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  1. #1
    GPWA Daniel is offline Associate Editor
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    Default Affiliate Interview Series - Thomas D.

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    (This interview was originally published in the December 2020 issue of the GPWA Times Magazine.)

    Let’s start with your professional background. What did you do before getting into the online gaming industry?
    After leaving University back in 2003, I spent 14 years working as a meteorology expert witness and occasional broadcast meteorologist on local and regional radio. This was a very demanding job, long hours and extensive travel, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

    In 2017, I got to chatting with a colleague at the local meteorological office, who later became my business partner, and the idea of working as a casino affiliate got started.

    On your GPWA member profile you proudly state that your site is “leading the revolt against rogue online casinos and the numerous websites that promote unlicensed operators to make a quick buck.” Tell us more about this “revolt” and why it’s important to you.
    Over the past few years, more especially since GAMSTOP (the national self-exclusion service) was launched, there has been a rapid increase in illegally operating casinos targeting the U.K. market. The on-going COVID-19 pandemic has added more incentives to the operators of these rogue sites who now offer credit card payments (which has been banned in the U.K.), instant bank transfers and even American Express deposits!

    Through my affiliate site, I give visitors real-time information that the casinos are fully licenced by the Gambling Commission and ensure that no rogue sites are included.

    On your Casinoquest website you offer a Deposit Guarantee whereby if a player’s funds are “unjustly seized by an operator” and that player joined through any link on your website or app, you will refund the last deposit up to £500 within 28 days with “no questions asked.” Explain to us the idea behind offering such a guarantee and how effective you feel it has been in helping convert visitors to your site.
    I want everyone who visits my site to have complete faith in the casinos listed. By offering a personal guarantee the player has a point of contact if something goes wrong.

    It also boosts my working relationship with affiliate managers as we have more frequent contact and the chance to work together on a resolution.

    You have a comprehensive casino review section with information such as verified withdrawal times, welcome bonus offers, software providers and real-time licensing information and you promote over 300 brands and close to 100 affiliate programs. How did you build such a robust database and how effective is it for attracting visitors to your site?
    The entire web site and database took around a month to build and thankfully I have a small group of verified players who regularly submit withdrawal times and operator feedback.

    How big is your operation? Do you have employees or use freelancers?
    At the moment I am completely on my own, but am actively advertising for a compliance manager to take on the web site and marketing. This will give me more time to work on upcoming projects.

    You recently posted in the GPWA Forums about the sudden death of your business partner. Do you mind explaining the history between the two of you, how long you were partners and how it has changed the business in the short term?
    This came as a big shock and it was only a few days after I learned that I had no access to any of the databases or even the passwords to the website or domain name. Everything had been kept on my partner’s laptop and there was no way to gain access.

    We worked together for three years, each on our own part of the business. I handled the emails and phone calls, whereas my partner dealt solely on the upkeep and compliance of the web site.

    When it became clear that I would be unable to regain access to the site, I had to think of a new plan quickly to somehow salvage all the hard work put in over the years. This involved registering a new domain name and starting the site from scratch.
    Thankfully, this all happened in lockdown, so I had ample opportunity to get things working again.

    Speaking of the lockdown, how did the COVID-19 pandemic affect you both personally and professionally?
    In the first few months of the pandemic, traffic levels and depositing players were up significantly, but over the summer and early autumn, the number of depositing players has dropped below previous years for the same time. As another lockdown looms and players manage their money differently, this is in line with my expectations.

    I was very quick to increase responsible gambling messages throughout the site and on social media. Some promotions were also removed from the site to ensure players were not tempted to spend more than they could afford.

    Personally, I find working from home enjoyable but do look forward to returning to the office. Bizarrely, I miss the morning commute, crammed in an underground train with my fellow Londoners!

    In September, you produced some new creative web apps with the help of Infogram, including an Evolution Monopoly Tracker and an Evolution Crazy Time Tracker. Please tell us more about this endeavor.
    I spent much of lockdown testing various ways of real-time monitoring of progressive jackpots and live casinos game shows. Using real money (gambling £40 or £50 per round) via automation to keep track proved very expensive over time, so I spoke to Dell and they showcased some AI software, and in the end, I was sold. The accuracy of the AI on Evolution Gaming’s Crazy Time for example is 99.5% so it is a no brainer for me!

    Keeping these logs of live game play also helps with the Deposit Guarantee service as several players get in touch after having their bets rejected during bonus rounds. We provide the video evidence of a particular round and they have proof when submitting their complaint.

    I have recently finished testing of Playtech’s live games and hope to add these to the site soon. Buffalo Blitz Live is a favorite game of mine, so it will be interesting to see how big the multipliers are when I’m sleeping!

    How have the many recent regulations changes in the U.K. affected your business and how have you adapted?
    I’ve always kept my site overly compliant with all the small print listed so haven’t had to make any changes.

    One of the advantages of using AI, is that as soon as a casino makes a change to a promotion, I am notified instantly so I can make these changes even before the affiliate manager has made contact.

    The changes made recently including the removal of quick spin options, Source of Wealth for frequent depositors and the upcoming max stake limits are very welcome. It keeps the player in control of their deposits and time spent online gambling.

    What's your approach to SEO and drawing traffic to your sites? How much time do you spend on SEO specifically?
    I barely spend any time on SEO and have not spent any money promoting my current or previous affiliate sites. I am a strong believer that if you have a website that offers a good service, it will be found naturally or by word of mouth.

    My previous casino affiliate site had between 750-1,000 visitors daily with only a few natural backlinks. That kept me busy enough on most days handling player disputes and general enquiries!

    Do you gamble online? What about in brick-and-mortar casinos? Why or why not?
    I only gamble for a short period, whether it is online or land-based. When I visit my local casino in Leicester Square, I can literally be in and out within minutes if I win on my first roulette spin or blackjack hand.

    When I visit Las Vegas, it is a different story! I love the atmosphere of a large-scale casino, the free drinks and the potential of winning a multi-million dollar jackpot.

    2020 is the first year for as long as I can remember that I haven’t visited Vegas. I know the bright lights of the city will be waiting next year – COVID permitting!

    What traits do you look for in an affiliate manager and affiliate program?
    Communication is key when choosing which affiliate programs to work with. I am very traditional with the business, so have a dedicated “landline” phone. Sometimes e-mail does not quite cut it, so a good old-fashioned telephone conversation works best. In all my years, I have never used Skype!

    There are some amazing affiliate managers out there. Renée Mate at Rewards Affiliates for example is one I regularly communicate with to ensure compliance and players get the best offers.

    If you could change one thing about the industry these days, what would it be and why?
    The casino affiliate industry needs to be licensed. That way it would eradicate all the rogue affiliates who promote the unlicensed casinos and action could be taken against them. At the moment, it’s a free-for-all and all the honest affiliates are suffering.

    If every affiliate had to pay an annual fee for a license, say €5,000, it would certainly clean things up!

    What do you enjoy most about the iGaming affiliate industry?
    I love speaking with other affiliates, whether in person at affiliate conferences or by e-mail. I don’t see others as competition, I see opportunities to share information and maybe learn a few more things!

    What do you think the industry will look like in five years?
    COVID-19 has and will continue to impact the industry at least for the next few years. We will see many more big-name operators leave the U.K. market and the closure of many affiliate programs.

    Worst case scenario, we will see only the big bookmaker websites left for U.K. players in five years’ time.

    What do you do to stay in shape – both physically and mentally?
    I’m lucky enough to live near the Thames Footpath so a daily jog keeps me fit and also allows me to take in the sights of London. I love listening to music, this keeps my mental state on par – and I try to avoid watching the news too often!

    If someone from out of town were visiting you, what’s the one place you'd definitely take them to see?
    London has so much to offer, especially during the summer months. Claridge’s Bar is my first port of call of an evening with company then on to a West End show. I’m looking forward to a return to normality in the near future!

    If you could invite any five people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be?
    Stephen Hawking, Martin Luther King Jr, John Lennon, Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth II.

  2. The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to GPWA Daniel For This Useful Post:

    betizen (19 March 2021), FreeSpins (17 March 2021), GPWA Maria (17 March 2021), The Buzz (17 March 2021), Tina Sheldon (18 March 2021)

  3. #2
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    GPWA Maria is offline APCW/GPWA Program Manager
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    Thank you for the interview!
    Feature your Affiliate Program with us and enjoy the rewards!

    Regards,

    Maria Florides
    GPWA Program Manager
    GPWA.org | iGamingAffiliatePrograms.com | FinanceAffiliatePrograms.com | GPWAtimes.org | iGamingPocketDirectory.com | APCW.org

    Mob: +35796453758 | Skype: Maria.florides1 | Email: Maria@gpwa.org

  4. #3
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    Cash Bonus is offline Private Member
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    A good interview and thanks for presenting it to the GPWA.

    I respect the fact that you say you're running the full operation completely on your own.

    I'm very sorry to hear about the passing of your business partner.

  5. #4
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    gil.langelaan is offline Private Member
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    Interesting to read!

    Thanks for posting that!

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