While the USA sorts out its first legal online casino websites, the offshore online gambling world continues to turn, with increasingly mixed results. Now, more than ever, it seems the casino who can process payments is the one that gets the players, notwithstanding poor customer service, slow payouts, or crappy operating software.
When comparing the first 90 days of 2013 to 2012, we noticed roughly the same (or more) people signing up to play in 2013, but dramatically less conversions. Are casinos running bad promotions? Are processors running out of luck? Is the casino’s “conversion” team on lunch break?
If you didn’t already know: a conversion team, or inbound sales team, will typically email or call anyone who signs up at a casino to convince them to deposit. High-end affiliates almost always have someone calling their leads, while smaller affiliates have to wait until their traffic naturally converts before getting special attention.
As usual, casino affiliate programs are big on two things: false promises and bad excuses. We’ve sent dozens of signups to various USA facing affiliate programs in recent months, with only a handful converting into depositors. Naturally, the casino affiliate managers send emails asking for more players, and we respond with “convert the ones I’ve already sent”, to which they respond, “you need to send more signups before we can dedicate the sales team to your leads”.
While a statistically significant sample of signups DOES need to be in the books before judging what is and is NOT working, we would think online casinos would want to convert EVERY customer, regardless of their origin. That type of thinking is akin to turning people away from big-ticket clothing stores because they enter in blue jeans instead of wearing a designer suit. The blue jeans customer might be in the store to spend money because all they have is blue jeans, while the better dressed shopper could just be browsing. NEVER turn away a human body from your website or storefront. It’s bad business, period.
Returning to the demanding affiliate managers, the “send more players and we’ll convert them” discussion goes round and round for months. For all we know, the signups are being converted into house accounts (shaved) and we’re being blamed for sending shoddy traffic which in reality is turning a big profit for the casino merchant. Such is the case with the unregulated offshore gambling business: you have to take the good with the bad, and you must assume that at some point you’re going to get screwed no matter how much traffic you send.
Remember the once popular C-planet affiliate program (Rushmore Casino, Cherry Red, Slot Oasis)? They turned out the lights, leaving affiliates high and dry while they collected full profits on active players in their casinos. Their excuse was “the team that programmed our affiliate tracking software hijacked it and we’re attempting to restore service. Please bear with us.” Affiliates bore with it for a couple months (and we gave them 3 because we had a significant number of players in our account) before pulling links and realizing it was all a scam. Nothing really can be done about it. The players continue to play in blissful ignorance, the casino owners continue to profit, and affiliates continue to search for a program that actually keeps its word.
To be fair to the “good” affiliate programs who track traffic legitimately, it’s possible our websites are just getting crappy traffic, spam signups, or people registering multiple accounts. When the human auditors on the other end catch up to the sketchy signups, our stats are naturally redacted to report only authentic signups and depositors. That’s fine if it is truly the case.
Generally speaking, the “your traffic is crap” excuse from an affiliate programs can only last so long. If you’re not purposely generating accounts or paying people $10 to signup by Paypal, (against the terms and conditions of most affiliate programs), what reason does a spammer have to continually create accounts through your links, other than to sabotage your reputation with the affiliate program (a more advanced form of guerilla marketing that most people don’t have the resources to implement)? Sure, 100 workers in an Asian call center can be hired at Odesk.com for $2 an hour to signup at various casinos, but other than the ability to play Flash based casino games or download the software, there’s not much more that can be done. Eventually paying people to signup will cease when you run out of money or people wise up to the fact that you never intended to pay them in the first place .
Will all these hijinks disappear once the USA market in full swing? If you’re still marketing offshore brands, it’s possible the dodgy affiliate programs will become so desperate for players that they will have no choice but to “go honest”. There’s no way an online casino in San Jose, Costa Rica can compete with the marketing might of a well established Las Vegas casino-resort brand. If you’re switching over to only promote USA properties, the shenanigans might disappear but your income will drop a bit because revenue-sharing programs will NOT be made available (and why would they be?).
There’s still hope for Joe Average affiliate with a couple hobby websites: wait until the USA market is cooking along and there is significantly less red tape involved in becoming an affiliate partner of these brands (Jon Friedman and Pokertrip Enterprises aside). Once big name USA casino brands realize that hiring affiliates through a simple signup form and social security number for taxes is much easier than clearing the Nevada Gaming Control Board, the rest of us can jump back in the game.
Good Luck from JaxCasinos.com!