Sky Betting & Gaming is pulling the plug on its affiliate marketing programme just days after claims that some affiliate sites are deliberately pushing long-odds bets as they can earn huge commission from bookmakers on the losses their followers make.
According to a Guardian investigation, affiliates have a vested interest in seeing their tips lose because they take up to a 30% cut of the losses.
Affiliates have become one of the main ways for online casinos and bookmakers to gain new customers since the cost of conventional pay-per-click advertising has risen sharply in recent years.
Set up in 2001, the company operates five core brands, SkyBet, SkyVegas, SkyCasino, SkyPoker and SkyBingo and is majority owned by CVC Capital Partners, with Sky holding a 20% stake.
Although the firm was not named in the Guardian report, it claims the move has been sparked by “growing regulatory concerns” over practices in the sector.
All commission and player referrals with its existing affiliate marketing partners will cease from October 2, with the firm asking its partners to remove all marketing materials from their websites.
In a statement, the company said: “The regulatory landscape in which the industry operates is developing and maturing and operators are experiencing increased obligations regarding their regulatory responsibilities and level of compliance.
“In order to continue to operate in a compliant manner, we feel that operating the programme is no longer viable and that managing the output of affiliates presents a significant risk to our business from a regulatory perspective. It is for this reason that we have chosen to terminate the programme.”
Pressure has been growing on the Government to clamp down on the gaming industry – which is self-regulated – for months. There have also been claims that companies are using third-party data providers to target punters on lower incomes.
Online betting firm 888 was last week fined a record £7.8m after a Gambling Commission investigation found that more than 7,000 of its users who had voluntarily banned themselves from gambling were still able to access their accounts. One customer was allowed to make 850,000 bets worth £1.3m in one year, using money stolen from their employer.
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