What methods can affiliates use to promote responsible and safe gambling?
Affiliates have been mostly distant within the responsible gambling debates and pressures now flooding operators in regulated markets. However, it is arguably time for them to start doing more than what is currently required of them. Responsible gambling is not a new topic within the community of operators present in regulated markets. Their own responsibility that they owe to their customers has been accentuated over and over again by regulators and industry commentators over the last many years. Meanwhile, affiliates have never been given an important role in this debate.
History tends to repeat itself, so this does not come as news to most people who know the industry well – operators themselves have been mostly regarded to have done the bare minimum for a long time. Many would be wary as to why affiliates would suddenly start going above and beyond.
So, affiliates don’t get to leave unpunished, as brand new regulations from the ASA and the GB Gambling Commission ensure that marketing material is appropriate and that certain minimum information and earnings are available (significant bonus terms, 18+, “please gamble responsibly” notices, and more…). The GB regulator also needs operators to prevent their affiliates from handing out free-to-play games to their unverified users and to make sure that all imagery used is age appropriate.
Additionally, new instructions given by the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling will now require ads in search engines to indicate 18+ restrictions in their ad copy, and that affiliates ‘regularly’ share responsible gambling messaging, starting October 2020.
Aside from the compulsory measures listed above, affiliates could consider a range of other measures. As an example, Compare.bet’s responsible gambling roadmap will be shown, with the wider community to put ideas into the mix and promote discussion. One of the most important categories is content and it’s one that is most accessible for all affiliates to contemplate. It’s quite common to see a “responsible gambling” link in the footer at many affiliate websites, but these pages barely get any traffic – even on a good day. Affiliates would be smart to think of expanding the one page into a new separate section, in order to attract more engagement. Responsible gambling messages can also be interlinked with the main content across all pages, preventing the user from having to go anywhere else in order to get more information. Wherever the content lies, it needs to be easily accessible – even if that means sacrificing more “commercial” pages and posts.
Another great step for affiliates would be the addition of logic to any tools that anonymously request intended deposit numbers from a user. To explain further, a user may enter a deposit amount and get told which bonuses would best fit within their budget. The tool could give a signal of typical/median deposit levels, or it could show a very soft alert if criteria for an unusually high deposit were met. As such, many operators and gambling charities offer Affordability calculators. Affiliates could build their own tool, or link out.
Another important area to take into consideration would be deeper personalization. Even though this would be much more difficult to perfect, if a user visits an affiliate’s site every day for a month, as identified by anonymous cookies, you might consider that a player safety data point.
All of these ideas sound great and are definitely up for debate, but a more solid one that is difficult to argue with is the fact that affiliates should be investing in education within their own team in order to make sure that the safety of players is of utmost importance to everyone. Moving forward, it is absolutely necessary to note that most gamblers do not actually have any problems, and we should look towards creating experiences that will be able to mirror this.