Responsible Affiliates in Gambling (RAiG) has announced that its membership body supports ‘in principle the introduction of statutory licensing or registration regime’ for affiliates operating within the UK gambling market.
Support for the introduction of an affiliate-centric licensing regime follows RAiG’s internal review of existing social responsibility and responsible gambling standards related to affiliate marketing practices.
It said in a statement: “Although much can be done on a voluntary basis in pursuit of that, it has been concluded that the right way to ensure that standards rise across the whole sector is for minimum requirements to be set out and implemented by way of some form of licensing or registration process.”
RAiG was formed in May 2019 by the founding members Oddschecker, Racing Post and Better Collective A/S, who pledged to undertake an annual social responsibility audit conducted by Gambling Integrity as an independent adjudicator.
In its statement, RAiG detailed that its membership would support a radical overhaul of UK affiliate marketing, dependent on the ‘proposed system’ and the clear recognition of benefits for consumers.
Commenting on developments, RAIG Chairman Clive Hawkswood said: “The decision to support the principle of a licensing or registration system was not taken lightly and we have been assessing the pros and cons for many months.
“This issue will achieve greater prominence as the Government’s review of the Gambling Act 2005 picks up pace and it is vital that we play a constructive role as policies evolve rather than waiting on the side-lines for measures to be imposed.”
Aware of regulatory complexities, RAiG recommended that the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) fulfil the role of licensing body for gambling affiliates’ new regime.
The UKGC is preferred to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which RAiG noted oversees the regulation of UK advertising, but has never served as a licensing body or statutory regulator.
Backing its new objective, RAiG stated that the UKGC has already established precedents for direct licensing of third-party suppliers such as industry software suppliers, testing houses and independent providers of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services.
RAiG’s call for statutory licensing follows its April statement, in which the trade body supported new social responsibility measures alongside further advertising and VIP restrictions developed by the Betting and Gaming Council’s (BGC) ‘leadership workshops’.
Despite its support of higher standards for UK gambling, Clive Hawkswood underscored that the UKGC and BGC could not sideline affiliates from the industry’s ‘collaborative approach on reforming gambling‘.
Since its inception, new publishers Bonus Finder, Moneta Communications and Natural Intelligence have joined the trade body.
Hawkswood added: “It is appreciated that this is an issue where opinion across the sector is divided and RAiG will make clear that, as with any trade body, it can only speak on behalf of its members.
“Despite that, we hope everyone in the affiliate marketing world and beyond will keep an open mind about any proposals which would serve to create a safer gambling environment. As with all forms of licensing and regulation, the devil is usually in the detail and the aim must be to work with all stakeholders to ensure that any provisions are proportionate and, most important of all, effective in improving safeguards for consumers.”