James Ashton from FindMyUKCasino.com says other markets should look to regulate and licence affiliates in order to improve standards
Lawmakers in the USA were absolutely right when they took the decision to require affiliates to apply for and obtain a licence in order send players to approved operators in each regulated state.
While this was and is a divisive issue, I believe it is the only way to ensure that affiliates are meeting the necessary safe gaming requirements and that they are operating responsibly.
In other regulated markets such as the UK, the onus remains on the operator to ensure their affiliate partners are playing by the rules with their licence at risk in the event of non-compliance.
This is a huge task for operators, and I would argue that it is almost impossible for them to effectively monitor and police all of the affiliates they work with.
It makes sense, then, to put the responsibility on the affiliate to meet the required standards and for them to suffer the consequences in the event they fall short.
Of course, there are other benefits to affiliates being licenced.
Affiliates have a clear rulebook to abide by
Regulating and licensing affiliates provides publishers with a clear set of rules and guidelines to follow, something that we don’t have in markets such as the UK.
While the Gambling Commission and the Advertising Standards Authority provide some guidance as to what is considered best practice, it is open to interpretation.
Licensing sets out clear requirements for affiliates to meet, and then on-going regulatory audits make sure they continue to meet these requirements moving forwards.
It would also encourage affiliates to innovate around safe gaming and responsible gambling. As all affiliates would have to meet these requirements, they could become a point of difference.
At FindMyUKCasino.com we are always looking at ways of improving how we protect players, but if we had clear standards to meet, we could then look to take this to the next level.
Only professional affiliates will be awarded a licence
By licensing affiliates, regulators can instantly weed out the bad actors to ensure those active in their market are professional, reputable and responsible.
This is simply not the case in regulated markets that do not licence affiliates – anyone can launch a website, partner with online casino and slot sites and start targeting players.
We have seen instances where affiliates have created content around “Online casinos not on Gamstop” which is hugely irresponsible and morally bankrupt.
Licensing benefits players first and foremost as they can access online casino comparison sites run by legitimate organisations and individuals, but there is a benefit to operators, too.
Because the affiliate has already been vetted and approved by the regulator, operators know they are partnering with a professional organisation that is serious about its role in player acquisition.
One of the affiliate managers we work with once told me that more than half of the sites they work with do not generate any new player sign-ups and FTDs.
For the operator, this is wasted time and resources that could instead be invested with genuine affiliate partners that are able to deliver the results both parties are seeking.
Improved relationship between operators and affiliates
Licensing improves the relationship between operators and affiliates; at present, compliance can be a key point of friction between both sides of the partnership.
Operators are rightly worried about the consequences of non-compliance and when an affiliate breaks the rules – whether intended or not – they often demand rapid resolution.
While professional affiliates go to great lengths to ensure compliance, and to rectify any issues without delay, not all publishers work in this way.
Licensing affiliates takes the responsibility away from the operator and puts it on the affiliate.
This in turn takes away any friction points around compliance and allows operator and affiliate to work more closely on other areas such as improving the way brand(s) are promoted across the site.
Brings all stakeholders together
By licensing affiliates, lawmakers and regulators ensure that all stakeholders are being held to the same standards and requirements, which in turn brings everyone together.
By working to the same rules, everyone knows what is expected of them when it comes to safe gaming and responsible gambling and ensuring that players are fully protected.
You are only as strong as your weakest link, and in markets where affiliates are not regulated those that do not operate responsibly are the chink in the armour.
While regulating and licensing affiliates will always be divisive, if you ask any professional gambling affiliate they will likely say it is something that is needed.
It is something the Find My UK Casino team welcomes as we believe it is the best way to protect players and to ensure that affiliates are working to the highest possible standards.