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Affiliate Interviews: Toni Halonen, Co-founder & CEO of Good Game

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Affiliate Interviews: Toni Halonen, Co-founder & CEO of Good Game

Good Game is an iGaming lead generation company based in Malta. Good Game differentiates itself from its competitors by concentrating only on a handful of sites, focusing on user intent and creating recognisable brands from these few sites. Long-term value for the user and partners has been the key to their success in the Finnish casino affiliate market.

Name: Toni Halonen

Age: 34

Hometown: Ilomantsi, Finland

Living in: Malta

Favourite Food: Traditional Finnish home cooking, Japanese, Indian, Thai

Must-Read Book: The Lord of The Rings, The War of Art

Job Title: Co-founder & CEO

Hi Toni, tell us and our readers a little bit about Good Game. How did your career start in the industry?

I’ve always been fascinated by all sorts of games, be it sports, computer games, board games or gambling. I opened my first online casino account when I turned 18 and started dabbling with online poker around 2004.

After finishing my studies in 2008, I started thinking what I should do for a living and it was then that I came across poker affiliation. The idea of having my own site came to me in 2008, but it took one year of the “real working life” before I jumped into playing poker professionally and chasing my affiliate dream. 🙂

Luckily I wasn’t alone in this, because my childhood friend, Ville Sissonen, also played online poker and showed an interest in affiliation. Our half-serious, half-joke motto in the beginning was: “maximising the passive income”. 🙂 Passwords to our affiliate accounts were always something like “BuyM3rc3d3s2010” back in the day, haha. I still don’t have a Mercedes, but Ville bought his first this year. (The passwords have since been changed, so no point trying to log in. 😉 )

Good Game was established in Malta in 2011 by me and Ville. We came to Malta to play online poker professionally and build affiliate sites on the side. The affiliate business only really started to pay off after our Head of SEO, Jussi Kauppinen, joined the company in 2013. During that time, we also began concentrating only on casino affiliation.

We sold our then main domain in 2015 and went all-in with the money from the first sale straight into building our next project – this time in an actual office 🙂 and with a team of ten people. That project came to an end at the beginning of this year when our main casino site was bought. Now we’re concentrating solely on our UK project.

Explain your current UK project, Bojoko.com, in one sentence.

Airbnb for online casinos.

What makes it different from other casino affiliate sites based on player communities, casino reviews and social proof?

The biggest difference from our competitors is that Bojoko allows casinos and game suppliers to create their own reviews, and publish their own offers and game reviews. This way they can control their brand (tone of voice, design etc.) beyond their own website and ensure that affiliate marketing for their brand is done according to the UK Gambling Commission’s standards.

Casinos and game suppliers have understood this concept well. New casinos have been especially keen on listing themselves on Bojoko.

What’s the reason behind launching Bojoko? In other words, why does Bojoko exist?

There are a couple of reasons why we’ve built Bojoko. First of all, we wanted to minimise the role of an affiliate in everything the user sees and interacts with on the site. Secondly, we see a big gap in how iGaming is consumed compared to other industries operating online. Selecting, playing and transfering money to casinos could be a lot more fluid and safer than it is now.

Our purpose is to build tools for Bojoko users, which they can then use to create this more fluid, safer vision of iGaming. We want to positively transform the iGaming user experience. This way we can establish casino games as an acceptable mainstream pastime too.

How do you see the UK market?

It’s certainly more competitive than the Finnish casino affiliation market and there are many more established brands which are almost non-existent in Finland. It’s a good challenge to build a site for a large market.

Tell us one change that you want to see in the online gambling industry?

I’d like to see all forms of online gambling becoming as accepted in the mainstream as lotteries are. Offering more user-centric products and safer gambling will move the needle to the right direction. There are good initiatives underway in the UK in these two areas, although I’d like to see us, the gambling companies, driving this change and not relying or waiting for regulators to do it. There’s a much bigger pie waiting to be shared in the long run if iGaming becomes a widely accepted and respected industry.

Do you have any advice for newbies who are looking to venture into casino affiliation?

You should constantly ask yourself questions which reveal what kind of person you are. This helps you find the values and ideals you want to push forward in the industry you’re working in. It will also boost your motivation immensely and endow you with a more holistic approach to building your business.

What do you think will be the biggest trends in iGaming in 2018?

Regulation is one, for sure. It will bring new rules to online gambling once again, but it also brings predictability (such as in Sweden) and new markets (US sports betting) to the table. Predictability and new markets are great things for the entire online gambling industry.

What other new things can we expect from Good Game and Bojoko in the second half of 2018?

Bojoko has just rolled out a new tool which helps users tremendously in their casino selection. The tool is attached to our casino lists and lets users filter and sort online casinos easily with over 30 different data points so you can really get to the one casino that satisfies all your requirements. Just like hunting for the perfect vacation home on Airbnb.

In the coming months, we’ll be focusing on bringing more user features like this to Bojoko. They will help users mainly in two ways:

  • Selecting online casinos more quickly and easily
  • Interacting with other Bojoko users in our community

If you find this interesting, the best way to stay tuned to Bojoko and join in the fun is to sign up on the site.

Affiliate Success

iGaming Focus Areas and СРА Selection to Be Discussed at Kyiv iGaming Affiliate Conference

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iGaming Focus Areas and СРА Selection to Be Discussed at Kyiv iGaming Affiliate Conference

 

The second Kyiv iGaming Affiliate Conference organized by Smile-Expo will come back to the capital of Ukraine on September 26. Relevant case studies, networking, and afterparty: the conference program will be as efficient and useful as possible.

 

What issues will be raised by speakers

Kyiv iGaming Affiliate Conference will involve expert speakers: webmasters, affiliates, arbitrage specialists, marketers, and specialized lawyers. Presentations by most of them sparked the great interest of the audience at the previous event. This time, professionals will introduce new presentations and recent case studies of their practice.

  • Tatiana Nasonova, CEO at Gambling Pro and an arbitrage expert, will analyze why advertisers and affiliates need to work closely to reach the maximum result. She will talk about core factors in the brand confidence as well as explain how advertisers can offer the best possible conditions to webmasters so that it won’t cost a bundle. At the past event in Kyiv, the speaker revealed how to enhance the conversion of your own offer tenfold. Tatiana is a frequent guest at international events as well as the founder of ‘Tough Arbitrage of St. Petersburg’ and Black Inc public pages.
  • Roman Bout, Founder of Quints – a developer of affiliate program software, will illustrate how operators can seamlessly shift from Revenue Share to CPA and stress the importance of the registration to deposit conversion when selecting the СРА model. Besides, the speaker will mention special features of player behaviors and traffic analysis. At the first Kyiv iGaming Affiliate Conference, Roman shared examples of the high-quality support increasing online casino revenues and gave use cases of reducing the customer attrition by 50%.
  • Viacheslav Ustimenko, CEO at LAWBOOT and an expert in legal consulting of IT, fintech, and gambling companies, will tell attendees about the legal difference in gambling, games of skill, and loot box projects as well as examine pros and cons of work with them. Moreover, conference guests will discover all about the banking compliance in 2019 from the expert: what has changed since 2018, what should be taken into account, what is already inefficient in comparison with the last year. At the previous conference, Viacheslav clarified where to register a company for the affiliate program and why the GDPR was a significant aspect for iGaming company operations.

“LP and LLP partnerships are no longer legal solutions. If you need a reliable banking account, change LP for Hong Kong,” the expert stated.

For the first time, Kyiv iGaming Affiliate Conference will engage Vitaliy Stetsenko, a speaker at top conferences and events dedicated to arbitrage, CPA, and online marketing, and the founder of Initium Group (the holding company includes RichAdvert traffic arbitrage school). As an entrepreneur and infopreneur, he frequently provides the audience with interesting arbitrage best practices. At Kyiv’s second event, Vitaliy will present workable strategies for mobile traffic arbitrage and examples of efficient creatives and advertising campaigns.

Panel discussion

The conference will feature a panel discussion allowing influencers to talk about prospects of such areas as casinos, betting, and esports. They will highlight what to emphasize this year and how to find the necessary balance between the above-mentioned sectors. The discussion will be moderated by Levon Nikoghosyan from PartnerMatrix.

Target audience

If you are an operator, a developer, a webmaster, an arbitrage specialist, an affiliate, or a SEO expert, the major affiliate marketing event is a crucial point in your schedule.

Networking and afterparty

Kyiv iGaming Affiliate Conference means not only beneficial presentations and case studies. Event guests will also be able to take part in fruitful networking and obtain new partners for cooperation as well as for business promotion and growth.

The afterparty will be available to owners of VIP tickets, sponsors, participants, and speakers. It is the best chance to negotiate on professional issues in a relaxed atmosphere.

Organizer and partners

The conference is organized by Smile-Expo, an international company that has been holding business events on innovations for 13 years. Media Gambling Sponsor of Kyiv iGaming Affiliate Conference will be a business online publication called Login Casino, while Media Sponsor will be YOGONET International Edition.

The event program can be found on the official website of Kyiv iGaming Affiliate Conference.

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Boots on the ground: What it’s like being an affiliate in the US sports betting market

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Boots on the ground: What it’s like being an affiliate in the US sports betting market
Photo Source: imgarit.pw

 

Mike Murphy, founder of BettingUSA.com, talks about the challenges and opportunities that await those getting in on the action in the US sports betting affiliate sector

The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in May 2018 has unleashed a sea change in the regulated US sports betting market.

What was once illegal and the realm of shadowy offshore sportsbooks has now come into the mainstream with legal in-person and online sportsbooks slowly but surely funneling gamblers back onto regulated platforms headquartered in the United States.

Change can be uncomfortable, but it also provides opportunity. Many affiliates made a lot of money and got comfortable during the unregulated offshore days, but those days are dwindling and a new order is rising.

The question for sports betting affiliates is whether or not they will adapt to the changing environment and capitalize on the new opportunities before them. We suggest taking full advantage while the getting is good but acknowledge we will all face challenges moving forwards.

Let’s consider what we face and what we stand to gain.

Challenges Facing Affiliates in the Legal US Sports Betting Market

The greatest opportunities in life always come with challenges, and the newly-regulated sports betting market in the United States is no exception.

The good news is these challenges will sharpen and diversify your skills. Overcoming these challenges will make you a better, smarter and more well-rounded affiliate.

You will also find these challenges act as a sort of filter such that when you emerge on the other side, your competition will be reduced in number. The competitors who remain will be skilled affiliates like yourself, but there will be fewer of you competing for a piece of the action.

Higher Quality Competition

The regulated online gambling and sports betting market in the US has already attracted the attention of big players with deep pockets. The quality of websites that appear in search results is a night-and-day difference compared to just a few years ago when the only real opportunities to make money as a US-focused gambling affiliate were either questionably legal or outright illegal.

Legalization and regulation have resulted in major media companies finally entering the US market now that they can do so in a fully legal and transparent manner. These companies have big budgets, hire the best writers and churn out high quality websites in bulk.

Competing against these types of affiliates is challenging, and there are no indications things are going to get any easier. If you’re an independent affiliate with a website, you have your work cut out for you. The bigger companies can outspend you and likely have better connections.

That doesn’t mean there is no room left for independent affiliates like some of the doomsayers have taken to claiming of late. It just means you’ll need to be agile, pick your target markets carefully and cultivate a real relationship with your viewers.

New Licensing and Compliance Hurdles

One of the most challenging and frustrating hurdles we see in the US market today is the introduction of regulations that impact affiliates. States such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania require all affiliates to acquire a license in order to make money promoting licensed sites to players in those states.

The magnitude of this challenge remains to be seen as additional states pass legalization laws. New Jersey’s affiliate licensing process really isn’t all that difficult. Getting licensed in Pennsylvania has proven to be fairly complicated. Meanwhile, we have seen no indications affiliates need to be licensed in West Virginia.

The types of laws passed in the future will determine the true startup costs associated with licensing. Our best advice to smaller affiliates here is to target states in which the licensing hurdles are minimal or nonexistent and build out from there.

Additional compliance hurdles are likely to materialize at some point as well. We can look to recent developments in the UK online sports betting industry for a preview of what may come in the future.

Advertisers in the UK are subject to an increasingly complicated set of rules regarding how to promote gambling responsibly, for example. The US has not gotten to this point yet, but it is worth keeping in mind additional regulatory hurdles remain a distinct possibility.

A Fractured Market

Online sports betting and gambling are regulated at the state level, which means the rules vary from state to state. You may need an affiliate license in one state but not another. A particular betting site may be available in one state, but not in the next one over.

This means you’ll need to take a state-by-state approach to your affiliate business by promoting particular sites to visitors from particular states. Some operators have opened shop in multiple states, but you’ll need to stay on top of which sportsbooks are available where so you can direct your visitors to the proper websites.

The upside to this challenge is it too provides opportunity. As legal sports betting spreads across the US, people are going to have many questions regarding the law, where they can bet online legally, where to find licensed mobile betting apps and much more. Affiliates are well-suited to educate consumers and earn some money at the same time.

Opportunities

Now that we have the biggest challenges out of the way, we can move on to the fun stuff: the opportunities that await affiliates who are able to deal with the aforementioned obstacles. The United States presents some very big opportunities for those intrepid affiliates who dare tackle this market.

There is A Lot of Money to be Made

The US online sports betting market has enormous potential for simple reasons. The US has a large population, it has a pro-sports culture and the people have high levels of disposable income.

We also have a strong pro-gambling culture with hundreds of casinos spread across the US and widespread familiarity with sports betting even if it was limited (officially anyways) to Nevada for several decades.

Consider this: The American Gaming Association (AGA) has estimated that one quarter of the US population participated in a sports pool in 2017. The AGA has also estimated Americans already wager upwards of $150 billion per year on sports through illegal channels. That is a lot of pent up demand.

This isn’t just us talking up the industry – major industry players have been staking their claims in anticipation of widespread legalization. Caesars Entertainment, FOX Sports and even Buffalo Wild Wings have all made moves to position themselves for a piece of the pie.

Some affiliates have already made a fortune even though the industry is just now gearing up. We have seen multiple eight-figure sales of sports-oriented affiliate websites in recent times for monthly multiples that would have been unthinkable during the turbulent, uncertain offshore sports betting days.

Case in point: The Better Collective Group recently purchased 60% of the RotoGrinders network for $21 million up front, plus a plan to purchase the remaining 40% “at a valuation based upon an EBITDA multiple between 5x and 10x.”

We also saw Catena Media purchase BonusSeeker last March for $6.5 million with a potential additional payout of $9.5 million based on performance after two years. Mind you, this was before the Supreme Court decision. BonusSeeker was restricted to legal online casinos in New Jersey at the time, and still it sold for that much.

The financial potential for affiliates is almost overwhelming to consider, and yet the industry is still just getting started. Many more states have yet to pass legislation to legalize online sports betting and gambling.

Industry is Ripe for Innovation and New Ideas

This is an exciting time to be an affiliate with operators and traditional media companies alike exploring the possibilities of legal sports betting. We’ve seen the likes of PointsBet hit the market with innovative new ways to bet on games while other operators have greatly expanded their in-play wagering capabilities.

The United States, home to Silicon Valley, has a strong culture of innovation. Even though the European markets have had a lengthy head start when it comes to legal sports betting, nobody can innovate like motivated US companies.

Not only does this make it more exciting and interesting to be an affiliate, but it gives affiliates even more opportunities to show value by answering questions and sharing interesting updates with viewers.

It is Still Early in the Game

The US online gambling industry is still in its infancy. Yes, some of the bigger affiliate networks have already paid millions for well-established websites, but we haven’t even come close to reaching peak saturation.

Consider the acquisitions discussed above: BonusSeeker being purchased for $6.5 million up front with a final sale price of up to $9.5 million after two years; 60% of the RotoGrinders network being purchased for $21 million up front with a very real chance of the final deal being realized for $50 million or more a few years from now.

Consider that these purchases happened when the majority of states still haven’t legalized online sports betting or gambling. Major affiliate companies are not paying that much money for digital assets just for fun. They see the market potential. They know the US market is just barely getting started.

Now, imagine the types of buyouts that will be possible after 20, 30 or 40 states have legalized online sports betting – or if Congress steps in and passes nationwide legislation.
We see the occasional discussion among smaller affiliates bemoaning the “corporatization” of the affiliate business.

Some will tell you it’s too late to get in the game now with the likes of Catena Media and Better Collective out there spending millions on marketing, acquisitions and staff.

It’s true the level of competition has increased and affiliates do have to jump through new hoops with licensing requirements in some states, but the market is still just barely getting started. Those challenges can be overcome, and the rewards will be very much worth the trouble.

There are plenty of opportunities even for the lonely one-man operation. Those who work hard and provide informative or entertaining content have a world of opportunity open to them with the US market just now getting off the ground.

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Last Chance to Join Zurich iGaming Affiliate Conference: Event About Online Gambling Operations

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Last Chance to Join Zurich iGaming Affiliate Conference: Event About Online Gambling Operations

 

On June 21, an international event company – Smile-Expo – will hold Zurich iGaming Affiliate Conference. It is Switzerland’s only event dedicated to online gambling operations and online project promotion using affiliate marketing.

The event will be a platform for sharing experience and establishing cooperation between online casinos and land-based gambling venues.

Conference speakers and participants
The specialized event will bring together representatives of the offline and online gambling industry. It will be attended by casino managers, betting providers, SEO specialists, lawyers, affiliates, and digital agencies from the USA, France, Germany, Greece, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, and other European countries. They will introduce their companies holding leading iGaming market positions. They include: ORYX Gaming, PartnerMatrix, Endorphina, Red Tiger, Lucky Labz, Rombet, Federbet, Global Bet, Buffalo Partners, Astrea, Expozive, PLANZER LAW, etc.

Top industry experts will make relevant presentations on legal aspects of business operations, company performance optimization, and brand promotion.

Francesco Baranca: general secretary at Federbet. This Belgian non-commercial association combats fixed matches and supports betting companies and their customers.

Dan Iliovici: a specialist in business planning, management, and PR. He is former President of ONJN, the Romanian gambling authority, and Vice President at Rombet.

Robert Toth: has more than 10 years of experience in the iGaming sector. Currently, he is Key Account Manager at Global Bet, the largest independent provider of virtual sports.

Reuben Portanier: a professional with executive management experience in gambling, consultancy, technology, and finances. Director of Business Development at GTG Advocates and Founding Partner at Afilexion Alliance. These companies provide legal and consulting services. The speaker is also Co-Founder and Director at Caledo.

Joe Ewens: journalist and author of many materials dedicated to gambling. Now, he is a managing editor at GamblingCompliance, a provider of an independent legal, regulatory and business analytics in the global iGaming sector.

The conference will be followed by the Talks&Drinks party. Participants will be able to discuss critical issues as well as find new business partners and investors to implement future projects.

Location and organizer
The conference will take place at Sheraton Zurich Hotel. The registration of participants will start at 9:30 a.m.
The event is organized by Smile-Expo, a company that has been conducting international specialized В2В and В2С events for 13 years.

Hurry up to buy a ticket at the 20% discount! You should just use a promo code: PR20. Register to the conference right away.
Event details are available on the official website of Zurich iGaming Affiliate Conference.

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