Affiliates in iGaming: Redefining our Purpose, with Erik Bergman, Founder, Great.com
The huge success of the iGaming industry, in general, has generated massive income for many stakeholders in the market, but should profits always be the main objective for a business? Some industry commentators believe it’s this wholly commercial attitude that may be holding us back as a sector.
Erik Bergman is the Founder of the leading socially-focused affiliate site, Great.com, and he believes that in order for our industry to make true progress and ensure future growth we must redefine why we do business.
We caught up with him to hear more about his perspective on the role of the affiliate in today’s iGaming market and why thinking in the extended long-term is the best strategy for business.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far, from a customer engagement perspective, since the pandemic hit our industry?
“The biggest lesson for me is the importance of long-term focus. Jeff Bezos has said about Amazon that the most important reason for their success is that instead of focusing on what they think will be most important today, they focus on what they know will be important ten years from now.
I can’t predict the next fad or how a pandemic will hit, but if I was running a large e-commerce like Amazon, I would know that 10 years from now, people would still want lower prices, more options to choose from, and faster deliveries. All focus on doing this the best possible over 10 years, would lead to long term success.
The same is true for the gambling industry. We can’t predict the next fad, but we can predict what will not change.
– Trust will be very important 10 years from now.
– Great customer support will be important 10 years from now.
– Fast loading speed will be important 10 years from now.
These are questions we are building our New Jersey online casino guide of Great.com around. What will matter in 10 years time?
If you focus on the question “What do I know will matter for our customers 10 years from now?”, and you focus on that for 10 years, pandemics won’t matter.”
Online casino has seen great success in recent times, especially since live sports was halted last year. Is this trend expected to continue into the future or will it settle down once the lockdown is over?
“I believe that we will see some stagnation after the pandemic. People have been gambling more as a result of being in lockdown and have had fewer options for entertainment.
Once again, from a 10-year perspective, I don’t think it matters much. Lots of people love the entertainment of casino and people have been gambling since Roman times. In general, I believe we will see a continuous upwards trend as technology improve and the world economy grows further.”
Great.com’s mission is to redefine the online gambling industry, why is this so important for future market growth and what are the best ways to go about doing this?
“Our most important mission is not to redefine the online gambling industry, we want to redefine why companies are doing business. Lots of companies out there are owned by people like me, who already have more money than they will need for a lifetime.
We wish to inspire people to change their “Why” for running a business to a “Why” that is solely driven by giving back. If entrepreneurs that don’t need more money for themselves, shifted to focus solely on building businesses to give back, we would see a much better world. That’s why Great.com will give away all money we generate in profits, and we will be very public about it to inspire as many people as possible. Preferably starting in the casino and gambling industries and seeing ripple effects into lots of different areas.
When it comes to redefining the online gambling industry for future market growth, I’m not sure if it is important. I think the industry will keep growing either way simply because of the human need for excitement. At the same time, I would love to see a casino industry that took a bigger responsibility for the player’s well-being and redefined what “responsible gambling” meant. But once again, that’s not so much about market growth.”
There have been many key industry stakeholders including associations like RAiG who believe the affiliate industry should be licensed and more regulated. Do you agree with this idea and what impact do you think it will have on the industry going forward?
“Let me answer that question with a short story. I started out in the casino affiliate industry when I was 17 years old because I fell in love with online poker. Early on we were building affiliate businesses in all kinds of industries to see what worked, among others, we focused on payday loans.
One day we realised that we could cross-promote our email databases from payday loan customers and casino offers – sending people in clear and sometimes desperate need for money, casino offers. Lots of them started playing and some of them probably lost money they could not afford to lose.
This was both immoral and irresponsibly done by us, and my only defence is that I was young and stupid.
My point being is that there is a too low barrier of entry for being a gambling affiliate. The stakes with potential harm are too high for teenagers. I believe the industry would benefit from seeing some regulations put into place.
Short term, I believe it will hold the industry back and it will create both headache and lower margins. Long-term, however, I believe it’s for the better and would benefit both the health of the industry and the well-being of the players.”
Editor’s Note: From speaking with Erik, it’s clear that he believes having a long-term perspective is vital to the future success of our industry.
As the market landscape continues to shift, to remain competitive, content providers are under increasing pressure to build more trusting relationships with their customer base and offer as much support as possible. Great.com is a prime example of the movement in the market towards a more socially responsible environment where pure profit is not the sole focus. To stay ahead of the curve we must think ahead, way ahead.