Tero Päivärinta: the realities of securing a US affiliate license

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Tero Päivärinta, Head of Accounts at Mr-Gamble, lifts the lid on what is it like to enter the US market and why online casino provides just as much opportunity as sports betting

Online casino is set to be huge in the USA and while most of the attention is given to sports betting, I believe casino will be just as big if not bigger. The sector is already off to a strong start, and as more players learn that online casino is legal, rapid growth will be seen as free play customers switch over to real money.

Casino also provides operators with a more stable revenue stream; sports betting is subject to incredible volatility whereas casino revenues are more predictable. This opportunity has caught the eye of affiliates in Europe, with Mr-Gamble among a growing number that have entered the New Jersey market after securing a license from the regulator.

But what is the licensing process really like and is the market really open to all affiliates or are the barriers to entry too high for smaller businesses with limited resources? Below, I share our experience of securing a license from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement and how that compares to the process in other states.

New Jersey is open to all affiliates:

So long as you are applying for a CPA affiliate license, the process in New Jersey is fairly straightforward and mostly involves filling out forms and ticking boxes. The regulator then assesses your application form to ascertain suitability. They also require your site and content to be live, but you are not allowed to onboard casino brands until approved.

We employed a lawyer to assist with our application which ensured the process was smooth and seamless. From start to finish, it took no longer than two months. It was not cost prohibitive, either. Had we not used a lawyer to assist with our application it would have cost around $4,000 which makes New Jersey open to affiliates of all sizes.

Additional states present additional hurdles:

Now live in New Jersey, we are looking to launch Mr-Gamble into additional states with  Pennsylvania next on our priority list. We took the decision to handle license applications internally moving forwards as we wanted to fully understand the process and also to streamline costs.

Our plan is to launch into every regulated US state so this would have seen us incur significant legal costs that we believe are better spent reinvesting in our website and brand. However, applying for licenses in other states such as Pennsylvania is proving to be tougher than anticipated due to the additional information required by the regulator.

This makes it hard for larger affiliates to enter the market, let alone the smaller affiliates that lack the resources and personnel to work on applications in addition to running their sites.

How we are overcoming these hurdles:

The key to any successful license application is honesty. Forms must be filled out accurately and with the correct information or they will simply be rejected by the regulator. Affiliates should also talk with their online casino partners as in most cases they will be willing to support them through the licensing process and provide assistance where they can.

While affiliates are keen to quickly enter states as and when they open up, a considered approach must be taken so that there are no delays to the licensing process. An incorrect form could delay the process by weeks or even months, so it’s best to take the time to make sure your application is correct and complete.

Responsible gambling is a key factor:

Another area of importance is responsible gambling; regulators want to see that affiliate companies are being run by reputable people and that player safety is prioritised. This actually helps affiliates already targeting players in European markets and in particular the UK as the responsible gambling standards there are so high.

So long as affiliates bring the same standards to the US, and take their time with applying for licenses, the US is most certainly open for business for all. Whether you believe the online sports betting or online casino sector provides the biggest opportunity is open to debate, but at Mr-Gamble we are very much backing the latter.