Online Gambling Affiliate Union Proposed as Industry Grows More Volatile

Written by:
Guest
Published on:
Mar/19/2018

The online gambling affiliate industry is currently in a state of flux.  It's survival for the fittest with the introduction of cryptocurrencies and regulatory oversights making their way into the sector. 

Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and bitcoin cash offer up plenty of new and rewarding opportunities for Web gambling affiliates but they also attract countless startups, many of which will be underfunded and go bust.  Others come into the sector with the sole intention of committing fraud....just ask John Oliver

Newly imposed government regulatory provisions have led even the most established betting firms - Bet365 and Skybet, just to name a few - to completely overhaul their affiliate partnership terms.

The folks behind ThePogg.com want to help improve the industry by self-regulating through the creation of an affiliate union.

The Proposal

There is one main issue that confronts affiliates time and time again when dealing with programs that simply decide to change the terms of their agreements - many affiliates are simply not in a financial position to attempt to challenge via the legal system actions taken by an affiliate program that are to their detriment and may not be legally sound. Court action can be very expensive and while there are some affiliates who have deep enough pockets to be comfortable dealing with the expenses themselves, most of us are not. Affiliate programs know this and selectively enforce detrimental changes, allowing the larger affiliates with more clout to do as they wish while ruthlessly altering the contracts of the smaller affiliates who they feel cannot viably pursue them.

In my opinion smaller affiliates working together could address this issue. There are two fundamental barriers that have prevented this from ever happening:

i) Historic efforts to put together a union have fallen at the first hurdle. In each case the union has suggested that 'we all agree not to work with certain programs'. Affiliates have vastly differing standards in what they consider a 'good' or 'bad' program. Even between sites with significant synergy there will be programs that differ in their standing. Simply put, most affiliates cannot allow someone else to dictate who they work with as this can have serious financial implications for the affiliate's business. Even if all members were to agree to this in principal, policing it would be effectively unmanageable.

ii) Affiliate Unions are difficult to organise primarily because many affiliates would be put off by the idea of having to pay upfront fees to a body administered by someone else. Who should be trusted with this role? What are reasonable fees? How would it be decided what the fees are spent on. Affiliates tend to be entrepreneurial individuals that do not like being told what they can and can't do. The idea of signing up to a group where someone else gets to make the decisions does not appeal to many of us.

Both of these issues are actually closely related - why would I hand over control of a significant area of MY business to someone who may not have our best interest at heart?

Rationale Behind the Union

To me, the advantages of this system are clear – with 100 members the potential to deliver a widely distributed press release that would turn up regularly in the rankings highlighting the issues is a significant disincentive to any program considering making unfair changes in the first instance.

If a case was serious enough to warrant taking legal action (imo Affiliate Edge would have been worth at least engaging legal advice for), even if case cost an outrageous amount of £200k, every member would only be liable to pay £2k. The larger the number of participants the smaller the individual contributions would be.

Yes it is likely that we would all end up contributing to cases that don’t impact us from time to time, but this approach would make members of the union a far more dangerous target for programs to implement arbitrary contract change tactics against. Most cases aren’t going to come to anywhere near £100k. If Dave had taken legal representation and lost in this manner, with 100 members it’s unlikely the bill would have come to £300 each and I’m sure most of us would have thought that small price to pay to challenge this type of blanket ‘we can change anything at any time’ term. The upside if the case had been won would have been huge for all affiliates.

There will unquestionably be affiliates who decide not to honour their commitment when a call is issued to contribute to legal fees. The union can take a separate vote on whether to pursue such breaches of contract via the court system or simply revoke the membership of said affiliates.

I’d also suggest that it might be worthwhile to have a small monthly membership fee (€5-10) that could be collected as a ‘war chest’ in case the union approves action on an issue. In this manner there would already be a bank to draw down on before anyone is asked for extra. It also means that all members have some degree of stake in the enterprise meaning active participation is more likely.

Concerns

The proposal was first introduced earlier this month on the Affiliate Watchdog website and, needless-to-say, there has been plenty of feedback.

Veteran affiliate Aussie Dave posted: "Frankly, nothing changes IF nothing changes. Too often these days, programs seem to follow the 'Monkey see Monkey do' attitude. Which in the case of affiliate partners, all too often translates to (smaller) affiliates being shafted."

Another member of the form, Frank, writes: "My doubt is not all affiliates will be capable financially to pay say 500, however the union is a great Idea, I think the public damage we can do all working together dominating the serps would scale way more than 200k, create a hostile environment against the rogue's where the only possible road to take is playing straight. it's not just the non payers but also the legal shavers and those inflicting ridiculous fee's under the guise of legal charges leaving affiliates with a penny off the dollar."

Affiliates Will Continue to Get the Shaft Without Proper Representation

Without a powerful union to represent online gambling affiliates, heads of ThePogg fear more companies will continue to change their terms haphazardly disregarding their initial partnership agreement.

Now it's Genting's turn:

“3.2 We may amend, and reserve the right to amend, alter, and/or revise Our Agreement with You at any time, by posting revised Terms on the “Genting Affiliates” page of Genting’s Website(s). Any revised terms so posted shall be legally effective between us from the date of their upload.

3.3 Where reasonably practicable We will endeavour to inform You of significant changes to the Agreement by way of email or AMS notification. You nonetheless agree and confirm that it is and remains Your sole responsibility to periodically log into Your account and check the Agreement terms applicable. You further confirm that Your continued membership and participation in Our Affiliate Programme post revision shall constitute Your acceptance of any revised Agreement terms. Should You not wish to accept any revised Agreement terms then your sole remedy shall be a right to terminate your Agreement with us. If you wish to do this please contact our Affiliate team at affiliates@gentinguk.com.”

Genting is one of the most established gambling firms in the United Kingdom.

Looking forward, ThePogg writes: "Personally I hope we would never see the day where we actually had to take on a case. But I know that having enough of us working together to ensure that we have the financial scope to do so if required would be a significant deterrent in of itself."

- Alejandro Botticelli, Gambling911.com

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