Q&A with Christine aka Bonustreak: Challenges & Opportunities for US-Based Affiliates
We write about SEO, email marketing tips, online casino news and the like every day… but it’s also crucial to get the downlow from the affiliates who are in the trenches day in and day out. By knowing what our peers experience, it makes us better affiliates too.
We recently checked in with Christine aka “bonustreak.” She’s behind casino affiliate websites such as Streak Gaming and Bonus Streak. Things have changed in the industry since we last interviewed Christine in May 2011. Here, we get some real perspective on what the current opportunities and challenges facing affiliates are in today’s landscape.
Christine, tell us a bit about your background in the iGaming industry.
I joined the industry close to 10 years ago… feeling old! My partner and I started our first site that was called Winningstreak (ezboard), but we really didn’t know much back then. We were essentially just learning the basics on website building, SEO and such. Then came our second site, Bonustreak.com, which was our first portal site. Also around this same time, I started joining other affiliate forums so this became my user name. Many still to this day refer to me as “Bonustreak.”
The very first forum that I can attribute to being my stepping stone into this business was CAP. I met my biggest competitors and some of my very best friends in this industry through CAP. I think my best introduction from this forum had to be Simmo. I bugged the heck out of him back in the beginning days of my quest to learn how to be an effective iGaming affiliate. He mentored me for many months and taught me the ropes. I can truly say he is one of the biggest reasons for our success.
Many also know me from being part of the team at AGD as bonustreak. I have been a huge advocate for other affiliates since 2006, the startup of AGD. The players who are part of the team are all fellow affiliates I also met through CAP.
You’ve been intimately involved with the iGaming affiliate industry for quite a few years now. Help us understand – what is the overall state of the US iGaming affiliate market?
I believe New Jersey is going to be the stepping stone of legal US iGaming. Of all the states that have made online gambling legal, this is the biggest with a population over 9 million. Not to mention the amount of gamblers that travel into New Jersey from New York and Pennsylvania. I think we will see some real action with online gaming moving forward by the beginning of 2014.
It’s been over 2 years since the US Department of Justice shocked the online poker world on “Black Friday.” What was the actual impact on affiliates now that we are 2 years down the road?
Streak Gaming was not actually impacted at all with ‘Black Friday’, shame I cannot say the same for many others who focused manly in the poker area of iGaming. There are many that just walked away to find other ways to make a living. There are still big poker affiliate sites out there that are plugging away I wish for them to have continued success. I always found poker to be hard to get in on since there were many established poker affiliates in the game before I started. Poker players tend to be very loyal to one place only.
So what’s new in the US market for gaming affiliates? How are they able to monetize their traffic?
I assume you mean are there any legal US facing brands to market to players right now? That would be no, there is not at this time. It is best to continue to geo target Europe while building sites for future business in the states. Really it’s best to never put all your eggs in one basket since we all know this industry changes almost on a daily basis.
What is the biggest challenge about being a US-based affiliate today? What are you doing to mitigate that challenge(s)?
I think being able to collect payments is a huge challenge to many US affiliates. Research is a must on the best ways to collect payments. Geo targeting other countries is always a challenge of course but a necessity.
We are doing all we can to stay strong in the European markets which at times can be a very daunting task when you’re trying to communicate with companies on different time zones. I find it very important to build good standing relationship with affiliate managers so being based in the US makes that a challenge. To me this is why it is very important to get to affiliate conventions as often as I can, this way I can meet my affiliate managers in person.
Who are some of the hottest “up and coming” operators out there for affiliates to start working with?
I’m really liking Net Entertainment brands right now. Mainly Redbet. Top runners up would be Money Gaming and Jackpot Party, as well as brands that are carrying the Bally slots.
You’re a big advocate for affiliate rights. What are some things to look for when choosing new affiliate programs to work with?
Stability, of course, along with strong financial backing. These are tough times in this industry, so that means we are seeing a lot of new affiliate programs open shop only to be closed within a matter of months. Then of course they need to have good transparent terms & conditions.
Where do you see the biggest opportunities for US-based affiliates in today’s environment?
I would have to say working with strong established brands. There are many long standing trustworthy brands to work with in Europe eager to work with affiliates. Try to develop a good working relationship with the big names who you know will enter into the US market once that opens up, such as Jackpot Party affiliates.
Million dollar question: when do you think federal legislation for online gaming will happen, and what can US-based affiliates do in the meantime?
I am not sure we will see federal regulation for another couple years at least… if ever.
I would say that US affiliates need to continue targeting EU heavily while building up a good reputation, keep your nose clean so you are all set to enter the legal US market once that is all set in stone.