way, the online casino market could be better accessed by players.

Panel Discussion

The panel moderator stated that in the earliest days, the online casino market was one of the two most prominent “verticals”, meaning a specialized market in which the products and services were geared to a highly specific cohort (the other was pornography).   

People looking for a reputable and safe online casino usually landed at an affiliate.  The same is the case today and it is even more important now than it was then because of the massive increase in the number of online casinos, bonus packages, playing platforms, promotions, banking services and many others.

Panelist Chris Grove, Catena Media Acting Director U.S., a prominent figure on the affiliate side of the issue, said that: “What we say on the affiliate side is that we basically build bridges that operators either can’t build or won’t.”

Wisdom in a Small Package

In this short sentence, Grove made two vital statements that taken together explain a lot about the affiliate world as it applies to the online casino market and now the online sports betting market. 

Affiliates are a bridge between the potential customer and the destination, be it an online casino, an online sports book, or an online manufacturer of face brushes.  The destination site has to concentrate its efforts on making its products the best they can be in order to grow the company and retain market share.  Affiliates do many things that the destination site simply can’t do or won’t invest the necessary time, human resources, and money to do.

What Affiliates Do That Operators Don’t Do

Grove mentioned a few reasons why the statement quoted above was true in his mind:

  • Affiliates are independent and as such can offer information that would be odd or unacceptable coming from the operator.
  • Affiliates can point out industry failings such as inefficiencies and other areas where operators need to improve.
  • Affiliates are in the business of finding new customers whereas the operators are in the business of offering the best possible product in order to gain and retain customers.

An example of information that an affiliate can offer that an operator cannot offer is in the area of banking.  It would be unseemly for an online casino to brag about fast withdrawals but the affiliate can do so easily.  Similarly, a casino could never tell gamers to avoid a given rival casino but an affiliate can and must make such statements when they are appropriate.

As to the third point above, affiliates send potential new gamers to casinos.  When a gamer joins a casino, he or she no longer need the affiliate; they simply log onto the casino with their account code.  When a potential new gamer reaches an online casino, it becomes the job of the casino to offer enough excellent gaming as to get the player to sign up.  In the same vein, the casino has to provide the best gaming in order to keep the customer satisfied.  If the gamer leaves the casino, it is always the fault of the casino, not of the affiliate.

Sports Betting and Affiliates

When online casinos first entered the gaming market, the market was dominated by land based casinos.  The online casinos needed affiliates as bridges to get the word out that there were online casinos offering great gaming.

In some jurisdictions, it was illegal to advertise on billboards, on radio, or television.  So, the casinos desperately needed affiliates to further their marketing efforts.  However, the affiliate side of the online casino market was also in its infancy and affiliates also made mistakes.  In the worst cases, mistakes by affiliates buried the affiliate site deep within any google search thus defeating the purpose of the affiliate altogether.

Affiliates are now far more sophisticated and adept at their side of the business than they were twenty years ago.  We can expect to be sent first to an affiliate as we look for sports books and then to the sports books themselves in a smooth going sequence where we see the affiliate conduit as performing a vital service for us.