One of the most-recognised gambling brands in the Baltic States, OlyBet offers an online casino, sportsbook and poker along with mobile casino and land-based sports-betting bars in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.At the London Affiliate Conference (LAC) earlier this month, we spoke to the brand’s Erik Karu, Head of Affiliates, about operating in emerging markets and its challenges, the current state of sports-betting and digital marketing trends.Income Access: How do you see the sports-betting vertical evolving in 2017 and beyond?Erik Karu: New products such as Cash Out and enhanced Super Toto-style games are being introduced. The overall trend is towards unifying everything into a single solution where players can bet, trade, withdraw winnings or limit losses at any time.IA: What are the advantages of operating in newer markets such as Estonia, Latvia and Slovakia?EK: It’s potentially easier to gain market share and build brand awareness faster. In Slovakia, we still operate only with land-based casinos under the name of Olympic Casino. However, our experience and reputation gives us an edge in gaining the trust of customers.IA: What challenges do you face as a result of working in these markets?EK: Because iGaming is not fully established, we are required to be pioneers and also educate potential customers about online gambling. Fresh markets often have non-advanced technical knowledge, meaning operation setups take longer.IA: What are the vital components for being a successful land-based and online gambling outlet?EK: It is vital to offer as many entertainment platforms and verticals as you can. If possible, land-based operators should offer sports-betting at their venues. A single wallet system is also very important, as is the option to quickly deposit and withdraw money.IA: Are you planning to open any bars or offer live-streaming at your current bars for other verticals (such as eSports) in 2017?EK: As our main aim is to offer sports-betting at almost all land-based locations, we are constantly opening new sports bars where we stream most of the big matches. Bearing in mind the boom in eSports, we are also keeping this vertical in mind!IA: What changes have you seen in both affiliate marketing and digital marketing over the past 12 months and where do you see both heading in 2017?EK: There has been a big increase in flat, upfront payments to complement regular commission structures. Digital marketing is evolving fast and clients are getting smarter every year, while it is increasingly difficult for traditional e-media agencies to offer their services. Today’s digital marketing world is into more creative solutions, a trend that will continue in the future.IA: What is the current state of iGaming affiliate marketing for brands in the Baltic (Estonia, Latvia, etc.) and Eastern Europe (Slovakia)?EK: Affiliate marketing is still growing here. Company mergers happen constantly and have an impact on iGaming. Affiliates target their focus towards bigger brands for a stable and robust partnership.IA: How do you see iGaming affiliate marketing evolving for Baltic and Eastern European brands?EK: It will definitely evolve because Baltic countries have strict gambling regulations, which sets obstacles for both operators and affiliates. The regulated market aspect will increase the gambling sector’s quality, which will favour players.Income Access: Thanks for chatting with us, Erik. We wish both you and OlyBet the best of success in 2017! For more info on the brand, please reach out to Erik.