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Comtrade’s Steven Valentine: A case for objective bonusing terms

Steven Valentine - bonusing
Steven Valentine

Regulatory attentiveness in 2017 held monumental bonusing based consequences for gaming operators in the UK, writes Steven Valentine, Director of Interactive at Comtrade Gaming.

Whether it’s in the form of player acquisition, retention or re-engagement, it seems that the subjective nature of bonusing terms is no longer up to interpretation. According to the UKGC, trust in the gambling sector is significantly declining, prompting operators to shift their attention to transparent player marketing to build their business strategy.

While some operators will have to act as public examples with regulatory fines, prioritising fair marketing campaigns will serve as an additional responsibility that both operators and technology providers will have to tackle. In closer collaboration with platform providers, operators can ensure that players will engage better with fairer bonusing structures by having the technology at hand to support regulatory changes.

Outside of the gaming industry, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is also on the receiving end of numerous complaints about “free bets”. What is of particular concern to industry watchdogs are the subjective, unclear and opaque conditions around deposits and wagers to qualify for the promotional bets and the questionable descriptions surrounding their ‘risk-free’ nature.

Bonusing in its updated (and impartial) form can provide considerable benefits to players, especially as platforms improve their functionality along regulatory preferences to optimise the online gaming experience. According to a recent study by Label Insight, up to 94 percent of consumers surveyed indicated that they were more likely to be loyal to a brand that offers transparency, while 73 percent said they were willing to pay more for a product that offers complete transparency.

These statistics show that brand loyalty and high player life-time value begin with the simplest and basic business practices. The Gambling Commission’s emphasis on ensuring licensees act accordingly with bonusing terms also extends to platform providers and suggest numerous conditions around bonusing offers.

In terms of the Do’s and Don’ts of bonus requirements, half of the responsibility also falls on platform providers who must develop the framework to quickly and effectively communicate bonus eligibility, differentiate between playing and bonusing funds in e-wallets and allow players to exit promotions with remaining deposits and winnings.

Nonetheless, not all gaming platforms are created equally, and this can create a significant effect on bonus campaigns and the operator’s ability to follow strict regulation to optimise their business.

The advantage of online bonuses are the immediate configuration possibilities based on legislative requirements, opportunities to influence player life-time value and adjustments to individual acquisition responses. Operators looking to be aligned with the Gambling Commission’s priorities should turn to platforms that are as technologically advanced as the regulatory system is active – such as is Comtrade Gaming’s iCore – The Enterprise Gaming Platform.

Bonusing modules within online platforms serve as a single point for bonus management across multiple brands, suppliers and products and work as the control center for both legal, business and marketing strategies.

The UK’s regulatory regime is both liberal and responsible. Due to the high level of online product penetration, the UK plays a key role in shaping the global gaming market and we can expect for other markets to follow suit.

Whether it is UKGC’s CEO Sarah Harrison stern warning that, ‘We will intervene’, or the Competition and Market’s Authority (CMA) declaration that ‘making the withdrawal of deposit winnings conditional on meeting wagering requirements is a significant restriction on the consumer’s right to withdraw’, operators will have to turn to their platform providers for highly effective platform functionality, bonusing features and legal compliance.

The operators who pride their business on longevity and high player loyalty avoid ambiguous marketing campaigns as it affects all levels of their online operations and ultimately leads to million-dollar penalties and losses.

Industry-leading gaming sites make sure to substantiate bonusing campaigns with clear terms and conditions, but accountability and consent also falls on the player to inform themselves about what they are agreeing to participate in by reading the requirements and limitations.

Bonusing, accompanied with gamification, is shaping to be one of the defining benefits to the multi-channel experience and a point of differentiation among operators. When we consider the facts, it’s hard to ignore that legal bonusing can provide brand transparency, attract players and increase player life-time value.

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