James Ashton, Head of Content at FindMyUKCasino.com, says the state-by-state roll-out of online gambling in the USA provides a blueprint for affiliates seeking international expansion
The state-by-state roll-out of online gambling in the USA has undoubtedly frustrated some. It has created a patchwork market where different states have different rules to follow, different licences to obtain and different products that can be offered to players.
This has caused no end of headaches for operators, suppliers and affiliates looking to leverage the huge potential legal and licensed online gambling in the USA has to offer. It means taking a tailored approach to each state and delivering a highly localized product to players. This is a massive undertaking and requires absolute commitment to pull off successfully.
But I believe this state-by-state approach is actually the best blueprint for operators, suppliers and particularly affiliates looking to enter markets inside and outside of the USA.
Why? Because tailoring and localizing online gambling products and services to individual states and markets delivers the best possible player experience. This is particularly important for online gambling affiliates targeting players in America and beyond as operators now require quality traffic from specific geographical regions.
Take New Jersey, for example. An online casino affiliate working with operators in the Garden State must ensure the traffic they attract and refer is located in the state. If they are not located in New Jersey when they decide to sign-up and play, the operator’s geolocation systems will recognize this and block access to its site.
For the affiliate, this is a wasted click through and while this can happen from time to time, it is something publishers want to mitigate as much as possible.
So, what can affiliates do to ensure they are targeting and attracting players in specific regions, both inside and outside of the USA?
The first thing to consider is the name of the affiliate site, and whether the market being targeted can be incorporated into it. We have already seen several USA-facing affiliate sites adopt this approach, and it is something we have done with Find My UK Casino.
It ensures that visitors know the site is focused on online gambling in that particular market, so for us it is online casinos that hold a UK Gambling Commission licence. Some affiliates will use a more generic brand name which is absolutely fine, but they must have pages dedicated to each of the states/markets they are targeting.
The most important thing for affiliates when it comes to targeting players in specific states or markets is to localize the content they publish. For a sports betting affiliate, this could mean creating articles, features and betting guides around teams based in that particular state.
For online casino affiliates, it could mean creating explainer features about the games that are popular in that state or country. In the UK, for example, Big Time Gaming’s Megaways slots dominate online casino lobbies so we have created a detailed feature explaining what Megaways slots are and how they work.
It must be remembered that the majority of affiliates identify key search terms and phrases and create content around them in order to rank and drive traffic to their sites. So instead of creating content around “Best online sportsbook USA” create content around “Best online sportsbook NJ”.
This ensures the affiliate site ranks for relevant terms based on the jurisdiction it is targeting and that the people clicking through are able to access relevant information.
This is an obvious one, but affiliates should only partner with online gambling operators that can accept players from the market they are targeting. This is easy for affiliates that have incorporated the market they are targeting in their name and branding, but can be a little more difficult for those with more generic branding.
Again, this is why these publishers should create a dedicated page for each state/market and only feature the operators that are licensed and regulated in that jurisdiction.
So why is this the best approach for online gambling affiliates looking to enter new states in the USA or markets around the world? In the past the global online gambling industry has been predominantly grey with affiliates able to attract traffic and refer players from all over the world.
But with vast swathes of the regulatory map turning from grey to white, operators and affiliates are having to filter traffic and only accept players from countries where they hold a licence.
Of course, this is exactly what is happening in the USA and affiliates looking to capitalise on the opening up of one of the largest markets in the world are having to adapt their model and approach. The state-by-state roll-out of online gambling in the USA may have frustrated some, but I believe it stands as a formula for how affiliates can drive expansion not only in America but internationally.