Alex Windsor began his journey as a sports betting affiliate in 2012, starting off with a focus on the U.K. market and transitioning to the U.S. market after the repeal of PASPA. Now serving as the Director of Apps4 web media LTD, Windsor is happy to share his experience in the U.S. market thus far with other affiliates out there, especially for those who are nervous about the licensing process and building relationships with operators in a market they are not as familiar with.
A big thank you to the GPWA for introducing Alex and I, without this helpful iGaming affiliate community we would not be here today. Sharing best practices amongst friends and peers is exactly why the GPWA was launched many years ago, it’s amazing to see the forum is still representing its original purpose.
Becky Liggero Fontana: Thank you so much for joining me today, Alex. Let’s start with why you made the decision to shift your focus from the U.K. affiliate market to the regulated U.S. market?
Alex Windsor: When I heard PASPA had been overturned in 2018 I knew instantly I had to have a piece of the pie. Up until that point our focus had been on the U.K., Italy and Spain, but the U.S. opening up to sports betting was too good of an opportunity to not get involved in. I launched gamble-usa.com in July 2019 and we have been working on it since.
Our U.K. sites have taken a backseat and now 95% of the company’s attention is on the U.S. sites. The U.S. iGaming market is such a potentially huge market. The population size, their love for sports, the diversity of the country and the huge opportunity was too much a draw.
BLF: It really is such an exciting time, the opening up of the U.S. market is what we’ve all been waiting for! Can you tell us what U.S. states you are interested in and why?
AW: The company is licensed now in 6 U.S. states (NJ, IN, CO, TN, MI, & PA) and with applications pending in a 7th state, Virginia. Our main Gamble U.S.A. site covers several states, but we also have state specific sites for Colorado (Gamble Colorado), Tennessee (Gamble Tenn), and Indiana (Gamble Indiana). There are a few states where no licensing is required like Iowa and Illinois where we also have the Gamble-Illinois site.
We have sites to launch in more states soon, including Michigan, but the market is moving so fast, it is almost impossible to keep up. It seems almost every day a new state or a new sportsbook or operator is going live.
BLF: WOW, how impressive! What steps were involved on your end before going live in all of these states, especially the ones which require a license? Any big surprises?
AW: I had no idea how complicated and sometimes time consuming licensing could be. Coming from the U.K. market it was quite a big culture shock to have to get licensed. I do however feel it makes a better market as there is now accountability behind affiliates.
Some state license applications were easier to complete than others. NJ for example is pretty straightforward. PA we had to use a lawyer and also have to submit fingerprints to be licensed. A lot of states require a licensed business address in the state so that is extra paperwork to fill out, especially when you are a U.K. based company.
The biggest surprise was how helpful the operators and licensing bodies are at getting your application processed. I was amazed at how everyone wants to work together to get you licensed.
BLF: Well, that is a nice surprise for sure. Very nice to hear. Now that you’re operational in roughly 10 states, how would you say your overall strategy in the U.S. market differs from the U.K.? How are the American players compared to U.K.-based players, what is it like working with the operator affiliate programs in the U.S. vs. U.K.?
AW: 90% of the U.S. market revolves around CPA commissions so it is a lot different to the U.K. and EU. As legal sports betting is so new to most U.S. residents, there is a lot more education involved. A lot people outside of the U.S. think of Vegas, casinos, sports betting and can’t believe when I tell them that sports betting isn’t allowed in all states and that there are only a small handful that allow online casino and poker.
We are creating a lot more guides to help visitors understand where sports betting is legal, what they can legally bet on, how to place bets online and other helpful guides.
As the market is still so new, not even a lot of U.S. residents are aware of which states they can and can’t gamble online in. There is a long way to go before it becomes as widely available as here in the U.K. A lot of operators are now sponsoring teams and have marketing agreements in place with major leagues which will all help bring it to people’s attention.
We have found the operators and affiliate programs in the U.S. very helpful, especially when it comes to advising on licensing. The market is new for them as well so it’s still a steep learning curve for us all.
The excitement the few weeks before Super Bowl could be felt even through email. Americans are so passionate about sports and their teams and you really get this feel through weekly marketing emails and communications.
BLF: Yes, we are passionate about our sports, especially the Boston-based teams! Ha ha! Jokes, jokes, I’m from Boston…anyway…what are the biggest pieces of advice you have for affiliates who are looking to do the same thing as you?
AW: Be prepared to work all hours, and don’t take your foot off the pedal. The market in the U.S. is so big, you can’t stop for one minute.
There are so many sports, so many states still to come, so many operators, so many opportunities. Different states also have different rules about what you can and can’t bet on, it is like dealing with 50 individual countries.
Every day is a learning day and there is so much to take in, understand and then action. The competition is also hugely fierce already with some of the biggest affiliate companies already dominating the serps with many different branded sites. It’s hard going, but I am sure it will be worth it.
BLF: The opportunities really are endless, anyone can get there with hard work! Any last words of encouragement you would like to add?
AW: Any affiliate looking to get started in the U.S. should focus on one state first. Try and understand the market, the players, the visitors that will be coming to your site and try and offer them the best experience you can.
The days are still very early for sports betting in the U.S. but with the likes of Michigan and Virginia now live, it is extremely busy but exciting times.
BLF: Outstanding Alex, thank you so much for your time and for sharing your insights with us- keep up the amazing work!