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    GPWA Daniel is offline Associate Editor
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    Default Affiliate Interview Series - Andrew H.

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    (This interview was originally published in the April 2021 edition of the GPWA Times Magazine.)

    You work with LegalBet Ltd as site manager. Please tell us about the company and what your daily duties are?

    I joined quite recently in late 2020 to manage some of the English speaking sites. It is a fairly large company with around 100 employees and the head office is in Riga, Latvia. There are around 20 LegalBet sites around the world and it is still growing.

    The company roots actually go back to 2006-2007 and I was a friend of the founder. Way back then, it was known as “Intelbet.” It kept this name until around 2018 when there was some trademark issues with an existing Russian brand, so it had to change to complement the global expansion, so “LegalBet” became the brand.

    My daily duties are quite varied and depend on what is happening at that time and what deadlines need to be met. All duties revolve around maintaining the content of the sites, marketing and dealing with affiliate matters.

    What previous professional experience do you have and was the iGaming industry a place you always wanted to work in?

    Previously, I had ran my own (much smaller) gambling portal called TheGamblingTimes.com from 2006 to 2016. I also used to gamble professionally during that time. From that, I knew a large amount about the industry, but at the same time in just four years an awful lot evolved and people had moved on, as well. The iGaming industry is probably my favorite place to have ever worked, or at least it appears to be the thing I am best at.

    How has your past work experience benefited you in your current position?

    It has helped that I have a large amount of knowledge and experience in gambling, and so writing content is a bit easier and, in my opinion, a bit better for that. It has helped that I know how to prioritize things, and make sure you dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s before moving on to the next step.

    Let’s talk more about the LegalBet sites, which has an interesting rating system for bookmakers. Please tell us more about the system, how it works, how well it does converting traffic, and what your site visitors like most about it?

    There is a small section of the ratings page which are “Sponsored,” this is clearly marked and these positions are paid for by the bookmakers. The majority of affiliate sites rank the operators on their pages almost solely on the remuneration they get and they are not always as open about saying so.

    I can understand that though, when it was proposed we would have a sponsored section and declare it as such, many people in the company were opposed to the idea thinking that if we state that, then conversions or FTDs would drop. But after we tried it, in actual fact we realized nothing changed!

    Other than those positions though, the vast majority of ratings are either user generated by a voting system, or they actually come from real empirical data from the gambling sites. For example, with the ratings for who has the best “odds,” we have taken certain games and inputted the odds each bookmaker is offering for real on that event today, and from that our backend system calculates the “overround,” or you could say “margin” or “vig,” and it then automatically puts the bookmakers with the best odds and the most value at the top. This is an incredibly good system compared to most and we want more people to know about it.

    At the moment for getting visitors to the site and converting traffic, we actually do best from Google SEO work. This is where the company specializes. We are building that up now for the sites I run, alongside obviously trying to have useful, relevant, valuable content once they have got there.

    What are the most successful markets for LegalBet Ltd? And how long has LegalBet Ltd targeted the U.S. and Nigerian markets?

    Russia is, by far, the most successful market at the moment. LegalBet.ru is in around second or third place in terms of being the largest market player. The next largest markets for us are, perhaps as you would expect, some of the CIS nations, but it is expanding into Western Europe now.

    Spain is strong and Ireland will be opening soon. Nigeria has been open less than a year so is not too big yet, but there is a lot of ambition to grow to have a LegalBet site for every country in the world, where it is legal to gamble. Someone in the company told me they hope to be bigger than Catena Media. He joked, “We will buy them.”

    I am not directly involved with the USA site, but I know we found it was a very different market compared to what we were used to. For example, for the sports that we provide data for and write about, previously in Europe it has been football dominated. But now we need to consider baseball, American football . . . you get the idea.

    This different culture, which also spilled into different marketing preferences, took some time to learn. In the first year though, it beat expectations and is growing fast despite COVID. The main headache I have been told is the state-by-state regulation that can apply. Each state can be the same as operating in basically a new country. You may require new separate licenses, there are new marketing rules or regulations, different bookmakers operate in some states, but not others, and even if they operate across more than one state you probably need to use different affiliate codes. There is a lot to get right. But the USA is the market with the most potential for sure, it is like a coiled spring and once it opens up, as it is, the growth will be phenomenal.

    LegalBet Ltd has a very active news/blog sections. Is it true that “content is king”? How much does an active blog section with daily previews and the like help with traffic and converting traffic?

    I think that content is everything, really. Getting people to your site is half the job, but if you have nothing interesting or of any value, then they won’t stay for long, nor will they return.

    Having fresh content adds some value to the user, be it a unique interview or interesting, informative game previews, or in-depth, accurate bookmaker reviews. All of these things grow your brand value and are key to having long-term success. The Russian site has a great “tipster” section and it keeps the all-time records so it is very transparent. This builds trust and the users like that. They also have an active dispute division which has helped return over €830,000 to players. I hope the U.K. site can replicate some of these things.

    What are the other keys to generating traffic and getting repeat visitors?

    I think it is a multi-strand thing. Firstly, you obviously need people to trust the website and its content. There are a few ways to achieve it — the GPWA seal being one — but they normally take time to gain that kind of information. Partnering with experts can help, as we gain from their reputation and look good by association.

    In terms of getting first-time visitors to the site, we have found that some of the most successful articles can come from niche events. Things that not many other sites have written about, but we did, which means we get a disproportionate amount of that traffic. We try to write articles and blog posts as far in advance as possible, so we can update the story as time goes by, but we always have something there.

    Ultimately though, it is about having a quality product. In the future for the U.K., that is what we hope to have. The site will have many features, such as assisting with player complaints, genuine and thorough reviews, and a game center full of current statistics, as well as predictions and tips for players. If you were to look at legalbet.ru now, that is what I want legalbet.uk to be in the next few years.

    What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started at LegalBet Ltd?

    When I started, there was a guy working with me called Rihards Lozins who was one of the most knowledgeable, efficient, hard-working guys I have ever worked with. He was a Stakhanovite! He moved on at the beginning of this year. I did not know he was going to be leaving and I wish I had learned more from him while he was there.

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

    The program should have good reporting and ideally (this is rare) stats which update in real time and also allow you to hone in on your players and analyze what they are actually doing. After that, a decent commission rate obviously helps, but just being transparent at the start is better than having a high headline rate, then adding spurious deductions.

    Tracking correctly is also important and something we have a huge problem with. We have estimated almost 90% of the systems don’t count correctly and have pretty opaque reporting. We are having particular problems at the moment with app downloads not being recorded correctly as a FTD. Any affiliate program to properly address this we would be very interested in.

    As far as a manager goes, it is important to have someone who replies to you reasonably quickly, if not that day, then definitely the next day, but at the same time is not too pushy. Getting contacted four or five times a week over very minor new promotions or upgrades on a website can be a little annoying sometimes. So an affiliate manager who also knows to keep their distance sometimes is good. At the same time, it is important to be friendly. I met a guy once just because he was an affiliate manager at Skrill and today he is one of my best friends!

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

    It would be nice if it was a bit more stable, and when you agree to a “lifetime revenue deal” then that does actually mean that. But due to a large number of factors it often does not. For this reason, I have never put all my eggs in one basket, so to speak. You need to diversify and have several revenue streams since you never know when one may suddenly stop.

    If an 18-year-old friend told you he or she wanted to become an iGaming affiliate, what would your advice be?

    Try to work at a smaller company who is growing fast. You will have much more opportunities to progress and your job will be safer than at a larger company where you are a small fish in a big pond.

    How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you both personally and professionally?

    Personally, it has had a huge effect as I was meant to return to the U.K. around March last year, but at that time lockdowns were beginning to kick in and the COVID virus was taking off in Europe. Thailand has remarkably kept a lid on it and (as of end of February 2021) there has only been around 80 deaths in total out of 70 million people. The U.K. did not look like a fun place to be last year (and still isn’t) so I am still here in the sunshine. I will return to the U.K. once it has all calmed down a bit.

    March/April 2020 was a very bad time for us professionally. The LegalBet group had some people on probation and we had to let them go. We did not know how long the lockdowns would go on for, and when there was zero sport to bet on, obviously our revenue fell similarly. Managers had to take a 33% haircut on their salaries, top management lost as much as 50%. Fortunately, when things picked up it was possible to reimburse the lost wages, and some of the probation staff were rehired, but not all of them.

    This was such a blow that when in January 2020 there were record figures coming in, it was a major disappointment for everyone on so many levels. But regardless, despite all we went through in 2020, we grew on most metrics, just not by as much as we hoped.

    Do you gamble online?

    I used to gamble online a lot and it was my main source of income for a few years. Slowly, but surely, bookmakers and casinos either limited or shut my accounts down completely.

    In the end, it was too much effort to get the bets I wanted to place on, so I had to stop. I do still gamble now and then, but not seriously and only really at the exchanges (Betfair or Smarkets) where I can actually get a decent sized bet on!

    I have been in (land-based) casinos before, but only three times in my life. Once in Perth (Australia), once in Moscow (Russia) and once in Sheffield in the U.K. I left slightly up in all three of them, purely by luck. I have no intention of going to one again, although in all three the food was great and I had a lovely time, so it could happen.

    You list playing pool as one of your interests on your GPWA profile. Are you a pool shark? Would you take all of our money if we challenged you?

    I am nowhere near as good as I should be given how much I play, but I am probably above average. My team has won a few leagues before, which I was very proud of, but I was just one of five players, and, if truth be told, the other four are better than me.

    After I lost a game once in the middle of a match I sat back down, my fiancé, who was there supporting me, said, “You see everyone looking at you? That’s because nobody can understand how you got onto this team!” The truth hurts sometimes.

    I do not play for money in heads up games, so I definitely would not take all of yours. My largest-ever tournament win was 3,000 THB, so about $100. I am not going to win the Mosconi Cup anytime soon.

    What are your other hobbies?

    I used to do a lot of cycling and would really like to get back into that. I cycled across the U.K. before. One Friday evening, I thought I would like to see if I could do it and that Sunday morning my housemate drove me and my bike to Lowestoft, the most Easterly point of the U.K. I ended up on the Welsh Coast in Aberystwyth five days later. It was great fun, probably the best week of my life.

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

    That is a good question. I think probably Bokey Bar, which is where the Hua Hin pool league is run and has everything you could want from a bar in Thailand. It has EVERYTHING. It is my favorite place to be when I want to relax. For someone out of town though, who is maybe in Thailand for the first time, getting up early and going for a walk on the beach to Khao Takiab is beautiful and you see so many interesting things on the way.

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

    George Orwell, Terry Wogan, Jarvis Cocker, Grant Holt and Ricky Gervais.

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


    1. I have two guinea pigs, both are called Spartacus.



    1. My favorite number is genuinely 142,857.



    1. I used to collect spoons!
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    Last edited by The Buzz; 1 July 2021 at 2:28 pm.

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    drifter8 is offline Private Member
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    Very interesting interview. I liked it , especially with the part of limitations of bookies.

    Long ago there were time when you had the chance to bet big an on any sports.

    Also legalbet.ru is amazing site (I am definitely a fan of it

    For the newcomers, this is a must-read interview

    Thanks, Andi for the sincere and transparent answers.
    Seven times fall, eight times stand.

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