Many online poker rooms make decisions according to their mood, to the disadvantage of affiliates
In this article we will discuss a very important topic, taking a close look at the cooperation between online poker rooms and affiliates. Just as players with a decade of experience tend to know all about the game, so do affiliates such as YourPokerDream, who have amassed a wealth of experience in the industry over the years.
In our industry, much revolves around trust and written contracts/agreements. Communication takes place via e-mail or Skype, and various deals and promotions are thus negotiated. Everything is fine as long as both parties keep to such agreements. The big names do their busness in this way, which has certainly been the experience of YourPokerDream so far. However, even in our experience it has been by no means unusual to see certain agreements not being adhered to, and we have been forced to restrict or even terminate our cooperation.
Do the goalposts shift position only due to regulations?
Of course, we should be realistic and understand why an online poker room might change a deal. A lot has happened in recent years, and a number of countries have officially regulated markets so that additional costs such as license fees, taxes and so on have arisen as a result. In such cases it is quite understandable that providers need to react accordingly, and these changes in turn affect both the player and affiliate. Because the original deal was based on a different legal situation, and with the poker room now having additional costs, it is only fair that there would be changes made to the deal, with negative implications to certain promotions with the affiliate.
It is a different matter if agreements are not adhererd to and, ultimately, deals are no longer respected to the point that deals are affected or even ended completely. The work of an affiliate is designed with the long-term in mind, and is based on percentage participation in terms of the rake of the players channelled via the affiliate. Many affiliates experience a problem when player numbers fall over time, and the providers – despite this being only natural, and that it changes nothing about existing players – are dissatisfied as a consequence. It should go without saying that a reputable company is obliged to fulfill the agreed deal for these players, even if it is decided to shorten the deal for the future, or to end the cooperation entirely. A good example is Bet365. Regardless of whether an affiliate is large or small, this provider always adheres to all agreements. Due to various internal changes and a new strategy, the cooperation with numerous affiliates was terminated, but still all agreed deals for mediated players are respected, and the commission is paid to this day. Unfortunately, cooperation with Bet365 is not interesting for YPD, but we respect their professionalism nevertheless.
There are numerous other examples of providers who have withdrawn from various markets and no longer accept new registrations. That’s okay, but it doesn’t justify the affiliate not being paid for these players as long as they continue to participate in the game and generate revenue. Here, too, YPD’s experience is rather good, but smaller affiliates often have problems here and report different experiences.
The truth is that online poker rooms can do almost anything they want
The fact that certain changes are made overnight or without prior notice is probably not really too significant for poker players. We could give very detailed examples here, but that’s not what this article is about.
As easy as things change for gamers, it is often also the same for affiliates, and as far as our major partners are concerned, we don’t have anything negative to report here. However, there is an exception in the shape of an incident at GGPoker that we don’t want to hide from you.
Current incident at GGPoker: A spontaneous decision was made that all players from Japan would be deleted from all affiliates and transferred to a special agent. We have never experienced anything like this before, and are more than shocked. While this concerns only approximately seven players, and a country in Japan that is not a key part of our target area, it does not matter whether we are talking about 7 or 700 players. Furthermore, there is an obligation to the player to whom various promotions have been advertised and made available, with those players from Japan who have registered via YPD simply disappearing.
So, it was simply decided that, from now on, there will be no more commission for players from Japan, although these players can continue playing normally. This is a completely unacceptable action that leaves even us speechless. It would have been perfectly fine if from now on players from Japan were no longer allowed through certain affiliates, which is similar to the way it is for other countries. But what is happening here is simply not okay and, no matter whether it is YourPokerDream or another affiliate, such an approach is not professional and, unfortunately, does not paint GG in a positive way.
The matter came up only when a player contacted us to ask why he was not receiving any points for our $80,000 GGPoker Rake Race. It also casts a bad light on us to then find ourselves saying ‘Sorry, but we have just found out that you can no longer participate, and you have now played three weeks extra as a consequence and, unfortunately, nobody cares…’
What options do affiliates have?
First and foremost, it depends on which provider it is, and where it is located. Large listed companies such as Entain (partypoker, bwin), the Kindred Group or even the Betsson Group will think twice about what to do and how to avoid a bad situation. One would expect the same from GGPoker but, although they are larger than the aforementioned companies, when it comes to poker there are still some differences in terms of company size, structure and various other elements. In addition, GGPoker (or NSUS Limited) is not a listed company. Since we in fact have very good cooperation with GG, and because we have bigger plans for the future, we will not publicly comment on the topic further and will accept it despite being definitely unenthusiastic.
Pure offshore providers like the Winning Poker Network (WPN) or Chico do what they want regardless, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. Bad press concerns these providers only to a limited extent, so the chances for an affiliate are zero.
When large companies value their reputation, and major, established affiliates that they deal with have been in business for a long time and thus have an extensive reach, it’s natural for the provider to avoid the implications of negative situations. As we have already mentioned above, this is probably one of the reasons why we have not had any major problems with our major partners. It should also be pointed out that, additionally, we also bring very good traffic to our partners which, of course, strengthens our position.
Depending on the place of business, and the agreement, legal action can be a possibility. The question always arises as to whether the time factor and the associated costs tally with the chances of success. When it comes to a provider based in Europe, Canada or the USA, things become a little easier. If the provider is in a less regulatory, legally developed country and is hiding behind an offshore company, they can save time and money because legal action would not be successful.
Stopping the referral of new players can also be an option for an affiliate (definitely with a large affiliate), although this can also be effective with smaller ones. The online poker boom has long gone, and every player is important. The competition among poker sites is greater than ever, and affiliates play a crucial role here.
It is sad that, in our industry, it happens again and again that agreements and deals are broken, that poker rooms do not behave properly towards many affiliates and, unfortunately, far too often the hard work of the past years is not appreciated.
Affiliates should think carefully about who they are working with, and be well aware of the risks. Usually, problems do not start at the beginning, rather evolve over time, so it’s imperative to analyze key aspects and possibly work accordingly, taking measures to safeguard them.