There is no getting around the fact that the world is experiencing a new wave of regulation. Numerous jurisdictions around the world are attempting to regulate online gambling, including significant portions of the United States and Latin America, as well as Germany, Europe’s most economically powerful nation.
At the same time, established markets such as the United Kingdom and Sweden are updating existing legislation and expediting additional industry restrictions. This is happening all at once.
Many industry sub-sectors have already adapted to this strategy, with operators and suppliers beefing up their compliance teams in anticipation of, or in response to, tougher licensing, advertising restrictions, and stricter player protection measures, or even when forced to, to deal with multi-million-pound fines.
Affiliates, on the other hand, are one industry that has not been required to make compliance or licensing investments (except for publicly traded entities). Since the first bedroom pioneers realized that traffic could be monetized, we’ve had a free reign in general, and it doesn’t matter where that traffic came from; this applies to all of them.
After twenty years, the focus has shifted from dot.com to dot. country, with a push for higher standards and a focus on player safety and responsible gaming. This has resulted in a dramatic shift in the landscape, ensuring that almost every licensed aspect of the industry is accountable for its actions.
We were not subject to any obligations of this kind until very recently; however, as more nations, such as the United States, choose to license affiliates and others, such as the United Kingdom, are now exploring the idea, there is a growing consensus that this is the sector’s inevitable path.
The proof, as they say, will be in the eating, but there appears to be a lot to gain, and a significant portion of our population is in favor of it. We can attest to this from personal experience, as we went through the process of obtaining US licenses in five different states and were successful.
Furthermore, we recently joined Responsible Affiliates in Gambling (RAiG), an organization whose mission is to encourage wider initiatives in the United Kingdom affiliate industry to promote social responsibility and make the gambling environment safer for customers.
This messaging is critical, and it is completely consistent with the change that is being observed in many of the world’s most important regulated markets. You only need to read the specifics of the recent reports produced by the APPG and the House of Lords to see that several measures will soon be put in place to ensure that players are afforded an even higher level of protection.
Many of us have already begun self-regulation on our initiative. However, to further professionalize and standardize our industry, many of our affiliates, including ourselves, believe that the correct, and arguably the only, way to do so is to outline and implement minimum requirements through some form of licensing or registration procedure. We are not alone in holding this opinion.
Some people will be concerned that obtaining a license will incur additional up-front costs and long-term investments, or that it will necessitate a voluminous amount of paperwork that will consume additional time and resources. However, as Craig points out, the goal of this approach is simply to supplement the extensive number of regulations that are already in place. Furthermore, such a system does not have to be prohibitively expensive or burdensome. Consider the GB Gambling Commission’s direct licensing of third-party suppliers, the provision of approved lists of providers of alternative dispute resolution services, and the establishment of software testing houses as evidence of the success of this strategy.
The more businesses that have been registered, vetted and licensed in a given market, whether they are brands, content aggregators, or casino comparison sites, the more transparent, visible, and safe the jurisdiction is for both authorities and players. When this is combined with common sense regulation, you have a tried and tested model.
For those concerned about red tape, anyone who has ever signed up for an affiliate program in the United Kingdom knows that the process is very similar to applying for a license. A variety of details, such as the company, its ultimate beneficiary, or UBO, and its marketing channels, must be provided.
If our affiliates are licensed, we are not only accountable for our actions, but we are also in complete control of our destiny, with certifiable proof that our products and services are fully compliant – the best of the best.
Positive effects can also be seen as they spread. We are dependable and trustworthy suppliers who are highly recommended by our peers. We have seen an increase in regulated revenue generation and acceptance into mainstream business, as we have seen with other affiliate groups in recent years. At the same time, our community’s standards are improving and our reputation is growing, in line with the growth of other licensed gaming stakeholders.
The burden imposed on operator partners is also significantly reduced as a result of the positive effects brought about by licensing. The operator compliance teams are currently working at breakneck speed. When they are not busy shutting down the affiliate channel, they micromanage all of the content published on their sites and impose stringent requirements (which often conflict with other operators).
A collaboration with a licensed affiliate would eliminate all of these possibilities, ensuring that the company only works with trustworthy sources that adhere to the stringent requirements imposed by the regulatory framework governing affiliate programs.
The playing field has been leveled
Although we are still in the early stages of discussing affiliate licensing, we believe the time has come. Because our industry sector has been operating on its own for far too long, without unified standards or regulatory oversight, we must be held to the same levels of accountability and responsibility as our partners.
“The goal must be to work with all stakeholders to ensure that any provisions (around licensing) are proportionate and, most importantly, effective in improving consumer safeguards,” says Clive Hawkswood, chairman of Craig, and he is completely correct.
We can change the course of our future if we obtain licenses and speak with a unified voice through organizations like Craig, and if we share our insights, experiences, and data across all elements and fields of expertise. To everyone’s advantage. Some people will find it difficult to adjust to this shift in mindset, but we are confident that those who refuse to adjust, are resistant to change, or continue to operate in the shadows of black markets will fade from public view.
Fintan Costello, the company’s Managing Director, is in charge of BonusFinder.com. 2019 company founded with the simple goal of allowing customers to “Play with more” at their preferred casino or sportsbook. Thanks to the tools that BonusFinder.com has developed, players of all skill levels can find the ideal bonus that corresponds to their playing style. BonusFinder operates in several European markets and has affiliate licenses in five different states in the United States.