The rise and fall of the Grand National Free Bet (Part 3)

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Joining us as a repeat guest-blogger for the final installment a series of blogs on the history of the Grand National and free bet offers, is Spencer James of He is the director of Red Jack Media Ltd, who have been promoting free bets offers through a wide variety of sites for over a decade.

The free bet was and is one of the best incentives to lure customers to your site and convert traffic, but for affiliates targeting the Grand National, the options are now limited, as their free bet tool is now all but removed from their marketing arsenal.

There is no doubt that the gaming industry is changing in the UK, for example, the Champions League Final has now caught up and overtaken the FA Cup Final in turnover, while the Cheltenham Festival goes from strength to strength, but it’s clear bookmakers will do their damndest to maintain this historical race into the psyche of the British public.

UK perception of gambling is also changing – having a bet once a year is no longer perceived as a ‘guilty pleasure’.

The National lottery changed people’s views of the industry, with legislation pushed through by parliament in the form of Gambling Act of 2005 – this is an industry which now has Government support, and is fully regulated and monitored.

Fast forward to more recent years and the current economic climate has meant reduced disposable incomes for the majority of people; the online betting world has become increasingly competitive, with a wide variety of gambling products for punters to choose from.

Television advertising has pushed betting and gaming into living rooms up and down the country. Online poker now attracts the young with its glamorous public image; bets are regularly traded on the exchanges, while Mrs Davies who looked forward to her bet once a year on the Grand National has now ploughed her tenner plus a whole lot more into her Foxy Bingo account.

The National, however goes from strength to strength. Skybet reported turnover in 2011 up by 30% on previous year’s nationals, as it was announced turnover could exceed £400m this year, with the race bringing in an additional £10m to the local Merseyside economy.

Placing a bet is a quick and easy process, and can be done via your television, laptop, smart phone, desktop, telephone, tablet, and yes, some people still walk to the betting shop.

Affiliates now spend tens of thousands each month on their marketing campaigns, PPC, content writers and social media strategies. We now have yearly conferences, award ceremonies and sponsorship of horse races.

The days of a few inbound links and some decent content are well and truly over, although I can’t help feel that the ‘affiliate gold rush’ of the last five to six years is beginning to peak, as ‘super affiliates’ begin to monopolise the market.

Marketing strategies have changed for bookmakers, affiliate rev share deals are skimmed, CPA’s reduced, terms and conditions changed as new affiliates attempt to board the free bets ship creating a vibrant but highly competitive industry, as new social media technologies are embraced by affiliates and operators .

But the Grand National will never change – its still a cash cow, another great product for the gaming industry to promote, and it’s a race that will stay around for a very long time; the bookies will make sure of that.

Spencer James is the director of Red Jack Media Ltd, who have been promoting free bets offers through a wide variety of sites for over a decade. He can be contacted at