Responsible Affiliates in Gaming (RAiG) has announced its support for the introduction of a statutory licensing or registration regime for UK affiliates, should this happen.
Their support would be subject to the benefits of such procedures for consumers being clearly identified.
Online gambling affiliates in Britain currently don’t need to apply for a licence before they can operate in this space, unlike parts of some countries such as the US.
The question of whether or not UK affiliates should require licences has been brought back to the spotlight in the wake of COVID-19.
UKGC regulation for affiliates could be a better option
At the moment, affiliates in the UK must – regardless of the industry they serve – adhere to the standards of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). However, as RAiG noted in its press release, the ASA is not gambling-specific. As such, it suggests that “a licensing or registration role might best be fulfilled by the Gambling Commission”.
RAiG Chairman Clive Hawkswood also commented on the organisation’s decision to support gambling-specific affiliate regulation. He said the following.
“The decision to support the principle of a licensing or registration system was not taken lightly and we have been assessing the pros and cons for many months. This issue will achieve greater prominence as the Government’s review of the Gambling Act 2005 picks up pace and it is vital that we play a constructive role as policies evolve rather than waiting on the side-lines for measures to be imposed.
“It is appreciated that this is an issue where opinion across the sector is divided and RAiG will make clear that, as with any trade body, it can only speak on behalf of its members. Despite that, we hope everyone in the affiliate marketing world and beyond will keep an open mind about any proposals which would serve to create a safer gambling environment.
“As with all forms of licensing and regulation, the devil is usually in the detail and the aim must be to work with all stakeholders to ensure that any provisions are proportionate and, most important of all, effective in improving safeguards for consumers.”
Possible benefits of more specific gambling affiliate regulation
RAiG believes that a licensing or registration system would provide peace of mind for players, since they know that they’d be engaging with a responsible industry. Moreover, the organisation argues that “it is the best way to ensure that consumer protection measures are applied consistently across what is such a diverse industry.”
Some affiliates have been criticised for unethical behaviour, such as optimising pages to get around gambling ad-blocking filters. If registration or licensing was required, however, it would remove those who disregard their social responsibility duties.
RAiG also pointed out that affiliates form an important part of the UK iGaming space. They are responsible for helping to channel players away from unregulated operators, while also being an important education source. Their reach means that they can help to improve player safety, while a governing body for affiliates would also mean that operators wouldn’t have to police them individually.