Affiliates in the States: Achieving the American Dream
It’s no surprise that affiliates pursuing international expansion will be looking toward the US as fertile ground to potentially build on. However, this new igaming landscape can be a challenging environment to navigate when you consider the disparate regulatory frameworks and consumer trends that are present in this region.
Bojoko has already made great progress in America and shows no signs of slowing down with recently acquired licences in West Virginia and Michigan. We caught up with their CEO, Joonas Karhu to hear more about Bojoko’s journey so far and most importantly what the future holds for them in this exciting market.
Although the US market is still relatively new, Bojoko has fast become a well-established brand in the region, further strengthening its stake hold with new licences in West Virginia and Michigan. Has your experience operating in the US gone as expected so far and what do you expect for the future?
“It is still early days for Bojoko in the US market, but we are starting to see some traction in New Jersey. We are taking the same approach in the US that we have taken in other markets such as the UK, Canada and New Zealand, and that is to make it as easy as possible for players to browse and choose gambling sites based on their own preferences.
“Of course, the US market is different to most in Europe in that affiliates must apply for and secure licences in each of the states they wish to target. The licensing process has proved to be comprehensive and involves a lot more paperwork than we initially expected. I see this as a good thing, though, as it makes sure that the affiliates active in each state are professional and are meeting the highest possible standards.
“Moving forwards, we plan to go live in every regulated state and are currently in the process of applying for a licence in Pennsylvania. This has been the most stringent state to date but we are hoping to be awarded our licence in the near future.”
New Jersey is seen by many as the benchmark for US iGaming regulation. Does having an NJ licence sufficiently prepare you for entry into any other US state, in regard to compliance standards? How do they differ?
“The requirements are different in each state but once you have been through the process once then it becomes easier when applying for additional permits. New Jersey was our first state, so I would say that going through the process there prepared us well for other states and in particular Pennsylvania where I would say the requirements are even tighter.
“While requirements differ from state to state, the ultimate purpose is the same and this is to ensure that affiliates are reputable and responsible. It is also helping to filter out the bad actors and to ensure that those securing licences are the best affiliates in the business.”
Much like Europe, the US states have an increasingly fragmented regulatory structure. Do you think increased regulatory pressures will limit the smaller, less-resourced companies’ ability to remain competitive and limit choice for customers?
“While licence applications are complex and time-consuming, they can be completed by any member of the team. They just need to be read carefully, filled out accurately and with any supporting information provided. The cost of applying for licences is not prohibitive, either, so it is possible for affiliates of all sizes to apply for and secure licences.
“The bigger challenge is actually the contracts that affiliates have to enter with the operators they work with. Again, I believe this is a good thing as it provides security and stability for the affiliate, but it means that you need to have a member of the team that can understand the terms and conditions they contain, or you will have to work with a lawyer and this can be expensive.”
It was recently mentioned that Bojoko has further plans to expand into even more states around the US. What states in particular are of most interest and why?
“So far there are only four states that have legalised online casino – New Jersey, West Virginia, Michigan and Pennsylvania. We are now licensed in three of those states with our Pennsylvania permit expected shortly. We also have plans to launch sports betting – as we have recently done in the UK – in the US and when we do that will see us enter additional states.”
How important is the role of the operators when deciding to enter a new jurisdiction? How do you ensure to create and leverage the best partnerships with operators when entering new territories?
“This is a good question, and perhaps is something that we as affiliates should think of more. Could we, for example, share our insight with operators when it comes to the features, bonuses, etc that are popular with our site visitors and members. I think we could, and this collaboration would ultimately lead to better results for both parties.
“Given the size of the US, where each state is effectively a country in its own right, there is no question that more operators will get in on the action. This is great for affiliates as it allows us to offer more brands to our visitors and members, and also provides additional opportunities to run exciting and impactful campaigns that will help to grow the entire market.”
From speaking with Joonas, it seems that although it is still early days, the signs are very positive.
Bojoko is solely concerned with enabling players to browse and choose gambling sites based on their own unique preferences. They have successfully been able to take their learnings from other jurisdictions such as the UK or Canada and implement them in key US states, providing the consumer with the tools needed to maximise their gaming experience.
Although, currently, there is only one other US state that’s available for them to expand into; we’re expecting more states to open up in the future and Bojoko is poised and ready for entry.
The heightened regulatory landscape in the US may alienate some affiliates but according to Joonas, this is the least of their worries. The biggest challenge comes in creating successful partnerships with operators, working with them as closely as possible to ensure the customer is always put first and that both parties can equally benefit from the amazing growth opportunities that continue to reveal themselves as this market continues to flourish.