Affiliate marketing has long been a vessel to reach financial freedom and passive income from just about anywhere in the world.
All you need is a laptop, an internet connection, minimal investment and a little bit of knowledge and you’re well on your way to becoming a self-made millionaire without even selling your own product. It’s a dream come true, well at least it would be if it were all that simple.
But the truth is that the world of affiliate marketing is a very difficult and very competitive place to pitch up and the very top of the food chain lies the casino affiliate businesses. It makes sense, the higher the reward, the more people that set out on the journey to reach it, but not everyone will find success at the end.
95 percent of all those that try will get bored, distracted or give-up on the casino-affiliate dream and with several months before any sort of gratification, it’s not hard to see why. It’s not a place for the light-hearted to reside and it’s certainly not for the lazy – but if you’re aware of the fact and still hungry for more – you might just be in the right place.
So how do you get started in the online casino affiliate business, what are the rules and regulations and just how long do you have to wait before you’re starting to see a little profit for your efforts?
How big is the online casino market?
The first step into any new industry should always involve market research and when it comes to affiliate marketing, it’s no different.
If you shop around the forums, groups, and blogs surrounding the topic of online gambling affiliation, you’ll often notice a sense that the so-called ‘golden age’ of affiliate marketing is long-gone with the buzz ending around 2010. But take a closer look at the statistics and you’ll see that you’ve not missed the boat, it is well and truly still in the harbor.
The online gambling market was measured at a market size of $45.8 billion in 2017, making it one of the biggest digital industries available to invest in, but it’s not the current size that’s the most impressive. There’s a predicted 2024 value of over double, sat at an estimation of $94.4 billion. It’s some boat to double in value in just 7 years, and you’ve got a first-class ticket – if you want it…
How much potential is there for affiliates?
Although the statistics surrounding the market value of online casino affiliates, we can look into the larger affiliate companies for a reference as to how much the pros are making.
Cantena Media Plc
Perhaps the best example of an online gambling affiliate business comes from Cantena Media Plc, a gambling affiliate launched in 2012 by a pair of childhood friends.
The pair grew the company to the self-proclaimed ‘#1 provider of high-value iGaming leads’ with over 250 employees spanning over 30 countries in 6 locations around the world. By developing organic growth, entering new markets and building the company via acquisitions, the firm reached a market capitalization of $5.5 billion.
With acquisitions of such award-winning gambling-based companies including Bettingpro.com (GBP 13.9 million) and AskGamblers.com (EUR 15 million), it’s no secret that there’s some serious power behind the simple casino affiliate.
Another well-documented super affiliate comes from the 2008-formed company XLMedia Plc, an iGaming affiliate with a market capitalization of approximately GBP 325 million.
The company boasts the credentials of a market-leading digital marketing service provider, developing four main lines of business across the web including the affiliate marketing program with over 300 sub-affiliates.
The company, similar to Cantena, is no stranger to acquisitions with noteworthy purchases including ExciteAd (USD 19 million), GreedyRates.ca (USD 9.3 million) and Money Under 30 (USD 7 million).
Although some affiliates will only make a few dollars per month, there are other ‘super affiliates’ that rake in the big bucks, capitalizing on over $1,000,000 per month in commission. But nobody starts with that sort of revenue, they start small and grow into giants.
What’s in it for the casinos?
You may be wondering why casinos are so fond of affiliate marketing schemes and you’d be right to be doubtful of their involvement when it comes to third party associations.
However, it’s undeniable that utilizing affiliate marketing programs work and they’re actually among the top forms of advertising and promotion that online gambling companies can use to boost revenue.
One of the biggest benefits associated with affiliate marketing comes the ability to measure the progress generated on an affiliate-to-affiliate level.
In this day and age, information and data are everything and the more that we have, the more we can use to benefit marketing techniques. When it comes to affiliate marketing, there’s no limit to the amount of information casinos can collect and use to optimize their strategies.
They’ll see what offers are attracting the most players and which affiliates are worth their weight in gold so they can act accordingly. It’s better than selling hats and hoping to generate conversions, that’s for sure.
Payments based on performance
Another key benefit for the casino that makes affiliate marketing so popular is how they pay for their coverage.
In traditional marketing, such as running television advertisements, we see payment before finding out the conversions which isn’t the best when looking towards the ROI. However, with affiliate marketing, casinos only pay once they’ve already got the conversion, not before.
That means you’ve got 100% relevant traffic converted into real sales, which is good in anyone’s book. There are no wonder casinos are keen to bulk up the commission on high-flying affiliates.
Improved reputation and online presence
When it comes to the marketing of an online casino, it’s the reputation and exposure that builds trust in a consumer that stands as the most difficult component.
Instead of playing a waiting game and opting for organic testimonials and reviews from players venturing into the unknown, it’s a great idea to go to the middleman and piggyback their credibility to promote your casino. That’s exactly what we see with plenty of casinos that approach affiliate marketers to build brand exposure and it comes with a price.
After all, 50% of something is better than 100% of nothing. Without online gambling affiliates, new online casinos would find serious difficulty when opening.
How does affiliate marketing work?
Defining affiliate marketing is probably the best place to start when looking to dive into the industry and you’ll be happy to know that it’s a pretty simple concept.
We broadly define the term as an arrangement in which an online business pays a pre-agreed commission (see the different forms below), to a third party site for generating traffic, leads or sales on its behalf. Think of it as companies giving out thanks in the form of funds to individuals for selling products on their behalf.
The same is true for a gambling affiliate, but rather than passing customers on to purchase a physical product, as is popular with Amazon affiliate programs, customers are passed onto online casinos. These online casinos will make money off of the players at their sites when they deposit and inevitably lose money, if you’ve passed the casino that player, you’ll earn a chunk of change in the form of commission as a thank-you.
The players that you pass on are ‘tracked’ via cookies that new players receive from visiting the links posted on your site, whether that’s from banners, images, buttons or embedded links, so it’s important to get your links in. You’ll get your trackable links after signing up for each specific affiliate program and the more registrations and deposits you generate, the more money you’ll make.
Different forms of commission
When it comes to the different forms of commission, there’s three main forms known as revenue-share, cost per action (CPA) and mixed models that can be opted for:
A revenue-share model is the most common affiliate strategy that we see used in the majority of programs, characterized by a percentage of casino net revenue generated by referred players.
The method works for affiliates, as they’ll receive payment long-term (often for life) from referred players, and for operators as they’ll be able to target affiliates that are willing to target long-term customers for the casinos. It’s a win-win for both parties.
Percentages paid to the affiliate will range from 20-30% for new-to-industry affiliates but can reach huge chunks of between 50-60% for those with the traffic values that stack up.
Cost per action (CPA)
The direct alternative to a revenue-share option is a CPA in which the casino offers a fixed rate for each player referred via the affiliate.
Casino operators are often flexible surrounding the rate, depending on reputation and value-added to the casino, but often won’t be as lucrative as the revenue-share in the long run. For affiliates to receive payment, players are usually required to deposit and wager, ensuring that the casino will have received a ‘real’ player.
If you’re making waves as a high-profile affiliate, you may find it possible to create customized approaches and deals with casinos to reach a compromise that works best for you.
By negotiating a mixed model, affiliates are often able to receive a combination of a revenue-share and CPA payment plan, as well as up-front payments for long-term partnerships with casinos. These are particularly popular with those companies relying on employees and cash-flow to ensure wages are paid on-time.
The more flexible that the relationship develops, the better the network and the profitability of the win-win partnerships we see.
How do I get started?
You’ve sized up the market, done your research, understand the concept and want in – so now you’ve only got one question remaining – how do I get started?
Thankfully, the online gambling affiliate industry is relatively easy to get going in, providing that you either know, or you’ve got a team in place that knows exactly what they’re doing and it starts with a website.
It all starts with a site
It might not be 100% necessary, but it’s by far the best foundation to get started on when it comes to launching a casino affiliate business.
You’re going to want to get yourself a domain to start with, something that screams ‘trustworthy’ and that can be brandable ideally. This is the starting point to your whole business, so it pays to dish out the dosh and go for one that sets you apart from the next casino affiliate marketer on the block.
There’s plenty of places to buy, from the standard options such as GoDaddy and Heart Internet to private sellers that you’ll find on forums around the web. I tend to recommend the latter as, for the right price, you can kickstart your affiliate marketing journey with an established site that’ll come with some pre-written articles, domain authority and backlinks, if you shop around that is.
Once you’ve got your www. it’s time to develop the website itself. If you’re not particularly good with the digital space, it’s best to invest in the professionals to get you up and running. You need an SEO focused, mobile-first site with a good theme that leads to plenty of conversions – it may sound simple but there’s a decent chunk of work that goes into it!
Get with the times and get social
When first entering the casino affiliate business, I was most surprised at the sheer neglect surrounding the use of social media to generate traffic to affiliate sites.
If you’re planning on building a brand, which you should be, in these modern times you must have the appropriate social media accounts on the go in parallel. By sharing posts, linking content and building a following, you can gain unrivaled access to customers all over the web.
It may be a little challenging, especially when it comes to navigating the tight rules and regulations that Facebook and Instagram are famous for when promoting gambling, but it’ll be more than worth it at the end.
Content is king
Once you’ve got a site and social accounts set up, all that’s left to do is to fill them all to the brim with content.
By researching and targeting keywords (I like to use Ahrefs), you can build a strong series of posts that aim for your target audience. Use low-competition, long-tail keywords for the best chance of reaching the first page in the search engines and you’ll be in good standing for sign-ups in the near future.
It’s often recommended that reviews are created for each of the casino affiliate programs signed-up for. This way visitors to your site can see what an independent third party thinks of the games, infrastructure and customer support of the casinos they’re most interested in. Get them to click one of your links and you’ve got yourself a lead.
It’s not uncommon to outsource articles and if you’re just starting out, you can usually find freelancers that’ll jump at the chance to write articles providing you’re paying a fair wage. Just bear in mind that you do get what you pay for, so don’t expect the world for a $5 1000-word blog post…
Build backlinks and authority
There’s a huge number of sites out there all trying to do the same thing and as much as it helps to build with a niche in mind, it’s equally as important to build backlinks and, by extension, site authority.
There are many ways to build backlinks, but the most recommended as dictated by Google is to focus on high-quality, useful, shareable content that is organically spread around the web. Of course, alternative forms of link-building do exist and it’s a good idea to get creative to become featured on various sites that give exposure to your own.
Create guest posts for other affiliates, work on viral videos or even try and make the local news – all in the name of links back to your site. This is the part that separates the successful affiliates from the dreamers – remember, your network is your net worth so it pays to stay friendly and fish for links.
Know the rules and adhere to them
Last but not least comes the rules and regulations that surround the online gambling industry and depending on where in the world you live, there can be a shed load of them.
By looking up the respective authorities’ rules surrounding the promotion of online gambling by affiliates you can make sure that you’re not crossing any boundaries that you shouldn’t be. No casino will be willing to work with affiliates that aren’t abiding by the rules, especially with the heavy fines that you can both be hit by.
Make sure you’re fully up to date with the rules and regulations for the corner of the world you’re aiming for and you won’t have any problems.