Affiliate Licensing Spotlight, Channelisation and Collaboration, Interview with Clive Hawkswood, Chariman, RAiG

After speaking with Clive Hawkswood, Chairman of RAiG in part one of our Affiliate Licensing Spotlight, we delve deeper into the licensing impacts on channelisation and how the industry can translate the successful collaboration between RAiG and British Gaming Council.

Does the new licensing framework run the risk of increasing black or grey market activity and how can we mitigate?

That’s been a bit of an anchor around our necks on the gambling industry side of things.

It’s the whole issue around channelisation, which comes up with all new markets.

In markets where you can’t offer very many products and the value’s poor, then it’s a serious issue.

In the UK, why would you as a player seek out a black market operator? What can they offer that a licensed operator cannot?

On the affiliate side, there are rumours that affiliates are offered all sorts of things by black market operators based wherever they might be.

I think the bottom line is it’s currently illegal to promote unlicensed operators and that will continue to be the case.

We also need to see more activity from the Gambling Commission. They’re not currently convinced it’s much of an issue.

In practice, the barrier tends to come down from affiliates policing other affiliates. If you see your competitors promoting black market sites, you go to the gambling commission.

If there’s a licensing regime, you’ve got every right to knock on that door and say you need to be doing something here to protect the licensed sector.

And that’s one of the things we don’t currently have.

You can go to the gambling commission, but where does this sit on their list of priorities? Nowhere unless they see it’s a big issue.

I don’t currently believe it’s a big issue, but if it became one, a licensing framework would give us much more leverage in getting the Gambling Commission to enforce what’s already a law.

RAiG is obviously a fantastic collaboration between the operators and the affiliates. How can this successful collaboration be reflected in the industry?

Realistically it’s still early days.

RAiG is still new, Betting and Gaming Council is still a new entity as they only started a couple of months before RAiG.

They are working on an affiliate code of practice, which we will work with them on.

They’ve set up a separate subcommittee to look at the whole issue.

In the absence of affiliate licensing, it brings some consistency of approach, certainly by BGC members, which is the bulk of the industry.

It would also improve the reputation of both the operators and the affiliates.

That collaborative approach, often easier said than done, certainly provides dividends for both if we can get it right.

We have to appreciate that the BGC has a lot on its plate at the moment, but I understand that they’re hoping to have a code produced by the end of the year.  I’ve spoken to colleagues at the BGC and to the person chairing the sub-committee that is taking that work forward and they have committed to sharing drafts with other stakeholders before finalising anything, so that will be the next milestone.

However, there’s competition between operators, there are tensions between affiliates and operators, these things are never straight forward.

Generally speaking, anyone who looks at this with any seriousness sees the real challenges coming down the road, let alone the ones we already had.

The focus will be the new gambling bill, which the government have already committed to. It’s just a question of timing.

The challenges come from outside the industry. It’s not competition between operators, it’s not competition between affiliates.

There are clear and present dangers coming down the road. How do we collectively deal with that?

If we’re in this space, whether marketing or actual gambling providers, we’ve got a responsibility to consumers to try and make it as safe as we can.

Affiliates have a part that needs to be played and need to be seen to be playing it. I think that’s been a big gap in the past.

With every affiliate I’ve spoken to, it’s not a question of wanting to do the right thing, it’s a question of what the right thing is and how do to do it.

So how can we get everyone to move in the right direction?

One of the benefits of any trade group is often not the official stuff that’s published, it’s just getting those guys sitting in a room together and tackling issues as a group.

That word of mouth alone can help to raise standards and consistency.

Editor’s note: From speaking with Clive it’s clear that there will be minimal change in channelisation levels when the affiliate licensing framework gets implemented. However, should it become an issue, a licensed framework will give the industry more leverage in getting BGC to take the problem seriously.

With the cessation of physical events, which were a key a tool for operators and affiliates to maintain and grow relationships, partnerships are under an increasing amount stress. As the gambling review in the UK looms, these relationships may naturally become more intimate as the industry rallies together to safeguard from outside threats.


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