888 to shut down UK affiliate programme?
888 has denied it is shutting down its UK affiliate programme after a number of affiliates received emails yesterday stating they must no longer target UK traffic and 888 would no longer pay them commission for newly generated players.
In an email seen by iGaming Business, affiliates were told: “As you may be aware the regulatory landscape for affiliates is constantly changing and evolving, especially in the UK. In order to help ensure that we work with our affiliate partners in a compliant manner, we are seeking to exert greater control on the traffic which is generated from the UK.
“As a result, from January 29th 2018, you must not target UK IP addresses and/or any persons located in the UK. Therefore, we shall no longer pay you any commission with regard to money players in the UK which you generate.”
Some posters on the GPWA (Gambling Portal Webmasters Association) forum interpreted the email to mean the programme was shutting down. “Unless I’m reading things incorrectly with my dodgy eyes…bye bye then!” said one.
When contacted by iGB, the operator said: “888 takes the issue of responsible gaming very seriously and has taken a number steps to ensure its marketing complies with the Gambling Commission’s LCCP and ASA’s advertising codes.
“In order to monitor the actions of affiliates more closely, 888 has already terminated its relationship with a large number of affiliates and will continue to close and terminate accounts in order to work with fewer affiliate partners and have better oversight of their activities.”
Duncan Garvie, who runs affiliate and mediation site ThePogg, said he hadn’t received the email as he no longer works with 888, but that it didn’t surprise him.
“I’ve been anticipating this particular move for a while now. With the punitive approach the UK authorities have been taking towards operators and affiliates we’ve already seen a number of programmes close up completely or implement very aggressive terms.
“I was fully expecting one of them to work out eventually that they simply had to stop accepting UK traffic from affiliates rather than close or destroy their reputation with really questionable terms.”
Another poster on the GPWA forum pointed out the email did also contain the following line: “If you do wish to continue working with us in the UK please contact us, through this link: http://affiliates.888.com/contact-us.htm.”
His take on it was: “I think if you are prepared to work closely with them, accept the UK marketing guidelines and make any changes they request you to, that you can still carry on working with them.”
Operators have come under fire for their marketing activities, including those carried out by affiliates, over the past year and 888 was one of several operators to receive a warning from the Advertising Standards Authority over an advert run by an affiliate partner.
As a consequence, operators have been placing more and more compliance demands on affiliates. Bet365 recently carried out an overhaul of its programme and Paddy Power unveiled a ‘one-strike’ policy for affiliates in September.
In September, Sky Bet controversially announced that it was shutting down its affiliate programme altogether, although some have been cynical about its motives.
In a recent interview with iGaming Business’ sister publication iGB Affiliate magazine, Gambling.com’s Charles Gillespie said: “Let’s be clear — Sky still works with strategic media partners. My take on the Sky situation is that it was a set of unique circumstances — they are preparing for a listing this year, private equity owns the business, the owners and the management of the business are being very aggressive on hitting targets and what can be easier than turning off a bunch of legacy rev share and using compliance as an excuse?”
The 888 email suggested, however, that it will be taking a less heavy handed approach to historic traffic than Sky Bet, with the email also having stated: “The aforementioned shall not apply with respect to non-UK money players or to money players which you have generated in the UK prior to such date, subject to the Uffiliate terms and conditions found at http://affiliates.888.com/terms-and-conditions/ (the “Terms”).”