Online Casino Reports Interview
Online Casino Reports (OCR) was officially launched in 1999 by a small group of friends who loved gambling and saw a niche in the industry. We’ve been up and running for over 15 years and have evolved into a reputable news source, directory, and online gambling portal for players and industry professionals. Today, onlinecasinoreports.com is one of the largest gambling directories online, with over 1,500 gambling sites reviewed.
The portal casino evolved into a network over the years. The Online Casino Reports network of sites now includes 60 localized portals in over 35 languages, with reviews of select brands for each country, language, and currency. The sites feature unique services about all types of gambling, with a specific focus on online casinos. We are a certified by eCOGRA and GPWA approved.
From our point of view, the jurisdictions of the brand have positive impact on the industry naturally. Since we cater to players, what matters to us is to provide them all the information they need to know about the casino including the jurisdiction and where the best place to play is.
As I mentioned, we’ve been around for a long time. Over that time, the internet and the industry have undergone huge changes. One of the keys to our success has been adapting to these changes and of course continuing to produce quality content.
I’d say one of our biggest challenges came in 2006 with the closure of the US market. We experienced a large drop in traffic and income. We needed to think outside the box and decided to explore other markets. The network of sites we created is actually localized versions of OCR. Each local site is dedicated to the players in that specific country and in the local language.
Since we do have so many sites, an ongoing challenge is to keep our vast amounts of content updated. We do our best and are always striving to publish unique stories and updated information.
The “golden days” were the days when there was very little competition (if any) in the industry. Those days are long gone, but I think that change and competition are good because they force the brands and affiliates to provide innovative solutions, better content and much better entertainment experience.
I don’t think regulation is good for all countries. Some countries do it “right”, like the UK and Denmark. Others, however, are not as successful, like Italy and the US. From an affiliate perspective, the regulation in these countries does not help our industry. The regulation imposes high taxes and complicated bureaucracy, so it is not worthwhile for brands in these countries to use affiliates or target players so it’s have a negative effect on the competition which is very weak.
But I think brands will always need affiliates – everyone needs partners – and affiliates are necessary to push the brands.
Yes, there is a lot of dishonest activity going on, unfortunately. And as a very senior partner in the industry we have also fallen victim to player shaving and theft. Most of the cases where we’ve had problems have dealt with dubious terms and conditions where the affiliate closes your account if you are not delivering one sale each month. I would advise all affiliates to stay away from these types of programs (e.g., BetVictor).
Another problem we’ve encountered is affiliate programs that shut their doors while at the same time keeping their brands active – and swindling affiliates out of their money. This has recently happened with AffEurope.
The most hated scenario which is beyond our control is when an affiliate program suddenly changes the original terms of the deal. An example that happened to us this year is with Fortune Affiliates – we have had 10 years of partnership with them and suddenly they changed their terms, causing us great losses.
It is unfortunate, but it happens in our industry. You can find many similar cases by reading the GPWA forums. We try to work with reputable programs but as I mentioned with Fortune Affiliates, you never know what can happen. Since the majority of affiliate programs retain the right of changing their terms at any time, the main criteria for us is a program’s termination terms. We try to avoid partnering with brands whose termination terms are unclear or too much in favor of the program.
Lastly, we prefer to work with rev-share deals. Therefore, our criterion is that these rev-share deals should be fixed for life.
Yes, mobile is indeed the future and will probably overtake desktop. OCR’s mobile site is responsive, and we will soon release our app in the stores. We always keep up with the latest technologies and trends, and apps are a must at this stage in the game.
Well, there will always be conspiracy stories. I do believe that this is going on, but without evidence I can’t be specific. However, on the other side of the coin, I do see big winners all the time, so I guess in every industry there are winners and losers.
The focus should be is on the entertainment and the gaming experience, and I can only hope that players are being given a trustworthy gaming experience from the software companies and brands.
A union is a nice idea and OCR of course would be happy to be members. The GPWA plays a strong role in trying to regulate the industry and maybe they could take the lead in creating such a union. However, realistically, the GPWA only helps with large brands that have a reputation to uphold or their own sponsors which is understandable. They cannot do so much against smaller brands that can close and reopen under new names. Our recommendation is to secure your deal in advance – and custom your own terms – before you start promoting the brand.
No, we did not apply for a US affiliate license for the reasons mentioned earlier. We feel that the regulation was not implemented for the benefit of the affiliate – there is too much bureaucracy involved and it is not cost effective for us at the moment.
However we might consider doing so in the near future.
We recommend that new players play at established, recommended, well-known brands, such as bet365. At senior casinos, players don’t have to be concerned about problems with support, payment, software, etc. They simply can come to play and enjoy the experience. Quality brands deliver a worthwhile, worry-free gaming experience.
In terms of forums, I think that the GPWA is doing a great job. From a different perspective, I would like to see more content like APCW. The creator, J.T., fights for affiliates and players rights – he’s not afraid to say exactly what’s on his mind and speaks from his heart. He has a lot of experience and also suffered losses of his business with the ban of the US market in 2006. More people like him/sites like his would be beneficial for the industry by raising awareness.
I think the craziest things I’ve seen have been at the conventions. Some of the marketing tricks and gimmicks have been fantastic. If you’d like a good laugh, make the trip to the affiliates conferences.
I do remember one specific event that struck me as quite funny. I think it was in 2009 that we were at one of the affiliates conferences. We met a new casino (I honestly don’t remember the name…) that had only been open about a month. They sent a team of 5-7 affiliate managers to the conference and invited our 2 OCR representatives on a boat trip and to dinner and gave us presents. We spent almost an entire day with them, talking about deals and planning a long-term partnership. I must say that with all my experience, I thought this brand looked very promising, and it was evident that a lot had been invested in the brand.
After we closed a deal and flew back home from the conference, we found out that the brand had been closed only couple of days later and no one ever replied to our emails or phone, the operation literally evaporated. I think this was the funniest thing that happened to us!