or close to a decade, marketing technology company Income Access has supported the evolution of the American gaming, daily fantasy sports (DFS) and state lottery industries. The Paysafe Group’s affiliate marketing platform is used by multiple US operators, while everyone from land-based casinos and horse-racing wagering brands to iLotteries leverage Income Access’digital marketing services.
Erica Anderson, who oversees the marketing department at Income access, shared her views on the online gaming market, with a special focus on the company's role in the US, as well as the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling which paved the way for legalized sports betting across the country.
While you offer a full suite of digital marketing services, affiliate marketing is Income Access’ core focus. Tell us about the channel’s role in the US market.
UIGEA’s federal ban on iGaming in 2006 closed-down the online casino and poker market until 2013, when New Jersey and Nevada regulated iGaming after the clarification of the Wire Act. During the same period in the UK, online gaming really flourished – and affiliate marketing played a big role in that growth.
The affiliate channel’s performance-based model made it highly cost-effective for European operators, with strong ROI. The affiliates themselves also evolved rapidly during this period – transforming themselves into sophisticated digital marketing businesses that were expert at targeting and converting high-quality traffic.
When New Jersey went live in 2013, it wasn’t surprising that the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), the state regulator, looked to regulate and foster a marketing approach that had proven so successful in Europe.
The strategy has worked. DGE-licensed affiliates have played an important role in player acquisition for New Jersey online casino and poker brands. Our data from US iGaming operators reveal that affiliates are today responsible for as much as a fifth of a brand’s new registering players.
The US online gaming market was, of course, broader than just casino and poker. Can you tell us how the other verticals evolved?
UIGEA exempted DFS, and the law did not cover online horse-racing wagering or state lotteries’ online sales. FanDuel and DraftKings, the DFS market leaders, have had affiliate programs for almost a decade. Advance depositing wagering (ADW) sites for horse-racing such as Churchill Downs’ TwinSpires and MyWinners in Connecticut have also been active in the affiliate space for several years.
State lotteries have taken longer to leverage affiliates, largely because iLottery regulation has taken time. Today six states offer online lottery sales, following New Hampshire Lottery’s launch in September. That said, this year has been a significant one for iLottery and the affiliate channel.
Michigan Lottery launched an Income Access-powered and managed program in January followed by Pennsylvania in June.
2018 has also been marked by PASPA’s repeal. How do you see this impacting the market and marketing?
The end of PASPA’s ban on single-event sports-betting beyond Nevada is huge. Delaware, New Jersey, West Virginia and Mississippi have already gone live, and Pennsylvania is likely to launch online sports-betting as well as casino and poker before year-end. We’ve already seen DFS brands like DraftKings and FanDuel move into the sports-betting vertical by launching New Jersey-facing sportsbooks.
Given affiliate marketing’s important role in growing online casino and poker brands in New Jersey, it is likely that the channel will prove instrumental in player acquisition for sportsbooks in not just that state but others as well.
The new, more diverse US gaming ecosystem that’s developing will further provide increasing demand for other marketing channels such as direct and programmatic media buying with high-traffic sites, SEM, content and social media marketing. Given that Pew Research Center report that three-quarters of American adults now own smartphones, app store marketing is almost certain to become bigger than ever for gaming brands in 2019.