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Affiliate Interviews: Dominic Stephens, co-founder at Slots-Guide.eu

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There are no rights or wrongs when entering the gambling affiliate industry, but one thing is certain, it involves work(as everything else, if you want to achieve anything), dedication and being honest. This is mission is certainly what the guys at Slots-Guide.eu have taken. Dominic is the second affiliate which will fly for free to SiGMA(Summit of iGaming, Malta). You to can benefit of this promotion, just by sharing your story as Dominic did. Read more details here.

Without further introductions and side details, I give you the interview with Dominic Stephens, co-founder at Slots-Guide.eu

GAV: First, we would like to thank you for the opportunity to interview such a highly appreciated professional of the industry. Could you fill out the short form below so our readers can imagine your profile?

  • Name: Dominic Stephens
  • Age: 43
  • Hometown: Keighley, England
  • Living in: The Netherlands
  • Favorite Food: Most Indian Cuisine and also Sushi, something I have got into eating much more often over the past 18 months.
  • Must Read Book: The Life you Imagine- Derek Jeter it’s a great read for kids starting out with a desire to achieve something, and adults looking for a new challenge can take a lot from it as it follows his will to win and achieve from youth up until the end of his baseball career.

GAV: Tell us a bit about yourself, we want to know who Dominic really is, one of the founders of Slots-Guide.eu. Where were you born? What was the key idea of developing this great website?

Dominic: Hi there, thanks for the interview and thanks for recognizing Slots Guide and all the hard work we have put in to it! 
Both myself, and my brother and business partner Matt were born in England but have spent most of our lives in the Netherlands aside from a few years at university back in England. I am an international civil servant and inspect and monitor sites around the globe.

So how did Slots Guide come about? Well Matt built a few websites in the past: a fantasy football website which was really successful with a couple of hundred players that joined. He also built a humour website back in the 90’s which was on a free host and had 2 million unique visitors before the free host closed it down as it was taxing their servers too much! We grew up in the

Netherlands at a time when it was very easy to play slot machines, in bars, snackbars, cafes, etc, from an early age, and so it became a hobby of ours learning and playing new machines, finding programming errors which would make it easy to generate wins, but also learning how to cope with losses (of which there were many of course).

For me this interest in the gaming side of things actually led to me holding a position as country manager for The Netherlands for Poker Heaven, an online poker site which sadly no longer exists. In the role which I held alongside my full time job I had a lot of contact with players, the affiliate team, and with affiliate websites who did business with Poker Heaven and other online poker rooms.

Thinking back to the times we had spent playing slots-machines we often found ourselves discussing what it would have been like to have had a medium like the internet back then, a reference point where we could discuss with like minded individuals, and having easy access to more information than we could glean from just playing the games ourselves. As such we decided to research how the information was presented on the internet and we were pretty disgusted at the amount of poor quality and often downright dangerous review and so called advice sites out there that we knew there was – and still is – room for more honest sites. 
So with all our experience with slot machines, my experience of the affiliate game in the online poker side of things, and Matt’s experience of web design, it seemed a natural move to start an online gaming website together.

GAV: Are you doing this full time? Was there a moment when you have switched from your daily job to being a full time affiliate?

Dominic: At the moment we both have full time jobs, and have given ourselves until the end of 2016 before we make a decision on whether one, or both of us go full time working on slots-guide and some other projects we have and plan to release in the future. To be honest though we are already finding that we could do with being full time so that we can give the volume of viewers that is expanding on an almost daily basis the fresh content and honest reviews that they deserve. Let’s face it, there are new online gaming portals springing up all over the place, and we have made it our goal to make sure our viewers get reviews they can rely on, before signing up. As long as we are able to keep up with the pace then we will keep the day jobs, but full time might be sooner rather than later for working on the site(s).

GAV: What are the key markets you are targeting?

Dominic: We haven’t really targeted any specific market as we want the information we put out to be relevant to people from all markets. We have highlighted a number of countries in terms of putting up country specific pages where people can find many sites that accept players from that country, whether it be by having customer support in that language, or because they have specific promotions for people from that country, but we don’t restrict ourselves to information from those countries.

GAV: Since there are thousands of casino review websites out there, and the especially the slots market is quite ruff, where do you think Slots-Guide.eu stands now?

Dominic: New sites spring up every day with lots of people wanting to try and get a piece of the pie as soon as possible. We gave ourselves some clear goals in terms of where we wanted to be after 6, 12 and 24 months of operating the site, and due to the fact that we have full time employment and don’t need to live off of the site revenue, our only financial goal was to try to cover hosting and other costs. Needless to say we have managed to achieve every goal we set ourselves, and add to the list of new goals on a monthly basis. Rough market or not we are enjoying the ride 🙂

GAV: What are the strong points of the website and what makes it stand out from the niche websites? We can certainly say it jumps out of the routine websites…the design is really appealing. I think you’ve recently done a re-design….

Dominic: Yes we have done a recent re-design, and in fact are tweaking things on a regular basis. We are not afraid to try something new, and use analytical tools to see how each and every change impacts on page views and visitor behavior. One Key point for us is that we don’t want the site to become a banner farm and I am sure you will agree that we are managing that. Another stand out feature of the site is that we are continually adding pages and information to our gambling addiction section. This is something close to our hearts and it is a section we have set up with the aim of providing at least some reliable point of contact for help for people from as many countries in the world as we can possibly can.

GAV: What were the bumps on your road when you got started and how did you overcome them?

Dominic: There are small bumps every week. Learning about SEO, redesigning and reorganizing the website, learning about WordPress, you name it! The site will never be complete and we will never be 100% happy with it. But that’s what it is all about if you want to be a success. 
The biggest single bump though is what we like to call “Forumgate” which was where the forum we tried to start got spammed by a couple of thousand bot accounts in a single weekend. Somebody found a flaw in the forum software and used our site as part of a link network. After trying to fix it we decided to remove the entire forum and have been playing clean up ever since!

GAV: We have browsed your website and found some high quality content. Are you writing it by yourself or you have a team of people writing your editorials?

Dominic: Initially Matt was doing most of the writing and I was focused on the social media side of things, and much of the original content was his work. Now I am writing a lot more of the content, we have similar writing styles and know how we want to put our message across, which makes it easier than farming it out and then having to edit everything to fit the “house” style. That being said, we have two or three writers whom are all capable of writing things the way we like it without guidance, and so you will find 10-15 pages that have been written by a Canadian, a Finn, or an Australian, and we aim to use them more and more as we progress.

GAV: How do you keep the content fresh and devoid of clutter when a lot of fluff and nonsense appear on the Internet on a daily basis?

Dominic: If we feel something is relevant to our readers, and if it fits the line that we have taken in terms of our strategy then we will write about it. Yes we could have twice the number of pages on the website if we wanted to, but our many first time readers can read a lot of articles on tens of websites, we want them to join our band of return visitors because of the original content we provide them.

GAV: We are sure that you receive daily messages from Affiliate Managers showcasing their products. You of course select them by the brands they work with; but what are your thoughts on how Affiliate Manager-Affiliate relationships should be built?

Dominic: Yes we get messages from affiliate managers on an almost daily basis, and we aren’t able to process them all immediately which often lead to another manager from the same group getting in touch with us as well. We always do extensive checks on the rooms that we put up, and look at a number of key factors in order to give them one of our ratings. Just because someone offers 70% commission for the first X number of months doesn’t mean that they will feature on our site, if they have a proven bad reputation then they can offer whatever they like, we won’t be adding them to the site. We would rather have 1 reputable site giving us 25% that three rogues giving us 70% because our readers have come to rely on our ratings as a solid indicator of where they can play.

GAV: How do you see the future of the gambling industry? For instance, will it become a truly global phenomenon in the near future?

Dominic: It already is a global phenomenon, and regulated markets are the future of online gaming. Without regulation people will continue to be scammed by rogues, and the shady side will continue to take a slice of the market. We want to see the regulation as it gives players an added degree of protection, and it means that taxes will be spent on counseling and addiction help in general, and brings the industry out in to day light instead of it being seen to be hiding on the edge of darkness.

GAV: Can you name one change that you want to see in the casino affiliate ecosystem?

Dominic: We want to see better player protection, and on our site we have a petition for a universal self-exclusion system. Currently a player with a problem can get excluded from one casino (although often with far too much paper work) but can easily sign up elsewhere. Having a one stop system for self-exclusion as part of a charter for all casinos would be our ultimate goal.

GAV: What advise you would like to offer to the new affiliates who are looking to venture into this great industry?

Dominic: Don’t think you can get rich overnight, and provide your readers with honest and open information, and see them as people and not just as a source of revenue.

GAV: What about SEO, are the ongoing Google algorithm updates influencing your ranking? If so, is it a positive or negative way?

Dominic: There is a lot to be said about these algorithms, yes it means that you constantly have to keep abreast of the way they work to maintain and improve your rankings, but it does mean that if you have fresh and original items to put on the web you will be rewarded. You see that a lot of large websites feature in the top because of the old way of doing things, and they are more than happy to ride that wave, but now the algorithms give people a chance to get seen as long as they are putting in the work and making sure that work is theirs.

GAV: Who is your favorite celebrity?

Dominic: Robin Williams has to be my number one of all time. A comic genius with a troubled mind, something more people suffer from than care to admit. I would also rate David Beckham as one of my favorites, not particularly because of his soccer skills, but more how he handles himself in the public eye, and how he is teaching his kids to go through life. Someone with so much positive and negative exposure who is able to act the way he does is a great example to many of the rich celebrities out there. (Derek Jeter as well, as I mentioned in my favorite book reply).

GAV: If you would just open your YouTube search bar, what would you search for?

Dominic: Stand up comedy and, some of my “feel good” music clips I have in my favorites.

GAV: Back to work. Do you attend any iGaming conferences? If so, which one is your favorite and what is your most fun experience?

Dominic: I attended some when I was country manager for poker heaven, but with the current job (I travel 120+ days a year) and my young family, I haven’t managed to get to any since starting slots-guide.eu We do intend to go to the Amsterdam event this year though.

GAV: What is your opinion overall about affiliate conferences such as SiGMA?

SiGMA-logo

Dominic: Not having attended SiGMA (yet) I can’t really comment, but the information I have been able to get from others and on the internet, it is certainly one that we will be attending in the future. It is easy to do business from behind a computer screen, but you do need face to face contact with people in the affiliate game in order to get the kind of personal relationship which makes that little bit extra out of the business.

GAV: How do you rate the chances of Eastern Europe becoming potential gaming hotspot of the future? Where do you think the region must improve upon?

Dominic: Given the number of very good affiliate managers we are seeing from Eastern European countries, and the number of eastern Europeans already employed in the Live Casino platforms of many online casinos, I think the start has already been made. I can see major operators shifting their base from countries like Israel to Eastern Europe in the short to mid-term as the environment is certainly there, good infrastructure, well trained ICT staff, good English speakers, and a great work ethic are a just a few of the many factors the “big boys” will also already be noticing. Add to this the great work companies like eegaming.org are doing to further develop the industry in the region, and the hotspot will certainly be here sooner rather than later.

In terms of improvement, the region as a whole needs to promote itself more, both as a place of well-trained individuals and as an area with a very solid Internet platform and infrastructure. India became very well known for its IT professionals, and many companies moved their business there in the 90’s, taking advantage of the infrastructure to set up their call centers and other key assets. Taking a lesson from how India did things would be a good start in getting a chunk of the boom.

We have interviewed a number of affiliate managers and people in the online gaming business in general, including one or two from Eastern Europe, and we will continue to do this and publish them as we do really like the work ethic and the personality of those from Eastern Europe that we have dealings with.

GAV: Alright, here comes the fun part…., where would you like to travel in Eastern Europe, some part of the region maybe that you haven’t visited yet and favorite destination around the world.

Dominic: For my day job I travel 120+ days per year as I mentioned, and have spent a lot of time in Russia, Serbia, Slovakia and Czech Republic, some great places and some fantastic food!

Favourite destination in the world has to be San Diego, a great city with a great year round warm (16-25c) climate, but Reims in France comes a very close second together with Krusevac. Of course I have to mention Las Vegas as well, a stunning place, and one that I would have to say everyone should visit once in their life, gamblers and non-gamblers alike!

GAV: Where you wouldn’t want to travel in Eastern Europe?

Dominic: I have mentioned in a previous interview that Moscow and Bratislava have some places that I would prefer not to go back to, but of course the same can be said for 99% of the big cities in the world. I certainly wouldn’t cross any place off my list of places to go based on comments from others, as good and bad times can be had by anyone anywhere. Because of my travel though I have gained a good sense of when a place is not right, and in those cases I simply make sure I get out a soon as possible.

GAV: What is your opinion about GAV (Gambling Affiliate Voice – gamblingaffiliatevoice.com)?

Dominic: We are really liking the work that you have been putting in, and are really happy to see that your mission statement is obviously so close to that of ours! Keep it up!

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Affiliate Success

Three-peat for the King Billy Affiliate Program at the SBC Awards!

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Three-peat for the King Billy Affiliate Program at the SBC Awards!

 

We should know by now that King Billy Casino was bound to be in the limelight for one more time. True to the words of the great Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho “Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time.”, King Billy does it for the third time in a row.

So, after being shortlisted at the prestigious iGB Awards (and from there, winning it all), being shortlisted again at the prestigious EGR Awards, the King Billy Affiliate Program has now also been shortlisted at the prestigious SBC Awards (event to be held on December 3). Moreover, the operator is also on the SBC Awards short list for Casino Rising Star.

We asked the mastermind behind this tremendous streak, Ruslan Legenzov, King Billy Head of Affiliates to share his feelings with us and a few words about this new distinction. He was, understandably, in a state of euphoria:

“This is beyond our wildest dreams! To complete the “Big 3” of the industry’s annual biggest awards shows, by being short-listed in each and every one of them fills us all with immense pride. At King Billy Casino, we set out with a single goal in mind: to move beyond the commission and offer to our affiliates a program never seen before. We are happy that our effort is recognized by both judges and Affiliates!”

The SBC Awards, now in its 6th year, recognize the achievements of operators, affiliates and suppliers from across all major disciplines including payments, marketing, platform providers and data. The Awards will be held at Battersea Evolution, in the heart of London, bringing together 700 gaming industry delegates.

King Billy Casino is a new generation online casino, available in 5 languages (English, German, Russian, Finnish and Norwegian and soon Japanese) with an impressive record in awards and an amazing variety of games providers and features. King Billy has built on creating a superb user experience focusing on the myth of King Billy and his Kingdom and treats all players with the specialness they deserve.

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First Georgia iGaming Affiliate Conference: What Was Discussed at the Event?

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First Georgia iGaming Affiliate Conference: What Was Discussed at the Event?

 

On October 18, Smile-Expo held the first Georgia iGaming Affiliate Conference in Tbilisi. The event was dedicated to the specific nature of online and offline gambling business operations, Georgian gambling market prospects, and casino promotion using affiliate marketing.

The conference brought together casino managers, affiliate network representatives, government officials, webmasters, arbitrage experts, SEO specialists, as well as gambling regulation and taxation professionals.

Speakers’ presentations

Sviatoslav Slaboshpitskiy, Head of SEO at Digital Choo (DC), spoke on the topic: The Art of War in SEO: How to Win the iGaming Niche. The speaker stressed that one should develop niche websites to achieve efficient results. At the same time, it is significant to analyze the response and to evolve resources showing the best performance. Sviatoslav also talked about the rules of SEO team building. The expert recommended entrusting the content creation to single-discipline specialists as well as developing checklists and tutorials for newcomers.

Dmitriy Makarov, CEO at Zlodei Advertising Agency, and Gleb Sanzharevsky, CMO at Zlodei, made a collaborative presentation dedicated to ad placement on YouTube and Twitch. They explained that promotion via influencers could increase conversion better than direct advertising. The experts stressed that user stories and popular memes made ads more fruitful.

Nikola Minkov, CEO at Serpact, examined the application of the so-called Featured Snippets, zero blocks in the search results. According to the speaker, Google provides users with such snippets in 40% of the queries. They allow online resources to generate organic traffic and enhance the click-through rate.

The audience was intrigued by Ketevan Bitskinashvili, Chief Financial Officer at the Ministry of Finance of Georgia. The speaker told them about the special features of the Georgian gambling market regulation. She mentioned that the cost of gambling permissions depended on a venue type, a target region, and a number of installed gambling machines. The same parameters affect tax rates.

Ms. Ketevan stated that Georgia had already issued 214 gambling licenses. 20 casinos are operating in the country now. 10 of them are located in Batumi and its suburbs, 6 in Tbilisi, and one each in Gudauri, Tskhaltubo, Kazbegi, and Sighnaghi.

Giorgi Gvenetadze from Adjarabet raised an issue of online casino customer acquisition. The speaker believes that the core feature of advertising banners used by Georgian casinos is the availability of luxury car images. Besides, promotion messages mostly appeal to senses of beauty, control, and simplicity.

Panel discussion

The conference featured a panel discussion titled ‘Offline and online casinos. Review of tools for the competition for user attention’. It involved:

Shota Amiranashvili, President of the Association of casinos in Adjara;

Levan Kavtaradze, Director of Gaming department at Pokermatch;

Giorgi Gvenetadze, Head of Product Marketing Department at Adjarabet;

Lavrentiy Gubin from Shangri La Casino, an invited guest.

Experts said that primary advantages of land-based casinos included reach experience of the gaming process, expensive surroundings, and staff attentiveness. Virtual gambling platforms are lack of these aspects. Therefore, discussion participants think that offline gambling venues will never shift to the online space.

Speaking about the most in-demand gambling entertainments, specialists highlighted simple and user-friendly games like roulettes. Moreover, they noted that poker was becoming less popular because of the high buy-in. Currently, we can see a crypto casino trend, as such platforms ensure anonymity.

Participants also focused on the state regulation of the gambling market. According to them, countries failing to regulate the gambling business lose money that could go to the government budget as taxes. One more fact specified: gambling advertising bans give an impetus to look for new audience engagement channels.

Afterparty

The conference ended with a party. Guests, speakers, exhibitors, and sponsors were able to enjoy live music, Georgian sweets, beverages, and snacks. The afterparty allowed participants to communicate in a relaxed atmosphere and establish useful business contacts.

We express our gratitude to the Afterparty Sponsor, NOFLEAD gambling resource, helping to carry out the afterparty in an extremely comfortable environment.

Sponsors, exhibitors, and participants

Companies offering various iGaming goods and services introduced their solutions and services in the exhibition area. Event sponsors were exhibitors as well.

Badge and Bag Sponsor: Digital Choo, an international marketing agency with deep expertise in gaming.

Exhibition Area Sponsor: SoftGamings, a provider of advanced В2В solutions for online casinos.

Afterparty Sponsor: NOFLEAD, an online gambling resource aimed at both beginners and experienced gamblers.

Lanyard Sponsor: ZLODEI, an advertising agency with deep expertise in native advertising.

By the way, attendees were able to examine a stand by IBCCS TAX, an international company providing a wide range of fiduciary services.

Another event participant was Partners.io, an affiliate network for cryptocurrency gambling programs.

The Smile-Expo team expresses its gratitude to sponsors, speakers, and exhibitors for participation in the conference. We look forward to seeing you at the next events dedicated to gambling and affiliate marketing.

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Affiliate Success

What does “beyond the commission” mean for King Billy? A short list (at least) at the EGR Awards!

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What does “beyond the commission” mean for King Billy? A short list (at least) at the EGR Awards!

 

King Billy Casino has been making quite some noise with its Affiliate Program this year. The program has gained momentum and achieved wide recognition from Affiliates, both established and upcoming, which is something not to be taken lightly, given the, ahem, unpredictable mentality and demands of the Affiliate world.

According to King Billy, this is a program that promises to take the casino – affiliates relationship to a new, mythical level “beyond the commission”. You may wonder (as we did) what lands lie beyond the commission. Is the first stop Valhalla? El Dorado? Shangri La? Camelot? Mount Olympus?

Much closer actually: It is the luxurious Grosvenor House on London’s Park Lane, home of the 2019 EGR Awards. The King Billy Affiliates Program has been short-listed in the Affiliate Program Category and we asked Ruslan Legenzov, Head of Affiliates at King Billy Casino, to share his feelings with us.

The excitement never gets old! Congratulations to the whole department at King Billy, our “King’s Servants” who make this possible. Also, a big thanks to our Marketing and Creative Department for helping us move beyond the commission exactly the way our affiliates want.

Following our biggest distinction to date, the award at the 2019 iGB Awards, this is one more proof that we are doing something extremely well at King Billy Casino. Obviously, after being short-listed, we‘d like to go all the way, but we are well aware of the top level and the quality of all the nominees. So, see you at Grosvenor House and may the best operator win!”

The reputable EGR Operator Awards reward B2C operators for setting the standard in egaming excellence, with categories ranging from customer service to social responsibility, and recognizing achievements across all verticals. The 2019 Awards will take place on the evening of Thursday 24 October at Grosvenor House, London.

King Billy Casino is a new generation online casino, available in several languages (English, German, Russian, Finnish, Norwegian and soon Japanese) with an impressive record in awards and distinctions. The King Billy Affiliates Program has already won the 2019 iGB Awards Affiliate Program of the Year award.

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