For this year’s G2E conference in Vegas, which starts today, we contributed an article to EGR North America focusing on how digital and affiliate marketing are impacting the evolution of the US online gambling landscape. As well as our own analysis, it featured insights from Chris Grove, who oversees leading US-facing affiliate PlayNJ.com. You can check out the print article on the EGR North America website, where it’s been published here. However, you can also read the full piece below.
Next year will mark half a decade since New Jersey’s eGaming market re-regulated. According to the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), the market has surpassed $600m in revenue since the legalization of online poker and casino in 2013. Instrumental to driving this growth has been digital marketing, especially affiliate marketing and media buying.
Digital marketing has also proved invaluable in alternative verticals like daily fantasy sports (DFS) and online horse-racing wagering. With the regulation of Pennsylvania and other states on the horizon, online acquisition channels will continue to support the US market’s growth going forward.
Besides regulatory issues, US-facing operators also confront marketing restrictions. Google AdWords prohibits online gambling ads, forcing marketers to adapt their strategies.
SEO remains a foundational approach, though results-building takes time. Media buying with high-traffic websites is quicker, and enables brands to advertise to a wide audience and rapidly raise brand awareness. However, the advertising model of paying for impressions isn’t always cost effective.
In this context, affiliate marketing provides a complementary acquisition channel given that operators only pay for results. Since 2013, the DGE has taken an inclusive approach to affiliates, allowing them to promote brands on a cost per acquisition (CPA) or revenue share basis depending on their licensing.
Affiliates continue to support the growth of operators in 2017. Revenue attributed to the affiliate channel for Caesars Interactive’s New Jersey-facing brands grew 12.2% in January to July 2017 compared to the same period in 2016.
Given New Jersey’s growth, Pennsylvania, New York and California are also considering regulation. According to Chris Grove of PlayNJ.com, “Of the three, Pennsylvania is considered the state with the best shot to regulate online gambling.”
Grove suggests Pennsylvania, which is looking to regulate online casino and poker, would likely emulate the DGE’s approach to affiliates. “If the state mirrors New Jersey, there’s every reason to expect that affiliates will be an important part of the mix.”
Even while state-level real-money eGaming legislation progresses, affiliates and media buying are already driving the growth of alternative online verticals such as horse-racing, DFS and iLottery. Online horse-racing is currently legal in 39 states. According to Simulcast, $139.2m was wagered on this year’s Kentucky Derby alone (both online and at tracks).
Affiliates are also active in the DFS space, which, exempt from federal real-money eGaming legislation, is today legal in 14 states following Delaware’s regulation in July.
Affiliates are also beginning to promote the online sites of state lotteries. With iLottery currently regulated in 10 states including Michigan and Kentucky, affiliates will likely play an even larger role as legislation evolves.
At the regulatory level, the diverse US market is in a state of steady progress. As it endures, media buys, and especially affiliates, will remain key acquisition channels in the marketing mixes of operators in all verticals. As Grove notes, “Affiliates will continue offering a voice that customers want to hear. It’s the voice of fellow players, sharing their experiences and insights from a more objective and credible point of view than operators can realistically offer.”
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