Joonas Karhu, chief business officer at online casino comparison site Bojoko, says that US affiliates must shoulder some of the responsibility when it comes to protecting players in New Jersey and beyond
The online casino affiliate ecosystem is still in its infancy in New Jersey and other states as legal, regulated igaming and sports betting continues to roll out across the country. In established markets across the world, affiliates are a huge driver of new player traffic and the same will certainly be true in the USA as the sector continues to mature.
But given the nascent nature of online casino affiliate marketing in New Jersey, the time is now to learn key lessons from markets such as Europe. Indeed, the affiliate ecosystem in the UK is coming under increasing strain as the regulator continues to put operators under more and more pressure when it comes to compliance.
In short, the UK Gambling Commission has said that operators are ultimately responsible for the content that their affiliate partners create and publish on their behalf. This has led some operators to close their affiliate programs entirely, while others have imposed strict guidelines to ensure they are playing by the rules.
But here at Bojoko we believe that affiliates must also shoulder some of the responsibility when it comes to protecting players. This is certainly the case in highly regulated markets such as New Jersey where player protection must be an absolute priority for all stakeholders.
So how can this be done? Most affiliates write and publish guides to online casino play, but the most important message must be about responsible gambling and the tools available to them. This should include the various deposit, loss, wager and session limits that players can set as well as how to set them.
It is also important to explain cooling off and self-exclusion and also mention the various charities and support groups that players can access if they do have a problem.
Online casino operators do this too, but affiliates can support this with their own efforts. It goes without saying that information on responsible gambling should be easy to access, perhaps on the footer of the website so that it is present on all pages.
Affiliates can also look to raise awareness among their readers by writing articles and interviews with responsible gambling experts and charities. Publishers have the power to engage a huge number of players and help operators deliver responsible gambling messaging to their readers. Affiliates can also take the initiative and provide their readers with additional tools that help them keep in control of their play or self-exclude if they need to.
Bojoko, for example, has teamed up with online gambling website and app blocker, gamban® to offer our readers the most powerful exclusion tool on the market. As part of this, we are able to give them a three-month free trail before the monthly subscription of £1 per device kicks in.
This may seem counter intuitive for an online casino affiliate site to allow readers to prevent themselves from playing at an online casino, but we see it as our responsibility to protect players. First and foremost, it is our duty to ensure our readers are happy and healthy, and secondly there are no business upsides to referring players with a gambling addiction.
In the UK and other established markets, we are seeing the relationship between operators and publishers start to turn cold over compliance issues. But by taking the lead and providing their readers with the information and tools they need to keep in control of their play, affiliates can reignite the mutually beneficial partnership. This is not only good for operators and publishers, but players also.
Affiliates operating in New Jersey and other US states should learn from the evolution of the affiliate ecosystem in mature markets and ensure they do the right thing from day one. Those that do, and shoulder some of the responsibility for protecting players, will be able to build a successful and sustainable business.