iGaming in the UK: From the Perspective of Operators and Affiliates – Part 1

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The UK is a highly competitive market that is regulated by the UKGC. That being said, both operators and affiliates need to find ways to not only remain competitive in a large pool of options available to users, but also stay aligned with the laws and regulations that apply for this market. In this blog post, we have asked Mark McGuinness (MMcG), Head of Casino at The Pools (operator), and Kyle MacIsaac(KM), Account Manager at Leadstar Media (affiliate) to share some insight from their experiences working in the UK market. They shared with us what they found to be the biggest opportunities and challenges for an operator and affiliate respectively, what actions they need to take to stand out and what was necessary for a successful partnership.


The UK market is heavily regulated, so operators must take measurable steps to ensure that not only they adhere to these standards, but that the affiliate partners they work with do as well. The UKGC has numerous rules and regulations that are constantly changing; thus, operators must be at the top of their game to ensure that they don’t violate them. These include regular audits of affiliate sites to ensure that all content linked to the brand and its image is also appropriate and compliant. MMcG emphasized this as well as he said “The biggest challenges are undoubtedly headwinds around changes to the UK Gambling Act Review and the current turbulent economic woes which shall hit all consumer spending.  Many in the past have stated that gambling is somewhat of a resilient industry when economies enter recessions, however this is a black swan event never before seen in this generation, so consumers will be more discerning in what they choose to spend their money on.”


Both affiliates and operators have similar goals, as they aim to run a profitable business but also to provide players with the best resources, information and products when making an online bet. This includes access to resources for responsible gambling services, player promotions and offers, website reviews and loyalty or referral programs. Both Mark and Kyle have expressed similar thoughts on this, with both end goals being to engage customers and satisfy their needs and wants.MMcG: In regard to opportunities, brands that offer a safe environment of responsible gaming products, with value for money, and loyalty programs could retain customers and therefore be in a stronger position when the economy recovers.  Therefore, this is a time to engage customers, and put the customer at the heart of the experience across any of the brands touchpoints.”KM: “One of the biggest opportunities is in informational content. All affiliates are focused on money pages and understandably so - we’re no different for the most part - but creating content that provides real value and insight to users is a great way to build trust. We have made a conscious effort to try and satisfy different intentions that users have.”

Recipe for a Successful Operator/Affiliate Relationship

For operators and affiliates to navigate the competitive iGaming market, a healthy relationship is essential to achieve success. As competition continues to rise, operators must ensure that they can provide their affiliate partners with as much information, material and resources as possible in order for the affiliate to accurately promote their brand. Some key items to be considered by both parties include:
  • Trust – Trust and alignment of objectives are key for a partnership to be successful. This sentiment was echoed by MMcG, from The Pools: “I take a rather simplistic view, it is about earning and building trust in any partnership, whether in business or one’s personal relationships. Trust is earned over time, by demonstrating an open, fair, and transparent environment to solve problems together as perhaps in years’ past, the relationship was a sort of ‘them and us’ approach. In terms of the Pools, we look closely at the people behind the affiliate business – sure numbers, traffic etc. is commercially important, but it is the people that provide the numbers, and that’s the secret sauce – chemistry.”
  • Transparency – It’s important for both parties to be educated on each other’s practices. These include but are not limited to operator deductions, admin fees, and payments. KM, from Leadstar Mediamentioned that “the partners that are transparent and forthcoming with all data and trends are the ones we enjoy working with the most.”
  • Feedback – Feedback is key for both parties to continue to grow and improve their services. KM emphasized this as well, stating that “If a particular feature or promotion is working well, this is the sort of information that is crucial to us and determines what the product team will focus on with its messaging.” At the end of the day, both sides want to be successful and providing one another with feedback on what can be done to help boost conversions is always appreciated.
  • Competitive offerings – Operators need to keep the industry norms in mind when agreeing to different commission offerings with their affiliates. Affiliates work hard to promote each brand and it’s important to stay competitive with what other operators are willing to offer for the highest exposure.

Key Takeaways

In order for operators and affiliates in the UK iGaming space to remain competitive, they must consider the following ideas. They need to be able to identify opportunities in the market and adapt to challenges created by unpredictable events in the world, while also fostering a strong relationship between each other, the operator and the affiliate.