With regulators turning the screws on the unscrupulous through covid-19, James Ashton, head of content at FindMyUKCasino.com, says affiliates must up their game when it comes to responsible gambling – but greater collaboration with operators is required.
Now more than ever it is important for online casino operators and affiliates to work hand in hand to ensure that responsible gambling messages are delivered to players.
With players in the UK and other regulated markets around the world currently on lockdown, there are concerns that those displaying “harm indicators” are not receiving the support they need.
As soon as the UK lockdown was announced on 25 March, Gambling Commission Chief Executive Neil McArthur wrote a letter to operators reminding them of their responsibilities. Alongside instructions to “market responsibly” and onboard customers in a “socially responsible way” operators were told to ensure affiliates were “conducting themselves appropriately.”
Worryingly, this does not appear to have been the case with some unethical and unprofessional affiliates using the crisis as a springboard for marketing activity.
We have received several “Dear All” emails from our operator partners reminding affiliates that they must absolutely not use the crisis in any marketing activity whatsoever.
It is surprising and shocking that operators are having to send out such messages in the first place – in this era of regulated and responsible gambling, affiliates really should know better. It shows that while the majority have embraced compliance, and genuinely want to take care of their readers, a small number of publishers put profits before protecting players.
This is just not how the industry works and now more than ever affiliates should be helping their operator partners when it comes to delivering safe gaming messages to players.
This is something that we have focussed on since day one and have worked closely with our operator partners to ensure we are 100 percent compliant.
This not only means that we are meeting the highest possible standards but that we are helping our partners make sure they too are not at risk of non-compliance.
We have consulted with the operators we work with over many aspects of our site but in particular the design of our casino call to action cards and the placement of significant terms and full T&Cs.
We also allow our operator partners to fact and compliance check the reviews we write – while still maintaining our editorial independence – so they don’t contain inaccuracies or blacklist keywords.
This is important because players need to be able to access accurate, up to date information in order to be able to make an informed decision about where to play.
This is certainly the case when it comes to welcome bonuses and the terms and conditions they come with – players need to know about minimum deposits and wagering requirements.
We have also adjusted our content strategy to ensure that we remind players of the need to stay in control of their play and the tools available to help them do this.
Take our new free spins no deposit page – we still provide players with the information they are seeking about this type of bonus, but clearly explain wagering requirements and how they work.
We also make clear that bonuses are not right for everyone and that it is important to understand T&Cs and whether they impact the value the offer provides.
This means our readers do not find themselves having to complete wagering requirements they simply cannot afford to bankroll and thus gambling outside of their means. Not all of our competitors do this – instead they focus on encouraging players to accept the bonus, sign up to the casino and deposit even if the bonus is not right for the player. In addition to this, we have written a guide to responsible gambling, which appears at the bottom of our homepage and on all other pages across the site.
Of course, responsible gambling is a two-way relationship between operator and affiliate, and we have found that some of our partners are more involved in this than others. While some are proactive in their approach to compliance, others seem reactive and only reach out to their affiliate partners when the regulator tightens the screw.
This is understandable to some extent – compliance is a huge undertaking for operators, and it must be applied to all areas of the business. But with the UKGC paying close attention over the past few months and moving forwards as we come out of the crisis, greater collaboration is needed if players are to be properly protected.
The operators and affiliates that do will be able to grow their businesses by providing players with the information and entertainment they are seeking, but within the regulator’s guidelines.