This article is a continuation of our recent contribution to iGB North America, which coincided with ICE Sports Betting USA, where we discussed the current state of affiliate marketing in the US, and the channel’s inherent ‘stickiness’ driving the shift in the way iGaming brands operate. With evolving state regulations, discover how some affiliate businesses plan on approaching US sportsbooks in 2019.
Evolution vs. Revolution
Affiliates are increasingly proving their ‘stickiness’ as a marketing channel. PASPA’s repeal and Pennsylvania’s launch of an online casino and poker market by early 2019 suggest that contextual factors are also shifting.
Affiliates like Becky Kingman-Gros of Casino Connection, are strongly focused on iGaming in Pennsylvania, given the parallels with New Jersey. Noting its population of 12.8 million, she says, “This is a fantastic opportunity, provided the revenue share options to licensed affiliates will be compatible to what New Jersey is offering.” The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has yet to announce its stance on affiliates, though it seems likely that the regulator would emulate the DGE’s approach.
Kingman-Gros is even optimistic that the Keystone State’s launch could serve as a catalyst for broader iGaming regulation. “Pennsylvania will likely push some other states over the edge, providing an even bigger opportunity for affiliates,” she says.
Of course, PASPA’s repeal has arguably been a bigger catalyst for affiliate marketing, with New Jersey already offering online sports-betting, and Delaware and West Virginia planning to expand their retail market to include online sportsbook in early 2019, when Pennsylvania is also expected to launch its cross-channel sports-betting market.
In addition, Daly expects that perhaps two to three new states will regulate sports-betting in 2019 for launch the following year. “It will still be very healthy growth but more of an evolution than a revolution,” he says.
Small is equally measured, cautioning that only states with online sports-betting markets are relevant from an affiliate perspective. However, he adds, “For states like Pennsylvania, New Jersey and West Virginia, online is going to be a huge profit center.” Small also sees the potential for “big states” like New York, Illinois and Michigan “to get on board in the near future”.
The optimism, albeit cautious, of established affiliate businesses like Small’s US Bets and Daly’s Catena Media is likely to see them joined by many new affiliates in 2019. Indeed, over a fifth (22%) of global affiliates polled in Income Access’ Q3 2018 survey plan to promote US sportsbooks next year.
Small feels the term ‘affiliate gold rush’ is overblown but does acknowledge that the space will expand significantly. “There will be more affiliates because there is more money to be made,” he says. “The best affiliates will keep getting more professional and sophisticated, with larger and more expensive operations.”
Even with the addition of new affiliates, verticals and markets, Daly feels that the channel will retain its focus on consumer education even as it grows in the short-term. “‘Evolve’ is the right word for the post-PASPA US market as that means to develop gradually,” he says. Indeed, affiliate marketing may stop short of reaching a tipping point next year, but it is evolving into a new American phase where a revolution appears inevitable, sooner or later.
Now that you’ve read both parts of the article, let us know what anticipated changes you believe will be implemented in the US iGaming market next year. For more information on our US-focused products and services, please contact our Communications Manager Nick Say.