PREPARING FOR THE RE-EMERGING AMERICA


The re-emergence of the US as a market force in iGaming provides some interesting challenges for affiliates keen on accessing the various intra-state markets


AS WE LOOK back at the landscape of the US online gambling industry over the last twelve months, it has been one filled with pitfalls and uncertainty. There have been countless speculations and forecasts from both affiliates and operators on what the future may hold for this battered market.

The reality, however, is that no one truly knows exactly when a newly regulated US market will emerge. Likewise, when there is regulation, it is anyone’s guess as to what the new landscape will look like. While this is frustrating for gambling enthusiasts and players in the US, it is equally frustrating for poker affiliates.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that poker affiliates have faced this type of uncertainty. In 2006, after the UIGEA was passed, many poker affiliates experienced a significant reduction in their incomes when operators such as PartyPoker, 888, and Paradise Poker left the US market. Then again in 2011 after the notorious ‘Black Friday’, which left us with the abrupt closures of FullTiltPoker.com, AbsolutePoker.com, and UltimateBet.com.

Both these setbacks decimated many affiliates’ incomes whose main focus was the US. Regardless of what a regulated market will look like, most poker affiliates are ready for some sort of consistency where the American online poker market is concerned. Given the dismal state of the US economy and the enormous tax revenue potential, I think most in the industry would agree that we should indeed see regulation and legal US poker at some point in the near future. When this regulation finally does transpire, the affiliates that will reap the greatest rewards will be the ones who prepared for this new market ahead of time.

With so much uncertainty and possible scenarios, preparing for the re-emerging American market is no easy task. With this in mind, I’ve assembled a few simple things that affiliates can be doing right now to prepare regardless of how the market actually re-emerges.

Stay up-to-date and report on new industry developments

This will not only be beneficial for your business, but will also help you with your future planning. Likewise, you can leverage the changing news and events to establish your site as an authority on the latest developments regarding online gambling regulation in the US. Never in history has there been so much news surrounding US gambling regulations. You can also leverage the constant stream of industry news to email your lists with pertinent information on a more regular basis. Take advantage of it.

Continue to diversify

Whether an operator or affiliate, it has never been more important to diversify your overall business. With the unpredictable future outlook of the online gambling sector in the US, it is extremely prudent to diversify both within and outside of gambling. While everyone is hoping that the U S market will re-emerge and bring with it the type of ‘poker boom’ we witnessed in 2003, there are no guarantees. Currently, there are some other great emerging industries that are very easy for poker affiliates to cross over into. For example, penny auctions, binary trading, sports picks, and even precious metals.

Adjust your expectations

Many in the industry believe that a re-emerging US market will be driven and perhaps operated by the large Las Vegas casinos. Additionally, there is a fairly good chance that individual states may join forces to offer inter-state poker. If either of these takes place, affiliates should not expect to earn the level of commission that is currendy standard in the industry.

In fact, in an inter-state scenario similar to how Powerball or lotteries are operated, affiliates should keep their fingers crossed that there would even be an affiliate program.

Be the first mover

One of the most important keys to success when approaching any emerging, or in this case, re-emerging market, is to be the first in. Should the US market reopen under one of the aforementioned scenarios, it will be important to embrace the new market and fully immerse yourself into it. That said, you will want to establish early relationships with new providers and learn the best approach to take in order to capitalise from the buzz that will surely ensue. In the same way the market may change, so could the fundamental way affiliates and operators do business together.

Get back to the basics

While regulation may be a giant leap forward for the industry in respect to legality, it may also be a step backwards in terms of technology, player liquidity, enormous prize pools, and the other great advancements the non-regulated markets brought us over the last decade. When promoting in this type of market, affiliates may not have the luxury of attracting new players with rakeback, added prize pools, or terrific deposit bonuses.

As a new online poker market emerges in the US, there will more than likely be a great deal of interest not only from current poker players, but also potential new players. Just like in the early days of online poker, it will become a numbers game for affiliates. The more traffic you can generate to your site and introduce this new market to, the greater your conversions and overall income will be.

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, nobody truly knows how the re-emergence of the online poker market in the US will play out. Likewise, it is doubtful that we will ever see another online poker boom as we did in 2003. However, the potential for affiliates and operators who understand this new market and are prepared from the onset could be tremendous.

Between the existing operators and the land-based casinos with significant amounts of money, the current state of the market can easily be compared to a giant game of chess. Both sides are positioning themselves and all are thinking three moves ahead. At some point, the online poker industry as a whole is going to be able to remove the proverbial US government boot off the industries throat and happily exclaim ‘Check Mate!’
 
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