The relationship between online casino operators and affiliates has become incredibly strained in recent years, and much of this is due to unfair contracts and terms and conditions.
At present, affiliates are required to enter into contracts or agree to terms and conditions that are only in favour of the operator and subject to change at any time.
This can include changes to the commercial arrangements agreed between the affiliate and the operator, which can and does make running an affiliate business uncertain and unsustainable.
Here are just a few examples of how operators may change their contracts and terms and conditions.
- Affiliate has 100 depositing players on their account and the operator lowers the revenue share for the affiliate from agreed 50% to 20%
- If affiliates do not send a set number of FTDs per month, commission is reduced or stopped for all players previously delivered
- Additional fees can be introduced and applied, drastically reducing the actual share of revenue the affiliate receives
- Operator untags, in other words, removes high-value players from affiliate’s account, to avoid paying agreed revenue share
The result of this is that affiliate income can change at any time, even for players that have been sent and converted and the operator is still earning from.
Not only is this unfair but it also makes it impossible for affiliates to reinvest in their businesses and websites and it also puts job security at risk – smaller affiliate business still employ several people.
This situation is not seen in any other B2B industry or sector, and needs to be addressed if the relationship between operators and affiliates is to continue in the future.
It is for this reason that I have established the Professional Gambling Affiliate Association (PGAA), allowing affiliates to come together to fight for contractual stability.
The PGAA is open to all affiliates, from the largest super affiliates down to sites with just one webmaster, to ensure that all interest are represented.
The ultimate goal of the PGAA is to work with operators to create a single contract that is signed between the operator and individual PGAA members.
The contract will set basic standards, such as affiliates being guaranteed a revenue share over an agreed period of time and operators agreeing to not increase fees, that will provide the stability we need and deserve.
Of course, the contract will not be one sided and we want to work with operators to ensure that both parties are working to a balanced and fair agreement.
To this end, the contract may allow operators to purchase players and future revenue from an affiliate for a one-off fee. It will also require affiliates to meet regulatory guidance from the likes of the UKGC and the ASA.
We also want to encourage discussions with operators around other areas, such as high roller policies, negative carryover and baseline triggers, to reach agreeable terms outside of the contract.
I do believe the PGAA is an incredible initiative and will ultimately lead to a better relationship between operators and affiliates, but to achieve that we need support from both parties.
I am calling on affiliates of all sizes to join the association, which they can do here, and for operators to also enter discussions and work with us on this.
In terms of next steps, myself and Bojoko will begin discussions with our operator partners, and we will also cover any legal fees involved with having the contract written up.
I would like to think that most operators are willing to work with us, and to ensure that their affiliate partners are fairly compensated for the players they send.
The relationship between operators and affiliates is undoubtedly strained at present, and much of this is due to the one-sided nature of the partnership.
But this is easy to overcome so long as we ensure that affiliates are given contractual security and receive a fair share of the revenues they help operators generate.
Ultimately, this will allow affiliates to continue to invest in their businesses and websites, which in turn will enable them to drive growth both for themselves and their operator partners.
Joonas Karhu is the chief business officer at online casino comparison site Bojoko.com. He is an expert in regulated online gambling and regularly writes for industry press about a range of topics including responsible gambling, regulation and affiliation.