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    GPWA Dan is offline Former Staff Member
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    Default Affiliate Interview Series - Gene Hastings (casinocrush)

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    Age:
    36 and just over a half
    Hometown: Fleet, Hampshire (U.K.)
    City currently residing in: same
    Favorite food: Steak! Give me steak!
    One book everyone must read: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, by Mark Haddon
    Sites: casino-crush.com, poker-crush.com, bingo-crush.com, onlineslotstourneys.com, blogaming.com and a bunch of other domains I bought but haven’t got to using fully yet

    You launched Casino-Crush about 10 years ago. How has the site changed, and how have your players changed, over the past decade?

    Wow, has it been that long? Well, when I first started it was with a friend on one of those free domains (I cringe now when I think back!). I realized the limitations of these free sites and being a geek (had a Commodore 64 computer when I was 8 and learned basic programming from that) I wanted a more interactive site. It was 6 years ago when I first got a “proper” hosting package/server. I found PHP/MySQL and got to learning and trying things, spending all my evenings trying things out and slowly getting the site together.

    I wrote my first “casino bonus database,” which was searchable by a few basic criteria (software type, bonus type), and have continually improved this with many more now. When I first started Casino-Crush forum, I knew I wanted it to be “different” but mainly asked members to challenge me with what they would like, and this has kept me busy ever since with many great additions and lots of great members and staff – love it!

    Over the years I’ve seen a growing mix of players and I think most of us have gone through various frustrations – whether it’s not being able to play due to legislation, taking weeks to get a cash-out or (my pet hate) bad customer service. I believe players are getting more selective about where they play (and so they should) and being a keen player myself I am always intrigued to learn and share experiences with our community. I think the social networking and forums have made players increasingly more sociable and vocal about their online gaming experiences – something I am very pleased to see.

    How did you get involved in the online gaming industry? What did you do before becoming involved? Are you still an IT consultant at a major UK bank?

    Well, going back far enough I guess it started with my playing fruit machines at arcades – it’s something about the flashing lights, I think. Later on I had my first online casino experience at Ladbrokes and slowly learned that there were others with the same games, different bonus options, etc. The first affiliate program I stumbled upon was Referback but I can’t remember how. I read about it and I thought, “No – that sounds too easy / too good to be true.” However, I always wanted to make a Web site and this was something I was interested in, so finally I had a subject to base it on. At this point I thought, “Unlikely to make any money but it’s just a hobby.” Earning money would be the next challenge!

    I quit my “day job” when my earnings from the affiliate business regularly exceeded my salary. I felt like I achieved much more in the evenings doing my “[now not just a] hobby” compared to the day job – it was a very easy decision and always makes me smile when I think about handing in my notice.

    How long was it before your gambling sites started earning you money?

    I think in my first 2 years I earned a total of $50 (and I think that was shared!). It was 6 years ago when I started Casino-Crush.com and earned $200 (of which I gave away $50 for forum contests) in the first month – it wasn’t a “living” then but it was such a buzz to have a working site that earned anything that I couldn’t stop there. Within the first 2 years of running a “proper” site (not on the free domains) I was earning enough to do it full time.

    How did you discover the GPWA? Has membership helped you in any way?

    I believe I had Casino-Crush.com for a year or so before I found affiliate forums at all. I think I originally found GPWA when I was trying to find out whom I’d been paid by and that magical forum “who sent this money” was there. Membership has helped me in getting more contacts, and I have often read and picked up a few tips from others or seen bits of news that otherwise I wouldn’t have. I don’t spend as much time as many others on the forums as I prefer to focus on developing and maintaining my sites.

    What are your thoughts on the value of displaying the GPWA Approved Portal seal on your sites?

    I’m sure the “approved” seal and the listing from GPWA help give some “recognition,” particularly for new visitors and forum members.

    What’s the hardest thing about operating your sites, and what annoys or distracts you the most when you’re trying to get some work done?

    Easy – SPAMMERS! I ended up so annoyed with it I developed my own “anti-spam” filtering for the forum – and the more we get, the better our filters get. I kind of turned it into a challenge, which so far I feel I’m winning!

    Do you gamble online? If so, what do you play?

    Oh yes! I generally play the video slots with free spins features – mostly the ones that can re-trigger – because I like the fact that a single spin can go on and on winning! I also play Keno sometimes if I want a slower and more relaxed game.

    How do you spend your time off?

    I like to meet up with friends, go to parties and festivals – particularly anything involving going to another country as I love to travel as often as I can. I have to go to Vegas at least once a year and this year was even better as I got to meet and have dinner with some of our forum members.

    What’s your favorite vacation spot?

    For over 10 years I’ve wanted to go to Australia but have so far never been. I’m actually leaving for there in just a few days – that’s my “dream destination,” soon to be realized. Vegas is always good but for the best sun-soaking with cocktails I’d have to say Bali and Cancun were my favorites so far.

    If you had to pick five keys to success as an affiliate, what would they be and why?

    - Patience! I see so many places start up and because they don’t succeed right away they give up far too quickly.
    - Look, listen and learn. I learned a lot from others in the industry via GPWA and CAP, some of which if I’d realized sooner would have helped me start quicker (but don’t spend all day there discussing how you’re not making enough money – spend time designing Web pages and you will probably make more! LOL).
    - Do your own thing. Try to be at least a bit different from other places. This I think was a key success factor – for Casino-Crush.com in particular.
    - Enjoy your work! I believe you always do a much better job when you enjoy your work.
    - Keep up to date – I think it’s always important to try and keep offers and information as up to date as possible (although this is one thing I still struggle with). I think it’s very important that if a visitor clicks on a banner that the page showing the offer reflects what they are expecting from the banner.

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

    I think in some ways I’d like to see more government regulation of gambling sites in the industry. I think this would improve the way that many people view “online gambling.” For my USA players obviously I’d like to see UIGEA gone and them being able to play with Microgaming again!

    Which players generate more revenue for you – poker players or casino players?

    Casino players – I think because Casino-Crush.com is very casino focused. I don’t play poker so much and find it harder to write about (but I have a new team of people at Poker-Crush.com who have injected a new lease on life into the site and it’s working better already).

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

    I remember my parents were a bit worried when I first said I was a gambling affiliate (and explained what it meant! LOL). I think that changed when they saw it earning me a living and me smiling a lot more often. My friends envy the “flexible working from home” life. I chat with my more “technical” friends about changes I’ve been making recently and often they give me good ideas often without knowing it.

    What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the industry?

    I think it really depends on the person and what he or she is trying to achieve. I think the essential prerequisites are patience and the willingness to learn. If you have them, then go for it! But don’t go spamming my forum with your links!

    What’s the first concert you attended in person?

    It was Blur + Beats International at Bristol University. It was a great start to my “studying.”

    If you could visit any three places in the world, what would they be, and why?

    Australia generally – as a child that was called “the other side of the world” and whilst my geography may not be perfect – that seemed like a good reason as well as the many great things I hear about it. Tokyo – it looks like a real hectic place and I’d love to see those big city lights. Some exotic island full of people who like to party. The reason – just sounds like my kind of place.

    If you could have one "super power," what would it be? And why?


    The ability to teleport would be fantastic. I could travel a lot more, and would never have to suffer airport delays! I would travel a LOT more!

    What’s your all-time favorite TV show and your favorite movie?

    My favorite TV show I’d say is “Peep Show” for comedy value, but I have loved watching “Doctor Who” for years. My favorite movie is so tricky – I’m not good at picking one favorite! I like most Jim Carrey movies because he always makes me laugh.

    If you were casting a movie (with yourself in the starring role), who would play your romantic interest?

    And why? I think Zooey Deschanel, simply because I love the way she looks and sounds – she’s crackin’!

    And finally, what are three things that nobody knows about you?

    1. I had a dream where I came up with THE best, unique idea for a Web site but forgot when I awoke. (I spend significant parts of my day trying to remember “dream detail.”)
    2. I used to collect postage stamps (many many years ago) – probably still have them somewhere. (Well, they might be worth something one day!)
    3. I have a New Year’s resolution to go to more affiliate parties in 2010.

  2. The Following User Says Thank You to GPWA Dan For This Useful Post:

    EugeneK (20 May 2010)

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