SBC News Affiliate Leaders: Paul Puolakka defends listing fees as a security measure

Affiliate Leaders: Paul Puolakka defends listing fees as a security measure

In an exclusive interview with SBC, Paul Puolakka, the CMO of Mr. Gamble, shared the strategies that have positioned the company as a leader in the fiercely competitive iGaming affiliate industry. 

As anticipation builds for the SBC Summit in Lisbon, Puolakka is set to appear on a hotly debated panel on listing fees, which he champions as essential for financial stability and mitigating non-payment risks.

The panel, titled “Debate: Listing Fees for Affiliates – A New Security?” is slated for Wednesday, 25 September, from 14:45 to 15:30 on the Affiliate Leaders Stage. This session is part of the inaugural Affiliate Leaders Summit, a dedicated event designed to foster connections among affiliates, operator managers, and key industry stakeholders. 

Joining Puolakka will be Peter Gunni, CCO of Traffic Lab, with the discussion moderated by Elaine Gardiner-Ruddock, Managing Director at TAG Media. 

SBC: Paul, as an Affiliate Leader, what strategies has Mr. Gamble employed to stay competitive and what unique value does it bring to partners compared to other affiliates in the industry?

Paul Puolakka: At Mr. Gamble, we stay competitive by constantly innovating and refining our product to enhance user experience. Our custom-built CMS and platform provide flexibility that platforms like WordPress can’t match, allowing us to quickly implement changes and tailor our offerings. Our skilled SEO team ensures we remain visible and relevant despite frequent changes in Google’s algorithms.

We also focus on long-term branding, establishing Mr. Gamble as a trusted name in the industry. Recently, we’ve integrated the Mr. Gamble Forum into our main site, boosting transparency by displaying user reviews directly on our platform.

These user insights are invaluable, helping our community make informed decisions. Additionally, we’ve introduced a “Casino Trending” meter, which aggregates data from various sources to show how a casino is trending in real time, providing users with a clear view of its reputation and popularity.

SBC: You’re targeting markets as diverse as Europe, Japan, NZ, Canada and the US. Which of these (or any other geos you work with) are you strongest and why do you think that’s the case?

PP: Our strongest markets currently include the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and several major European countries. The success in these regions can be attributed to our strategic focus on building a robust and globally resonant iGaming brand.

We understand that each market has its unique cultural nuances, and we diligently adapt our offerings to align with local preferences and regulations. For instance, we are currently working on localising our site to better cater to the Japanese market, ensuring it aligns with cultural expectations and user behaviours.

The US market represents a significant growth opportunity for us. We already hold a New Jersey license and are actively seeking additional licenses to expand our footprint.

Our research and feedback indicate that Mr. Gamble’s brand ethos resonates well with US audiences, and we are dedicated to tailoring our offerings to meet the specific demands of this market. The US market’s complexity requires substantial effort, but we are committed to overcoming these challenges and establishing a strong presence.

SBC: With regulatory changes always being one of the hottest topics in our industry, how challenging is it for Mr. Gamble to navigate everything that’s going on? How do you go about ensuring compliance? 

PP: Navigating regulatory changes is indeed challenging, especially in regulated markets like the UK and the US. However, we have a dedicated compliance team that works tirelessly to stay updated on the latest regulatory requirements and ensures our operations adhere to them.

Additionally, we collaborate with external partners who provide expert guidance on navigating the regulatory landscape. This combination of internal expertise and external support allows us to respond quickly and effectively to regulatory changes.

We prioritise compliance-related tasks and maintain open communication with our partners to ensure that any necessary updates are implemented promptly.

Conferences such as those organised by SBC are invaluable for staying informed about industry trends and potential regulatory changes. These events provide us with the opportunity to network with industry peers, share insights, and gain a deeper understanding of the compliance challenges we face.

SBC: As a speaker at the SBC Summit, you’ll be discussing a very interesting topic – that of listing fees. For affiliates advocating for listing fees as a security measure, what specific challenges or experiences have led to this demand for more financial stability in collaborations with operators?

PP: Running an affiliate business today involves significant costs, from content creation and salaries to data, hosting…and the list goes on and on. 

The affiliation business has evolved from small-scale operations to more sophisticated businesses with substantial overheads. Listing fees are one way to ensure that our partners are financially stable and capable of honouring their commitments. 

If an operator cannot afford a reasonable listing fee, it raises concerns about their ability to pay commissions in the long run.

We’ve seen an increase in rogue operators who operate for a few months and then either close affiliate accounts or fail to pay commissions. This poses a significant financial risk to us, as it not only affects our immediate revenue but also the potential future earnings from reliable partners. 

Listing fees provide a small measure of security and help us allocate our resources to partners who are committed and financially stable, ensuring a mutually beneficial relationship.

SBC: How do affiliates propose to establish fair and transparent criteria for determining the amount of listing fees, considering the diverse nature and size of operators in the industry?

PP: Establishing fair and transparent criteria for listing fees involves a thorough evaluation of each partner. We consider factors such as the operator’s financial stability, market presence, and past performance. 

It’s important to tailor the fee structure to reflect the value provided by the affiliate and the potential return on investment for the operator. By working closely with each partner, we ensure that the listing fees are reasonable and justified based on the expected benefits.

Transparency is key in this process. We communicate openly with our partners about the criteria used to determine the fees and provide detailed explanations to justify the costs. 

This collaborative approach helps build trust and ensures that both parties understand the value and necessity of the listing fees.

SBC: Can you discuss alternative approaches or solutions that have been proposed to address the issue of non-payment risk without resorting to listing fees? How do these compare to the proposed model?

PP: Trust is fundamental in our industry, and while listing fees are one way to mitigate non-payment risks, there are alternative approaches. For example, establishing long-term relationships with operators known for their reliability and ethical practices can reduce the need for upfront fees. We also use contractual agreements that include clauses for payment guarantees and penalties for non-compliance.

However, these alternatives come with their own set of challenges. Building trust takes time, and contractual agreements can be complex and difficult to enforce across different jurisdictions. 

Listing fees provide a straightforward and immediate measure of security, ensuring that we can cover our costs and continue delivering high-quality traffic to our partners. 

While we remain open to exploring alternative solutions, listing fees currently offer the most practical and effective way to manage non-payment risks.

SBC: Collaboration and networking are crucial in this industry. How are you planning to utilise your time at the SBC Summit to strengthen or build your relationships with operators and other industry stakeholders?

PP: The SBC Summit provides an excellent opportunity to connect with current and potential partners, as well as industry peers. While I have scheduled meetings, I also value the informal interactions that occur during the event.

Networking events and social gatherings offer a relaxed environment to build relationships and discuss potential collaborations.

I plan to utilise my time at the Summit to gain insights into the latest industry trends, share our experiences, and learn from others.

These interactions are invaluable for staying informed and adapting to the ever-changing landscape of the iGaming industry. Additionally, the Summit in Lisbon offers a vibrant atmosphere, making it an ideal setting for meaningful conversations and forging new partnerships.

I’m looking forward to making the most of this opportunity and further strengthening our presence in the industry!

Check Also

SBC News Better World Casinos CEO on the Unsustainability of Unlimited Growth

Better World Casinos CEO on the Unsustainability of Unlimited Growth

In an industry often associated with risk and controversy, the narrative around ethical and sustainable …

SBC News FairPlay Sports Media: Crossing the Intersection of Technology and Content Creation

FairPlay Sports Media: Crossing the Intersection of Technology and Content Creation

In an era defined by dynamic shifts in technology and consumer behaviour, FairPlay Sports Media …

SBC News SBC Summit: Lisbon Producers Tell All

SBC Summit: Lisbon Producers Tell All

In a noteworthy move last year, SBC announced the relocation of its flagship event to …