On April 30th, 2013 the first ever U.S. regulated online poker site (UltimatePoker.com) went live in Nevada. Since then, WSOP.com has also went live in the state of Nevada. While player liquidity is indeed growing in Nevada, the state is somewhat limited as there is only a population of 2 million residents. Currently all the buzz in the online gambling industry is surrounding the go live date of November 26th, 2013 for regulated U.S. gambling in the state of New Jersey. With a population of nearly 9 million residents, and one of the highest per capita average incomes, New Jersey promises to be a game changer for the U.S. Regulated gambling markets.
Poker affiliates and gambling industry professionals are watching the developments in New Jersey closely and with a great deal of anticipation. After Black Friday, many U.S. poker affiliates saw their incomes and businesses decimated when the 4 largest online poker sites were seized by the U.S. Department of Justice. Some of these affiliates stuck around the industry while others simply left for greener pastures. Of the affiliates that did stay in the industry, many maintained a low profile or shifted their focus to the European gaming markets.
With the recent U.S. gaming regulation finally coming to fruition, many affiliates and industry professionals are preparing to promote in this regulated market. Below is the list of operators and partnerships that are anticipated to be launching real money gaming in New Jersey that have already been issued permits. Keep in mind, more permits are expected to be issued in the coming days.
• The Borgata and bwin.party
• Golden Nugget Atlantic City and Bally Technologies Inc.
• Tropicana Casino & Resort Atlantic City and Gamesys
• Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino and Betfair Group PLC
• Trump Taj Mahal and Ultimate Gaming
Of these operators, many have also expressed an interest in utilizing affiliate marketing. With only 34 days until New Jersey opens up, many poker affiliates are left scratching their heads with loads of questions. The most common questions are:
1. Will poker affiliates need a gaming license to promote within New Jersey?
2. Can poker affiliates promote regulated offers on sites where they also promote non-regulated U.S. offers?
3. Can a poker affiliate promote a regulated room through a master affiliate and bypass the possible licensure process?
4. If a poker affiliate goes through the licensure process in New Jersey, will there be reciprocity with other states once poker compacts are made?
And these are just a few of the questions being raised. The fundamental problem with New Jersey right now for poker affiliates is that both operators and regulators simply do not understand poker affiliate marketing. You still here the term “junket operators” being thrown around every day. Look for my next article on this topic too because I’m about to puke if I continue to be referred to as a junket operator. After working as a poker affiliate in the industry for over 10 years, I can assure you, a poker affiliate is an internet marketer, SEO expert, social media expert, blogger……all sorts of things. A junket operator collects money from individuals, charters an airplane, and sets off for Las Vegas or Atlantic City to meet up with the VIP hosts. It’s like comparing apples and oranges.
When we discuss licensure, some affiliates will entertain it, however I can also assure you that 95% of poker affiliates will not be running from state to state dealing with regulators in order to geo-target a small base of users.
So what’s the best answer for poker affiliate marketing in New Jersey? In my opinion, the best outcome would be for trusted super affiliate networks in the poker industry such as PokerAffiliateSolutions.com to be allowed to gain licensure and work on a sub-affiliate basis. From there the small to mid-size affiliates could then promote the regulated offers through the master affiliate network and essentially be working as agents of Poker Affiliate Solutions and not directly through the B&M casino’s online poker site. There’s a number of other qualified poker affiliate networks like PAS already set-up and qualified to do this as well.
Sure, the affiliates would have to adhere to stringent guidelines, and the master affiliate would have to audit sites and pay close attention to what’s going on their network. But these poker affiliate networks are already set-up and accustomed to doing this on a daily basis. If they have to add an extra layer of security, no big deal, that would still be light years ahead of a bunch of Internet marketers individually having to apply for gaming licenses in the various states. As affiliates or players in the industry, it’s easy to wrap our heads around the concept. Get regulators and the U.S. government involved though and it will become a tangled web that neither operators, affiliates, players, and even the regulators themselves can figure out.
Nonetheless, watching what transpires on the affiliate side of the regulated New Jersey market should be just as interesting as watching the players side. Fellow poker affiliates, let’s cross our fingers and hope for the best!
Jeremy Enke is an industry veteran most well known for his publications as well as his industry accomplishments. Jeremy also leads the community at Poker Affiliate Listings. Jeremy is a contributing author at 4flush.com and writes about news and commentary affecting both poker affiliates and gambling operators.