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    GPWA Daniel is offline Associate Editor
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    Default Affiliate Interview Series - Dave Sawyer

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    (This interview was originally published in the July 2018 issue of the GPWA Times Magazine)


    We last checked in with you in 2005, over a dozen years ago. How has your business changed over that time? Have you added additional sites or verticals? Gotten rid of any?


    At one stage I had over 30 sites, but over the past few years I have reduced this down to just concentrating on my oldest portal and the site I started out in the industry with, in Online Casino Reviewer. A case of less is more. I still own in excess of 100 domains, though.

    What's the biggest change you've seen in the industry over the past decade, overall?

    Regulation in the U.K. At last, we have a licensing jurisdiction that is actually doing something positive. Which is a benefit for everyone concerned, whether you are a player, an affiliate or an operator.

    Certainly, over the past 12 months, the changes have been quite huge. We have seen several operators being on the receiving end of large fines from the UKGC, and in turn, affiliates have been affected, with many changes being forced upon them. But this in the long run is for the greater good.

    For too long the iGaming industry has been allowed to pretty much do whatever we have wanted. Now player safety and responsible gambling, in the U.K. anyway, are at the forefront of what we do. This is a really good thing. Hopefully other territories will follow the UKGCís lead, instead of just banning iGaming (e.g., Australia).

    What changes in the industry since we last spoke to you have had the biggest impact on your business specifically?

    Definitely the influx of venture capitalists and large companies such as Catena Media entering the space. With their M & A policy, many portals have been taken over, and subsequently they have had massive resources thrown at them.

    Small companies such as my own have had to compete with them, and sometimes it feels like swimming against the tide. But this is the nature of the industry: New challenges arise, and we have to adapt to face them.

    Last fall, you sued Affiliate Edge over retroactive changes to contracts, something many affiliates likely wish they could do. What made you decide to go ahead with the suit?

    The owners of Affiliate Edge, Interactive Technology Corporation Limited, in February 2017 introduced, unannounced, a player quota minimum activity clause. Something I did not agree to. Which saw my commission earnings reduce by near £5,000 (pound sterling) over a three-month period, during the months of June, July and August 2017.

    Due to the well-documented hostile takeover of the company, which came to a conclusion in the High Court in London in November 2016, I did not feel happy at all sending the program and their casinos any more traffic.

    Indeed, this course of action I took (stopping promoting them ) was and still is the case with the majority of my peers.

    The minimum quota clause was a typical carrot and stick scenario. However, due to rumors of Affiliate Edge detagging players from their affiliates Ė which, incidentally, I do have cast-iron proof that this has actually occurred Ė there was no way I was going to send them a further click-through, let alone any FTDs.

    I felt that the small claims court would allow me to test whether this player quota clause pushed onto affiliates without agreement was fair. Hence, I issued a claim against them for the shortfall in commission, from my agreed deal of 35% and the new 10% forced on me by the player quota clause.

    What was the most difficult part of bringing that case? Is there anything you learned from the experience that you'd like other webmasters to know? Where do things stand today?

    Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and I should have have at least employed the services of a lawyer to check the contract. Unfortunately, I missed the clause relating to arbitration. In the U.K., claims for under £10,000 are usually tracked in the small claims process, meaning litigants bringing a claim are protected from the defendantís costs, should they lose their claim or have it stayed.

    I first found out about the arbitration clause when their lawyers finally in the 11th hour responded to the court and my claim. Due to the arbitration clause, my claim would automatically be multi-tracked, meaning my company was exposed to all their legal costs should their stay application be successful, which it was.

    It was certainly an experience to tick off my bucket list. I was in court up against a barrister who also had a paralegal there to assist. The judge stayed their claim due to the arbitration clause and through their barrister, Interactive Technology Corporation Limited requested their full costs of £21,000 inclusive of VAT to be paid by my company.

    In the event, the judge awarded costs of £10,000 + VAT, just shy of £12,000 to be paid within 14 days. This happened six days before Christmas. But the irony of all this is that the owners of Affiliate Edge had to pay £9,000 of their total costs Ė £4,000 more than what I was claiming for.

    My claim was not proven one way or the other. I am certainly not taking up arbitration, as the losing side is exposed to all costs that this process entails. I have been advised it could be £50k plus. For £5,000, this does not make commercial sense.

    What would I advise affiliates who are considering this action? Employ the services of a lawyer. I was naÔve and got burned badly. Lesson learned!

    On the GPWA forums, a thread was started, asking for fellow members to aid you with legal fees. Tell us what that meant to you and your case?

    Duncan Garvie, owner of thepogg.com, and Bryan Bailey, aka Casinomeister.com, wow. They were with me every step of the way after my day in court on 19 December 2017. I cannot thank them enough. It was their idea to gather the affiliate community and my peers to help assist in covering the legal costs I got hit with.

    I had to instruct a lawyer to ensure I could publicly state what the outcome of the stay application was. As Affiliate Edgeís barrister had requested for the court proceedings to be held in private, although there was nothing on the court order to suggest that the outcome was to be kept confidential. I got the green light from my lawyer at the beginning of February that, yes, I could make public the outcome of the stay application, and Duncan decided to post about this the week after the LAC had completed.

    In any event, Affiliate Edge took out an advertorial with Players Publishing and their Trafficology magazine, mentioning the outcome of the case.

    I have to say, I am truly humbled by everyone who pledged, assisting me. I cannot express how grateful I and my family are. We could have raised double the amount we were seeking within 24 hours. I was and still am blown away by the support from my peers.

    I will never forget this, and it is my aim to pay it forward in the future.

    Do you have employees, or do you run your sites by yourself?

    It is just myself, although my wife does administration work. I also do outsource some work from time to time.

    Do you have plans for additional sites? Why or why not?

    At this current moment in time, the short answer would be no. I want to dedicate all my working time in striving to make Online Casino Reviewer a complete one-stop resource for players, and indeed webmasters.

    What makes your site unique? How do you help it stand out from the competition?

    That is a good question. Obviously, every affiliate would like to think they operate one of the best sites in the industry.

    I try to produce informative content from my own perspective as a player, which is my target market, and as a webmaster affiliate operating in this industry. Hence, for example, our webmasters' resource has articles detailing my own experiences, such as dealing with negative SEO attacks and what I did or continue to do to negate them.

    Likewise, with the reviews of the casinos, I try to emphasise my own experience as a player at the property I am reviewing and advocating to our visitors.

    A good case in point being OCRís review of Casumo. I actually got excluded while playing there for six months, as when I took advantage of their TAB (Take a Break) Facility, I gave the reason that I was playing too much at their casino. This raised a red flag as far as their responsible gaming code, and they excluded me for six months as a result.

    Was I annoyed? Hell no, this is just another great example as to why Casumo are a solid outfit. Putting the interests of their players first! I mention this in Casumoís review.

    You make a lot of videos. How did you get into video? What do you like best about video? What kind of reactions have your videos gotten from players and from the community?

    When I reskinned Online Casino Reviewer back at the beginning of 2016, I revisited the social media channels I was currently using and realised that video, i.e., YouTube, is the second-biggest source of organic traffic, after Google. This was an area I had never considered before.

    I donít profess to be any good at them, although the editing aspect I am getting better. It gives me an opportunity to speak my mind. Whether people actually like them or not, I am not too worried about, but it does provide extra stickable content for Online Casino Reviewer. The big plus recording and publishing the videos for the Online Casino Reviewer YouTube Channel has done is make me far more confident as a person. So, from a personal point of view I am glad I took the plunge.

    Videos have also allowed me to connect with other people within the industry, and I have recorded interviews with the likes of Ryan from All British Casino and Tom Galanis from Tag Media, thus further complementing the information available to our visitors on Online Casino Reviewer.

    As far as reactions to the videos. Of those that have viewed them, it has to be fairly favorable. Although looking at my channelís analytics, on one particular day my videos received 132 dislikes. All of them were from Israel, LOL!

    Iíve also been on the receiving end of a couple of disgusting comments Ė I guess I may have hit a nerve or pissed someone off. Having run a political forum for a decade however, it is all water off a duck's back as far as I am concerned. I am pretty much covered in Teflon when it comes to the nasty comments.


    How do you decide what casinos to promote?

    Quite simple, I play at them. Online Casino Reviewer is not a directory Ė indeed, we have more casinos listed in our rogue section than we currently recommend.

    If they are U.S.-facing casinos or casinos without a UKGC licence, and thus I am unable to play there, I build up a relationship with the casino management.

    I also use sites such as Casinomeister.com and thepogg.com as trusted sources. Being a moderator on Casinomeister also helps, as I get wind via the forum if there are issues with particular casinos that affect players.

    Do you gamble online? What about in brick-and-mortar casinos?

    Yes, I do both, but nowhere near as much as I used to. Certainly not the amount I used to gamble. I also introduced a United Kingdom section for Online Casino Reviewer last year. Basically, these are reviews of several land-based casinos (currently only London casinos), where I provide a video walk-through of the casino floor. Filmed in stealth mode!

    How often do you get to see and interact with other people in the industry? Do you still attend conferences regularly?

    I havenít attended many conferences for a number of years. LAC 2017 was the first large conference I had attended for a number of years. I also attended the last couple of EGR Affiliate Summits, and I was on the panel for Affiliate Fest (Affiliate Insider) last year.

    There has to be a tangible ROI for me to consider attending the larger events.

    I do have some very close friends in the industry and we try to meet up in London once in a while to catch up in person. We keep in touch via Skype, the phone and over e-mail on a regular basis too.

    What traits do you look for in an affiliate manager? How about in an affiliate program?

    Honest, open and accessible. If the casino is a good operator, then it stands to reason in the main that the affiliate program behind it is also in good standing.

    What prompted you to join the GPWA? How has it helped you?

    I joined the GPWA back in 2005, when Online Casino Reviewer was in its infancy and I was still working for an operator out in Gibraltar. Being a forum, it has allowed me to connect with my peers.

    Certainly, earlier this year, the likes of the GPWA was instrumental in raising the funds to cover our legal costs incurred.


    What do you like about the industry?

    The people, in the main. There are some top notch people working in this industry, several of who I can truly call my friends. I also love the fact I have been doing a job for the past 14 years which I truly love.

    If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be and why?

    The people in the industry! The operators that scam players. The affiliate programs that detag players. The operators and affiliates that hack websites and those that perform negative SEO attacks.

    What do you think the industry will look like in five years?

    Well, in the U.K., there will be far fewer affiliates targeting U.K. players, and regulation will be even tighter than it is now. Many affiliates will have dropped by the wayside as a result.

    What do your family and friends think of your work as an affiliate?


    They think I just muck around with websites and play on the internet, haha! No, in the main, they think it is great I have forged a career in this space.

    You are active on social media. How important is that to your overall marketing strategy? How much time do you devote social networking for your site?

    Itís important, thatís for sure, but it is not the Holy Grail. Unless you are the streamer, that is! Other than YouTube video content, which is now an intangible part of OCR, I use Twitter, Facebook et al. to publish links to new content that has been written and published on the site.

    What's the most difficult thing about running your site? What's the best thing about running your site?

    It is a labor of love. Writing the content and keeping OCR fresh is enjoyable, albeit time-consuming. The hard part is dealing with those assholes who scrape content, setting up multiple sites using said scraped content, then cloaking it and pushing it to other portals. It is time-consuming but necessary to keep on top of this.

    Last time we spoke, we asked you to give some advice to someone just starting out in the industry. Would you still give the same advice? Is there anything you'd add?

    Identify which aspect of the industry you want to focus on. Continually increase your knowledge Ė be reading resources such as the GPWA. Network with your peers and enjoy what you do. Do not expect to get rich soon, though!

    What do you do to stay in shape Ė both physically and mentally?

    I quit smoking nearly four years ago and shed a few pounds, which both have had a positive impact. Iíve also taken up karate last year. Iíve done this to challenge my son, who has been attending karate classes for some three years now.

    I am catching him up, though, as I have dedicated one on one sessions each week, with my sonís fifth Dan instructor. Maybe next time you interview me, I will be a black belt!

    What do you do with your spare time?

    What spare time? Part of a family of four, two children and also a dog. Spare time? I wish!

    What did you dream of doing, both professionally and personally, when you were a kid?

    Footballer, but I was and still am pretty rubbish at it.

    If you won $10 million playing the lottery tomorrow, what would you do?

    Easy question. Pay off the mortgage and that of my immediate family members. Invest the rest.

    If someone from out of town were visiting you, whatís the one place you'd definitely take them to see?

    The pub! No, if they were interested, as I live in a beautiful part of England, there are many places. Bath is just down the road, as is Stonehenge.

    If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you take with you and why?

    Laptop, so I could continue working. iPod for music. My vape gear. I got to have access to my vaping equipment.

    What's your all-time favorite movie?


    There are too many, seriously. But if a gun were put to my head, I would say a toss-up between The Long Good Friday and Psycho.

    If you could invite any five people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be?

    My mum and dad who sadly are no longer here. My best friend Dave, again who is no longer here. My two children as well, as my mum only met my son when he was 10 days old before she died and never got to see my daughter.

    Name three things that people reading this magazine don't know about you.

    I was an extra in the television program Robin of Sherwood when I was 8 years old.

    Iíve appeared on the BBC Television quiz program Eggheads with my mum, dad, brother and sister.

    Iíve been a vegetarian for 30 years.

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    That's an excellent affiliate interview series, Dave. Well thought out and very thorough in explaining it all. I respect the fact that you're a hard working person who stands up for what they believe in.
    Last edited by vtyunby65; 12 March 2019 at 3:37 pm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GPWA Daniel View Post
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    I was an extra in the television program Robin of Sherwood when I was 8 years old.
    Oh god with Michael Praed ?
    Did quite enjoy that

    Oh great interview as well
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    Nice interview. I enjoyed reading it. If I won $10 million, no one would hear from me again
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    Quote Originally Posted by sweetbet View Post
    Nice interview. I enjoyed reading it. If I won $10 million, no one would hear from me again
    Probably one last time in the "Domains + Websites for sale" thread
    "The harder I work, the luckier I get."

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    Legend.

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    Great interview.

    "As far as reactions to the videos. Of those that have viewed them, it has to be fairly favorable. Although looking at my channel’s analytics, on one particular day my videos received 132 dislikes. All of them were from Israel, LOL!"

    LOL
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