The release of the UK Government’s white paper review on gambling confirmed that the GB Gambling Commission will continue to hold licensee operators accountable for all marketing undertaken on their behalf by affiliate partners. According to the report by iGB, this is very much inline with leaked reports from last year, with the UK government “not persuaded by arguments for online affiliates to be licensed”.
No affiliate licence, however, operators to demand high standards of compliance
While the government have rejected arguments for online affiliates to be licensed, operators are required to demand higher standards of advertising and marketing compliance from some affiliate partners.
Licences for Affiliates could have lessened operator burden
There are some within the industry who feel that licensing affiliates could been beneficial. Jamie Walters, CEO at QiH Group, believes that licences for affiliates could have removed the need for operators to undertake such thorough due diligence on their affiliate partners.
“We know from our successful efforts obtaining affiliate licences in the US that going through such an exercise can be costly and time-consuming,” said Walters.
“However, given our knowledge about compliance and strict approach to staying within regulatory requirements,” Walters continued. “We see it as a worthwhile investment and a positive development for us as it is a way to separate the non-compliant operators from the compliant ones.
“Ultimately, this takes some of the burden off operators in that it removes the requirement for them to do such exhaustive due diligence before agreeing deals with potential affiliate partners.”
Advertising to be made “smarter and safe”
The government has called for advertising to be made “smarter and safe”. The Gambling Commission and the Advertising Standards Authority will take a joint approach to address content marketing that may appeal to minors.
Customers should also be given the choice to opt in to bonuses and promotions separately from other forms of marketing. They should also be able to set controls about the types of products they receive offers on.
Government White Paper: Affiliate Industry Reacts
With the release of the UK gambling white paper, iGBA have published some of the affiliate industry’s views on the proposed changes.
Restrictions too severe
Duncan Garvie, founder and trustee of gambling charity BetBlocker and industry expert at CasinoReviews, feels that operators will see the proposed restrictions as too harsh, “affecting the sustainability of the gambling market in the UK”.
Garvie states that the measures must be implemented carefully to “prevent unintended and undesirable outcomes”.
Garvie went on to say:
“Where consumers feel that they are being forced to go through intrusive verification procedures, or that the products are watered down to such an extent that they no longer offer the options they want, we risk driving those people to the black market,”
“This is especially dangerous when we consider that the people who are most vulnerable to gambling addictions or harmful practices will receive no protection if they engage with illegal operators.”
Player protection was already adequate
David da Silva, Easyodds CEO, believes that the current player protections in force are more than sufficient.
“When correctly applied, we feel that the player protections currently in force with regulated operators in the UK are more than adequate,” said da Silva. “Adding further controls and restrictions designed to protect a small minority is likely to frustrate the majority of responsible gamblers, some of whom might be tempted to switch to unregulated offshore operators.”
Review welcomed by Better Collective
Denmark-based affiliate Better Collective believe that the initiatives from the white paper review will have limited to zero financial impact on the company, and have stated that they welcome the review. The affiliate has gone on to sat that their financial targets for 2023 and 2024 remain the same in the wake of the white paper review.
“Better Collective welcomes the review and believes it provides an opportunity to drive further changes on safer gambling,” the company said in its statement.
Better Collective hold the belief that UK bookmakers have strengthened and implemented new compliance measures since the initiation of the white paper, with measures such as affordability checks. The company stated:
“We have now seen a normalised sports win margin and do not expect for this to change given the proposed measures.”