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Industry vs affiliates showdown: Bingo

| By iGB Editorial Team
In Part One of our new series, David Donaldson from Blueclaw Media interviews leading bingo affiliate Tom Jones, from Bingosites.uk, about key trends in the marketplace.

As Part One of the ‘Industry vs affiliates showdown’ series, David Donaldson from Blueclaw Media interviews leading bingo affiliate Tom Jones, from Bingosites.uk, about the key trends in the marketplace.

Tom has been in the bingo affiliate industry for the past five years. He’s managed a number of different sites, which led him to create Bingosites.uk, a one-stop portal for the modern online bingo player.

David Donaldson: What was your reasoning behind starting this venture? Why choose bingo over gaming sectors like sportsbetting or online casinos?

Tom Jones: Having been involved in the online bingo industry for a while, it made sense to develop a portal in a familiar niche that I understand. We like the bingo niche due to the social aspects we can market to, as well as having an understanding of what the modern bingo player is looking for when choosing a welcome bonus.

DD: How do you think the iGaming industry has developed over the past few years? Do you think the mergers and acquisitions we’ve seen from the gaming powerhouses will benefit customers or not?

TJ: Yes and no, while these mergers are positive in that by joining together with other companies, they then have more to spend on better developed games and offers for their users. It is also negative for competition in the market and makes it a lot harder for newer sites that are trying to get a foothold.

DD: Do you think bingo’s target demographic will remain the same over the next 5-10 years or can you see this changing?

TJ: I think that we will definitely start to see some shift in the number of male players coming into the market, especially now that companies like Mecca are using popular trends like Pokemon Go to draw in young male players. 

DD: How do you think Brexit will affect areas like Gibraltar and Malta, which are heavily involved in the gambling industry?

TJ: I think figures put online gambling at 25% of the economy of Gibraltar, with the rest being made up by shipping and finance. Now that the UK has chosen to leave the single market it’s going to have a lot of impact on their economy. If the large iGaming businesses choose to leave Gibraltar it is unfortunately going to put a huge number of people out of work.

DD: Do you think affiliates and operators will develop stronger relationships in the future? If so, why? Or if not, why not?

TJ: Although bingo operators are still seeing increased profits they are also still seeing fewer people coming through the doors. Because of this, I think it is inevitable that operators will look online and to affiliate schemes rather than land based halls and clubs to generate profit and to get more users.

DD: How do you think the technological innovation (such as artificial intelligence) will impact the iGaming industry?

TJ: I’m not sure if AI specifically will have much of an impact on the online bingo industry, but technology has always and will always have a huge impact. Just think of the impact that mobile technology has had on gambling; a huge £2.44bn spent online and on mobile.

DD: What do you think will happen to the traditional, land-based bingo industry in the coming years (will it fully dry up and stop etc.)?

TJ: There have been a rocky few years financially so as people have had to tighten their belts, there has unfortunately been an increase in the number of bingo halls and clubs having to close.

The larger chains such as Gala and Mecca are still seeing increased profits although overall visits are down. This then is the trend we will continue to see; the old ‘traditional’ clubs and halls, full of rows of dusty old tables, will have to make way for the larger chains that are embracing new technologies and a more immersive experience.

DD: How do you think the growing popularity of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin will affect the online gambling/bingo industry?

TJ: I think that it will definitely throw up a lot of changes in the industry and could possibly lead to knock-on effects for the currencies themselves. At the moment there are not that many online gambling — or bingo sites for that matter — that accept cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. It’s undeniable that they are gaining popularity so I don't think it will be long before a lot of vendors are forced to accept them due to the demand.

However, this does throw up some issues. The main drawing point of these currencies is their anonymity; if there is a system of Bitcoins going into a site and then coming out as winnings in the form of GBP or Euros, we don't know from what source the Bitcoins have come from. So in terms of money laundering, etc., this is a problem. As we have seen in the UK with various press around criminals using gambling kiosks in bookmakers to launder money, gambling is a popular choice. So if not watched closely, it could become one more avenue for this.

DD: What tactics/strategies can you see dominating the bingo/iGaming industry in the next three years?

TJ: Obviously the mainstay of the strategy is going to be around getting new users, retaining existing users and re-engaging with those who have gone to use other brands. Promotions and special offers are always a great hook to cover all three of these users and to some extent are expected by the user.

Another very important tactic is making sure that the user experience and designs of the games make it easy for the user. If you have games that are difficult to play then people will become frustrated and will seek out other sites. Convenience is key!

DD: What would your top three tips be for people looking to enter the bingo affiliate industry?

TJ: 1. Study the market
      2. Be patient
      3. Persevere

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