Responsible gambling is an undisputed priority for all members of the iGaming industry. Despite this, in jurisdictions such as the UK, operators are still completely liable for any problem gambling or fraud incident that happens with a player on their platform, even though the source of the issue may not always be from the operator. This has led to massive efforts from affiliates to increase their own responsible gambling processes as a way of giving greater support to their partners while of course improving the player’s overall experience.
This trend in ‘Responsible Affiliates’ is expected to continue and will for sure change the shape of the future customer experience. We caught up with Fraser Linkleter, CMO for leading affiliate Slots Temple to get his perspective on the future of player protection innovation in iGaming and what this means for the customer.
The first half of 2020, especially, was a challenging time for the majority of the gambling ecosystem. iGaming, Casino and Slots were affected the least, and in some cases, operators actually saw a lot of success in this adverse climate. How did you have to adapt your operations to suit the new industry landscape and how will it benefit the business going forward?
“For us, it brought into focus the need to promote responsible gambling into sharper focus, as you say, some operators did see business increase during lockdown and with lots of other entertainment off the table perhaps this was inevitable, just like it was inevitable that social media companies and online retailers like Amazon saw uplifts.
In these unprecedented times, it’s the industry’s responsibility to make sure that gaming was not taking up a larger than usual part of people’s time and budget, so promoting responsible gambling messages and explaining player protection tools was something we gave prominence to on the site.”
Player protection measures in iGaming have become increasingly critical for industry stakeholders, especially as potential players spend more time at home and online. Operators completely liable for this in jurisdictions such as the UK and prosecution is a major risk that they continually take steps to mitigate. What can affiliates do to support operators in remaining compliant and players to stay protected?
“As affiliates, we can introduce our visitors to the tools available to them at operator sites to keep their play at a healthy level. Education about these tools and the best ways to use them is very important, which is why we’ve added an educational module about player protection tools such as deposit & loss limits, time outs, reality checks and self-exclusion.
We are pushing visitors to read about support services and how to recognise signs of problem gambling. The industry only survives if it remains fun and entertaining to players – no one in modern regulated environments wants to see problem gambling.
Although everything is free at Slots Temple we will be adding a reality check tool to our site in the upcoming months, we hope this will help to educate our visitors about the player protection whilst encouraging them to set up the protection tools at their operators.
We’ve also added a prominent, permanent ‘Tips for Safer Gambling’ section to the Slots Temple homepage as an educational piece that we hope educates our visitors and shows our commitment to Responsible Gaming.”
Slots Temple’s innovative age verification feature was one of the first in the UK. How important is innovation to the future growth of the iGaming affiliate industry? How can smaller affiliates introduce innovative processes without big budgets?
“Innovation, as always, will be extremely important for affiliates that want to get ahead. This will be more important than ever in 2021 with a host of new regulations, such as the scaling back or banning of welcome bonuses, that could challenge the way affiliates have always operated.
The challenge for affiliates will be to adapt and make their product interesting and entertaining despite regulatory restrictions. I’d advise any affiliate that has ideas for innovative processes such as age verification to go with the idea, get it live and improve it over time. If you think an idea is a good one, publish it on whatever budget you can and add to it as you see the benefit of increased traffic that it has brought.”
Engaging the new generation of players is an ongoing task for the iGaming industry. New features such as the free slots tournaments on your site are great steps forward for the sector. How important a role do you think social and achievement-based products will play in consumer engagement and the future growth of the iGaming market?
“Social features are not for everyone in iGaming, but they will certainly have a part to play in consumer engagement going forward. Slot games have been making use of achievements and unlocking of content for a number of years, so it’s definitely something that if done well and within regulatory guidelines can add enjoyment for the player.
You’re right to flag up the new generation of players who are familiar with these types of features through mobile games and video games, we wait to see if it’s something they’ll demand within their real money iGaming products. For us, as a free product, it seemed like an easy way to make our tournaments more entertaining and interesting for the user.”
Recently the Professional Gambling Affiliates Association was formed to provide contractual security to iGaming affiliates. This, coupled with the recently proposed iGaming affiliate licensed framework by RAiG, suggests there is a strong demand for a more regulated framework in the affiliate industry. Do you think these frameworks are necessary? What impact do you think it will have on the future of the market?
“I think there is a strong demand for more regulatory framework amongst affiliates, most businesses now have come a long way from the stereotypical image of a lone guy sitting in his bedroom churning out sites. For the most part, we are official, responsible businesses who understand the need to regulate and want to be part of that discussion.
We’re applying to RAiG in January 2021 and think it’s a fantastic way to give your users a trust mark they can believe in and a brilliant way to health check your business to make sure you are compiling with regulation as you should.
With so much change happening in the industry, it’s only through official, trusted organisations such as RAiG that affiliates can have a voice in helping to shape the future.”
Editor’s Note: It was really great to hear from one of the leading innovators in the affiliate sector. Pioneering age verification tools and new social-based playing formats are a great sign of things to come. The increased focus on player protection measures is a feature we expect to be adopted industry-wide and will drive the whole industry’s efforts for better customer experience. With more companies like Slots Temple joining associations like RAiG it seems the transformation to a fully regulated affiliate market is picking up pace.