Gambling Compliance in iGaming
30th August 2018 – Gambling Compliance – Over the past 12 months iGaming in the UK has been shaken up by a virtual earthquake in the form of compliance regulations. Headed up by the UKGC and enforced by the likes of the ASA and the ICO, this has had a real affect on UK licensed online casinos and their affiliates that promote them.
First off I would like to be clear that strengthening regulation is actually a good thing for iGaming. The UK Gambling Commission should in essence be applauded for introducing safeguards which reduces the exposure of gambling to minors and vulnerable individuals.
Indeed, it is not just online gambling that has been affected by regulatory changes over the past year or so. The UK Government recently laid plans to limit the stake level on Fixed Odd Betting Terminals from £100 to £2.
Online Casinos Fined
During 2018 several high profile online casino operators have felt the wrath of the UKGC and have been fined.
In some cases the fines meted out by the UKGC have been very excessive for operators being found to be in breach of their regulations.
888 are not the only operator which has been fined, earlier this year 32Red were hit with a £2 million fine for failing a problem gambler.
In addition to this there is also the very real prospect that some operators which are currently licensed by the UKGC could see their license stripped, if they do not comply with the new stricter regulatory requirements.
Affiliate Programs Tightening Up
These actions by the UKGC working in tandem with the ASA, ICO and CAP Compliance Team have resulted in operators scrambling to ensure their collective houses are in order. This has had a knock on effect on the affiliate programs of the casino and betting operators, with the very real possibility of affiliate programs closing their doors as a result.
We have already seen and heard reports of programs actually terminating their deals with numerous affiliates, as any perceived breach of the new regulations in force by affiliate partners could cause operators to be fined.
Changes that affiliates that work in the UK market have been made to accept include links sitewide to begambleaware.org and also links to any terms and conditions should a bonus promotion be mentioned.
Also affiliate programs need to ensure there is good two way dialogue between their affiliates and the affiliate managers running the programs. This is actually a really good thing and to be honest, it was about time that all affiliates should be made to promote the products offered by operators responsibly.
Then there is the added curveball of GDPR which effects any site hosted in the European Union and which will also continue to affect UK hosted sites, once the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.
If you haven’t heard of GDPR then you must have been living under a rock for the past year.
A notification that you run cookies on your site and also an option for visitors to delete any data you may hold about them, if indeed you do.
For further information on GDPR and it’s ramifications on individuals or businesses please visit here.
What can Affiliates do to Become Compliant?
The first case in point is to ensure your affiliate accounts with the programs you work with do not get unceremoniously terminated.
You need to protect your residual revenue stream you have accrued over the years and also protect any future ongoing business.
To do this you need to respond and act on any compliance requests sent out to you by the programs that you receive. Online Casinos and Online Betting Sites still value the revenue stream that affiliates bring to the table, but they need to ensure they know who they are working with.
To this extent therefore, there has to be a clear communication channel between both parties. Even if you are unable to attend any of the numerous affiliate conferences held throughout the year, you should at the very least be accessible via email/skype/phone to the managers of the programs you work with.
What is very clear though is that more changes will no doubt be forthcoming in the near future, with some requests ( read demands ) from affiliate programs coming across as seemingly unreasonable.
Another area is the very grey area of streaming slots and the various slot focused channels that appear on platforms such as YouTube and Twitch.
There is a growing groundswell of opinion that these channels do nothing more than promote gambling online to vulnerable individuals.
Recently we spoke to the owner of Dunover Slots which had his YouTube channel suspended, to put across his point of view of streaming and the showcasing of playing slots online.
There is no arguing that successful streaming channels can bring in a high number of FTD’s ( First Time Depositors ), but is this a responsible way of marketing online casinos?
Recently the online casino LeoVegas purchased CasinoGrounds, a forum and site dedicated for streamers and those that watch streams. Have they overstepped the mark or are they acting responsibly as an operator and the holder of a UKGC licence?
For a greater understanding of what is required of both affiliates and online operators in the iGaming sector, I spoke with Ian Sims the founder of Rightlander.
Rightlander is a landing page monitor and has branched out from originally checking links that sites link out to, to the checking of affiliate sites for compliance.
Having already signed up 40 brands, Rightlander also provides a service for affiliates, so it can be used by affiliates to check whether their sites are meeting the compliance requirements demanded by affiliate programs.
The video below is quite long, but is very insightful and well worth watching in it’s entirety if you operate in the iGaming space. Whether you are an affiliate, operator or work for a affiliate programme.
If you are interested in using Rightlander for your site or sites, affiliates can sign up for free here.