1. By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies .This website or its third-party tools use cookies, which are necessary to its functioning and required to achieve the purposes illustrated in the cookie policy.Find out more.
    Dismiss Notice
  2. Follow Casinomeister on Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Casinomeister.us US Residents Click here! |  Svenska Svenska | 
Dismiss Notice

Poll:Best Screenshot of the Month?



Candidates Revealed...Cast your vote!.
Dismiss Notice
REGISTER NOW!! Why? Because you can't do diddly squat without having been registered!

At the moment you have limited access to view most discussions: you can't make contact with thousands of fellow players, affiliates, casino reps, and all sorts of other riff-raff.

Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free so please, join Casinomeister here!

Affiliate Union

Discussion in 'Affiliate Issues' started by ThePOGG, Mar 5, 2018.

    Mar 5, 2018
  1. ThePOGG

    ThePOGG Meister Member webmeister

    Occupation:
    Casino Affiliate
    Location:
    UK
    As promised, I'm now distributing a proposal for how I think an affiliate union of sorts may work. There are a couple of points I would stress before I go any further:

    i) This structure is not intended to appeal to everyone. In fact for this structure to work too many participants would be just as detrimental as too few. The concept behind this would be to gather 50-100 like-minded affiliates NOT to get thousands of affiliates to agree.

    ii) With the best will in the world I simply do not have time to debate whether or not people like the idea of a union. We have a major new tool launching imminently and with the UKGC's new advertising rules coming into place I'm buried helping operators adjust their promotions and ensuring our own content is compliant. I would ask anyone considering responding to ensure that if you're highlighting what you see as flaws in the system, to put forward constructive feedback in the form of potential work arounds. Let's try and keep this positive or let it fail through lack of interest if it's going to.

    iii) I have spoken to a number of people I have respect for before posting this. The response has encompassed the full spectrum, from those who stopped the conversation at sentence one because a union could never work to those who thought it sounded like a very workable idea with views in between as well. This post is NOT targeted at everyone. It's targeted at those who read through the idea and come away thinking 'this seems like a good idea'. If you don't have that warm fuzzy feeling at the end of this post then this project isn't for you. If not enough people think it's a good idea, I'm fine with that. I'd rather move on than try to convince people who are lukewarm of the merits as they are unlikely to ever be fully sold and if you don't buy-in intellectually the system breaks.




    Proposal

    There is one main issue that confronts affiliates time and time again when dealing with programs that simply decide to change the terms of their agreements - many affiliates are simply not in a financial position to attempt to challenge via the legal system actions taken by an affiliate program that are to their detriment and may not be legally sound. Court action can be very expensive and while there are some affiliates who have deep enough pockets to be comfortable dealing with the expenses themselves, most of us are not. Affiliate programs know this and selectively enforce detrimental changes, allowing the larger affiliates with more clout to do as they wish while ruthlessly altering the contracts of the smaller affiliates who they feel cannot viably pursue them.

    In my opinion smaller affiliates working together could address this issue. There are two fundamental barriers that have prevented this from ever happening:

    i) Historic efforts to put together a union have fallen at the first hurdle. In each case the union has suggested that 'we all agree not to work with certain programs'. Affiliates have vastly differing standards in what they consider a 'good' or 'bad' program. Even between sites with significant synergy there will be programs that differ in their standing. Simply put, most affiliates cannot allow someone else to dictate who they work with as this can have serious financial implications for the affiliate's business. Even if all members were to agree to this in principal, policing it would be effectively unmanageable.

    ii) Affiliate Unions are difficult to organise primarily because many affiliates would be put off by the idea of having to pay upfront fees to a body administered by someone else. Who should be trusted with this role? What are reasonable fees? How would it be decided what the fees are spent on. Affiliates tend to be entrepreneurial individuals that do not like being told what they can and can't do. The idea of signing up to a group where someone else gets to make the decisions does not appeal to many of us.

    Both of these issues are actually closely related - why would I hand over control of a significant area of MY business to someone who may not have our best interest at heart?


    Here's what I would suggest to address these issues.



    Basic outlines of the structure:

    - Each member would be assigned one vote.

    - At no point will the union dictate which programs any member can work with.

    - Any member can approach the union to request a review of an issue. The union would then prepare an overview of the key facts of the case, including what the affiliate feels is the problem and in which jurisdictions legal action could potentially be pursued. The overview would be distributed to all members. There are then multiple options, but each would require a vote. Before action would be taken, a majority of 55% of the membership would have to be in favour of it.

    Potential actions:

    i) The union membership would have a vote on issuing a public statement/press release asserting the position of the membership with regard to the actions of the program. Much like you see with petitions published in news papers, if 50-100 affiliates all publicly condemned the actions of the program it would create a lot of negative press and pressure on the program. Those in favour of action would be asked to publish a statement on their respective sites. If managed correctly there is the potential to create a 'link wheel' like structure between the published articles to ensure that the articles rank well and even give some SEO benefits to the participating members.

    If this type of action was pursued pre-publication legal review of any statement would have to be engaged. Expectations of cost for this would not be likely to exceed £500 (far less based on my own prior experience).

    ii) The union membership would be asked to vote on whether to move forward with taking legal advice on any legal action that could potentially be taken.

    If the majority (55%) are in favour of taking legal advice the union then looks to engage a legal firm in the relevant jurisdiction and undertake a review of the case. The cost for this would be split equally amongst all members. This means ALL members, not just those in favour. While it would be fine for an affiliate to decline to publish the press statement if it was critical of a program they worked closely with, funding any legal action has to be shared equally to avoid free rolling members who look to get the union membership to fund their actions, but opt-out any time another member would like the union to consider action.

    To this end each affiliate who wanted to join the union would have to sign a legally binding contract on behalf of their business when they join agreeing to fund their part of any legal action the union's membership decides to take.

    If the vote is to take legal advice on a case, once legal advice has been taken, the advice is then distributed to all members who are then asked again to vote on whether or not to pursue further action. Again if the majority are in favour of taking further action the costs would be split equally amongst all members.

    At each point where new information becomes available a new vote on any potential action has to be taken to ensure that the majority (55%) are still committed to moving forward.

    - To ensure that votes are conducted in a fair and transparent manner all members would be issued with a four digit 'membership number' that would be confidential and only known to them and the vote coordinator. At the conclusion of any vote a spreadsheet of all membership numbers alongside the direction of their vote would be distributed to all members. In this manner each member can confirm that their vote was counted correctly while no member would be able to identify another member's voting direction.



    ---------------------------------------------
     
  2. Mar 5, 2018
  3. ThePOGG

    ThePOGG Meister Member webmeister

    Occupation:
    Casino Affiliate
    Location:
    UK
    To me, the advantages of this system are clear – with 100 members the potential to deliver a widely distributed press release that would turn up regularly in the rankings highlighting the issues is a significant disincentive to any program considering making unfair changes in the first instance.

    If a case was serious enough to warrant taking legal action (imo Affiliate Edge would have been worth at least engaging legal advice for), even if case cost an outrageous amount of £200k, every member would only be liable to pay £2k. The larger the number of participants the smaller the individual contributions would be.

    Yes it is likely that we would all end up contributing to cases that don’t impact us from time to time, but this approach would make members of the union a far more dangerous target for programs to implement arbitrary contract change tactics against. Most cases aren’t going to come to anywhere near £100k. If Dave had taken legal representation and lost in this manner, with 100 members it’s unlikely the bill would have come to £300 each and I’m sure most of us would have thought that small price to pay to challenge this type of blanket ‘we can change anything at any time’ term. The upside if the case had been won would have been huge for all affiliates.

    There will unquestionably be affiliates who decide not to honour their commitment when a call is issued to contribute to legal fees. The union can take a separate vote on whether to pursue such breaches of contract via the court system or simply revoke the membership of said affiliates.

    I’d also suggest that it might be worthwhile to have a small monthly membership fee (€5-10) that could be collected as a ‘war chest’ in case the union approves action on an issue. In this manner there would already be a bank to draw down on before anyone is asked for extra. It also means that all members have some degree of stake in the enterprise meaning active participation is more likely.

    And this is the point where I’d throw the idea open for discussion – who can see problems? I would like to keep this positive so if you’re going to criticise I’d appreciate it if you could suggest potential solutions you see.

    If you are interested in participating I would ask you to email me at This email is not visible to you.. If, by the end of March, we have 50+ affiliates all interested in participating then I'll contact all interested parties about moving forward. If there are less than 50 I'd suggest we're too small to be effective.

    If you do like this idea, please spread the word to other affiliates. I have limited reach with affiliates at the present time and the more affiliates who read this the greater the chance of finding enough affiliates that think it's a good idea.

    TP
     
  4. Mar 6, 2018
  5. maxd

    maxd Complaints (PAB) Manager Staff Member

    Occupation:
    The PAB Guy
    Location:
    Saltirelandia
    Speaking for myself and only myself (ie. not Casinomeister because I'm not at liberty to do that) I'd say "looks great!" And good on you for taking the initiative.
     
    Webzcas and ThePOGG like this.
  6. Mar 6, 2018
  7. maxd

    maxd Complaints (PAB) Manager Staff Member

    Occupation:
    The PAB Guy
    Location:
    Saltirelandia
    Of course now that I've been kicking this around for the last 20 minutes I have a question or two. Let's kick off with this:

    What's the plan for handling "union busting" efforts by the casinos? I can easily imagine the following conversation:
    Of course shit like that is illegal in a good many places but does our Fine Young Affiliate want to start out trying to bring a case against XYZ for it? I don't think so. So what might be the plan here?
     
    dunover likes this.
  8. Mar 6, 2018
  9. Simmo!

    Simmo! Moderator Staff Member

    Occupation:
    Web Dev.
    Location:
    England
    Really well presented if I may say so.

    I'd add in one thing just to mull over: is it a good idea using the term "union" a) because of how many perceive the term and b) because in regulated markets, operators are going to be much more careful about which affiliates they work with... anything that creates a sense of "them and us" might best be avoided in the new world, even if done with the best of intentions.
     
    dunover and ThePOGG like this.
  10. Mar 6, 2018
  11. ThePOGG

    ThePOGG Meister Member webmeister

    Occupation:
    Casino Affiliate
    Location:
    UK
    Can't see the quote button right now. Must be having a blonde moment.

    With regard to union busting - there are two aspects to this. Firstly the FYA is not at that stage under any obligation to sign any deal with Casino XYZ. If the program included that term and FYA was not aware of it then the program would have to be actively intent on pursuing the affiliate via the courts to make this even vaguely threatening. My intention would also be to include a membership list. This serves the duel purpose of firstly making a clear statement to the industry the scope and extent of the membership (alongside providing a link to members) and secondly, if Casino XYZ was to specifically solicit a member of said union, knowing that they'd written terms to prohibit membership of such a group I think there would be a rather strong argument they've engaged in entrapment. The FYA wouldn't necessarily have to take any action against the program as they're not involved with the program yet.

    The second effort on this front would involve my efforts for POGGWebmasters. I review aff program terms and conditions regularly. We're currently in the process of putting together a tool specifically to keep an eye on terms pages. I personally would be inclined to bring to the collective any program we found including such a term for consideration of a press release due to unethical behaviour. If programs start getting rough treatment for trying that sort of strategy I can't see it proliferating and the only point where this would become seriously problematic is if large numbers of programs started including this type of term.

    I'd also add that all of these efforts are really geared towards mid-level affiliates. Big affiliates will take care of themselves. Small affiliates, as much as they deserve protection, probably aren't in a position to afford even 1% of legal bills associated with any actions. With 100 mid-level affiliates participating, how many programs are going to want to put in place terms that would immediately alienate them from that many mid-sized affiliates?

    TP
     
    Simmo! likes this.
  12. Mar 6, 2018
  13. dunover

    dunover Unofficial T&C's Editor Staff Member CAG PABnononaccred PABnonaccred PABinit mm3 webmeister

    Occupation:
    International Money Launderer
    Location:
    the bus shelter, opposite GCHQ Benhall
    Yes, the idea is sound but as said some affiliate programmes may be highly suspicious and view it as some kind of collective bargaining tool, even though it isn't. Then there's the prospect of programmes believing the members are all aware of each others' specific deals with that group and using that as a battering ram. The membership being obligated to contribute money to legal cases (as the POGG inferred, to fights those members maybe don't have a dog in) will create issues.

    Bear in mind also that many programmes will have no assets in the UK or even the EU so will be nearly impossible to fight in that way.

    The idea is sound but maybe more of a focus group, a collective voice only which is funded by a small subscription and gains respect due to the weight of its membership rather than the cudgel of legal funds - although as we've seen unfortunately cases do arise whereby people believe that's justified.
     
    Nicola and ThePOGG like this.
  14. Mar 6, 2018
  15. ThePOGG

    ThePOGG Meister Member webmeister

    Occupation:
    Casino Affiliate
    Location:
    UK
    "Union" - I'm not fixed on the term. Personally I'm very much of a socialist bent so I have strong positive associations with the word. But I realise not everyone feels that way. My thoughts on this are fairly simplistic though - can you provide another term that will make the nature of this organisation immediately recognisable for what it is?

    I'm entirely open to suggestions on this front, so please don't take the above as an effort to shut that line of questioning down.

    As to the 'us and them' mentality, I'm afraid years of operator acting in unethical fashions has already create that sentiment. Imo most affiliates already feel like that. And the only operators that should feel threatened by the creation of such a group would be those that actively see changing their contract to reduce how much they pay their affiliates as a right. The good programs out there - and there are plenty of them that have not done this and have no intention of doing so in the future - are unlikely to ever have any contact with such a collective.

    TP
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2018
    Nicola and Simmo! like this.
  16. Mar 6, 2018
  17. ThePOGG

    ThePOGG Meister Member webmeister

    Occupation:
    Casino Affiliate
    Location:
    UK
    Found the quote button again!

    1) This model is not intended to gain mass participation - too many members would make coordination of voting challenging, gathering of contributions a nightmare and gaining any majority consensus on action next to impossible. The idea here isn't to 'bring all affiliates in', it's to gather a reasonable number of reasonably sized affiliates who share a perspective and see the benefits of this approach. There will be issue with a few members who decide after the fact that they don't want to contribute any longer. That would be a fact of life that had to be lived with. Those members would be dropped from membership to make room for those that are happy to respect the democratic will of the group.

    2) The major strength of this model is not the threat of legal action. That's a nice extra in cases of an extremely serious nature. The major strength of the model is in the press releases. This costs next to nothing but creates huge pressure in of itself. I can think of one program that only last week announced that they will be adding NCO. We'll be dropping them due to this action. Doesn't cost us much to do so in this situation and I really do not like programs that think that changing the contract in this manner is acceptable. I entirely understand that some of their affiliates will have their hands tied - they will not be able to afford to drop them. This system gives those affiliates with too much to lose the 'opt-out' for having to say anything negative about the program, whilst the rest of the membership posts about the issue. How many -ve articles have to be posted before the program starts to sweat? And how much more impact would our statement on this programs policy changes have had if it had also been mirrored by 30, 40, 50 or more other affiliate sites?

    TP
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2018
    Nicola likes this.
  18. Mar 6, 2018
  19. Simmo!

    Simmo! Moderator Staff Member

    Occupation:
    Web Dev.
    Location:
    England
    I'd consider terms like Collective or Association to have more positive connotations myself. You're right about "them and us" although I see that as the forum mentality, not the general rule.

    Now this is not a criticism or anything more than just some insight into another perspective: as a mid-size affiliate previously, I tended not to see it like that: I saw it as one business doing what is right for their business and my challenge was to adapt, change or persuade them to see my side. I spread my risk so that when these things happened, they had minimal impact because I expected them to happen. Business models change, people change, management changes, industry changes, financial pressures change...the world evolves and nothing stays the same for ever so you have to change with it.

    I think there is real value in what you are proposing and I believe it can be achieved if the mentality of the group as a whole is positive and recognises that business is a two-way street, so rather than just work to find solutions that suit an affiliate, they work to propose solutions that suit both sides, with or without compromises.
     
    Nicola and ThePOGG like this.
  20. Mar 6, 2018
  21. ThePOGG

    ThePOGG Meister Member webmeister

    Occupation:
    Casino Affiliate
    Location:
    UK
    I've been using the word 'collective' a lot myself while discussing this issue. If that's what people wanted that's what we'd go with.

    I agree with you on this front. To a degree. There are clear and basic justifications for programs having to change their contract. For example, with the implementation of the UKGC license operators were exposed to a new and significant tax. There's absolutely sound reason to have to adjust affiliate contracts to adjust for this. Personally I have absolutely no problem what-so-ever with this type of change and reasonableness has to be pursued in the face of such changes. However, where a program simply decides that they are adding in NCO, or a Minimum Activity Quota, this isn't a situation where the program has to do anything. In fact, this is a situation where the program has actively engaged in misleading advertisement. They've brought affiliates on board with promises of 'No NCO' or 'lifetime revenue on referrals' and after the affiliate fulfils their end of the deal and provides traffic the program then decided they don't want to hold up their end. If a business choose to do that they absolutely should be singled out for their poor practices. Imagine if I signed a 12 month contract for £15/month for my mobile phone and a month into the contract and the provider contacted me as said 'you remain tied to our contract, but we've decided you're not paying enough so it's now going to cost you £30' - that would never be deemed acceptable practice by any objective observer. For some programs this type of strategy is considered both acceptable and strategically sound.

    And again I'd agree with this. Affiliates have to realise that this cannot be a militant organisation that will quibble over every change to contract without regard for how the regulatory environment is changing and how the business necessarily HAS to change. But it should be there to represent affiliates when programs are simply engaging in a cash grab by reneging on paying affiliates revenue they'd committed to paying to secure the affiliate's traffic.

    TP
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2018
    Nicola and Simmo! like this.
  22. Mar 6, 2018
  23. Simmo!

    Simmo! Moderator Staff Member

    Occupation:
    Web Dev.
    Location:
    England
    Oh incidentally and just as an aside on the subject of compliance, although as we all know the UKGC holds operators responsible for their affiliates, the ICO and ASA don't and will be fining affiliates directly in the near future. It won't be for stuff like an old bonus or missing T&C's, more for deliberately misleading advertising practices but I mention it because it could destroy the trust between that affiliate and the programs and if that affiliate is in your collective, it could have a knock-on effect. Just might be something that should be considered in the T&Cs of the collective's agreements, especially if the affiliates are contributing financially.
     
    Nicola, dunover and ThePOGG like this.
  24. Mar 6, 2018
  25. ThePOGG

    ThePOGG Meister Member webmeister

    Occupation:
    Casino Affiliate
    Location:
    UK
    I spoke to several programs about this in London - the ASA will start fining affiliates in the near future. It's going to happen and it's going to come as a huge shock to many affiliates.

    Sadly I actually think some affiliates need this......

    TP
     
  26. Mar 6, 2018
  27. dunover

    dunover Unofficial T&C's Editor Staff Member CAG PABnononaccred PABnonaccred PABinit mm3 webmeister

    Occupation:
    International Money Launderer
    Location:
    the bus shelter, opposite GCHQ Benhall
    You've never been a Virgin Media customer then?

    On a more serious note, fining affiliates may be justified as some are plain dishonest and use scandalous claims and false news etc. despite the clampdowns. This is why I just stick to the scripts provided by the affiliate programmes, only using their links and media.
     
    Nicola and ThePOGG like this.
  28. Mar 6, 2018
  29. Simmo!

    Simmo! Moderator Staff Member

    Occupation:
    Web Dev.
    Location:
    England
    They totally do - in fact, it's in other affiliates best interests too. I only mention it because it could be a problem if said affiliate is a member of a collective who are trying to convince operators of their professionalism. It just needs a procedure to deal with it if it happens, that's all really.
     
    Nicola and ThePOGG like this.
  30. Mar 7, 2018
  31. Nicola

    Nicola Casino Affiliate MM mm1 webmeister

    Occupation:
    Web Developer
    Location:
    Green Park, London
    Personally, I welcome this and if managed well the 'Collective' would provide an extra safeguard for established affiliates. There are a couple of points I would like to throw out there :)

    1. Would the 'Collective' only welcome UK and / or European affiliates? As laws differ country to country and 'Brexit' underway I see lots of issues arising if cases are taken on from countries where there are inadequacies in Gambling law.

    2. A monthly member fee. Good idea, but €5-10 I feel would be inadequate. If this was made to €50 a month it would appeal to established affiliates more - a better, knowledgeable 'Collective' and afterall, I'm not aware of many mid-sized affiliates that make less than €2000+ a month.

    3. If a fee of €50 a month was in place, this money could be placed in a high-interest bank account (yes they still exist 2.5%-5.0%) and would overtime grow and if funds were required for legal reasons it would be a lot easier taking it from here than asking €2k up front from each member of the 'Collective' Of course, if a member leaves they are entitled to their money back.

    4. Whether the 'Collective' is 50 or 100 members strong there would need to be strict guidelines on who is apart of it. IMO each affiliate would have to adhere to rules on what operators they do business with and follow marketing regulations etc. If they don't, they will not be accepted or kicked out. Simple as.

    5. There would be operational costs to run a 'Collective' of this size so all members would also have to contribute. Maybe a joining fee?
     
    ThePOGG likes this.
  32. Mar 7, 2018
  33. neilw

    neilw Moderator of Live Games forum CAG MM webmeister

    Occupation:
    Moderator of Live Games forum
    Location:
    Kent - England
    Could you clarify something for me please.

    After reading the OP initial post I counted myself as someone that wouldn't want to get involved in a "Union". The term itself sends shivers down my spine!

    From the way I interpreted the OP it looked very much like the "Union" would only react when something bad happens. There doesn't seem to be anything Proactive about the group, or am I missing something?
     
    ThePOGG likes this.
  34. Mar 7, 2018
  35. ThePOGG

    ThePOGG Meister Member webmeister

    Occupation:
    Casino Affiliate
    Location:
    UK
    I don't see a need to restrict the location of the member. It's the location of the program that matters for legal challenges. It's normal for the defending party's location to be the jurisdiction to hear the case, though that's not always the case.

    The membership fee is something that is very much open for discussion as far as I'm concerned. My intention is a) not to put people off with higher fees and b) to have some fee to ensure that members are actually active. What we don't want is to send out voting requests and see a 20% return rate with 80% not engaging. At that point any action becomes moot due to the lack of participation.

    My concern with this is that you start to enter into 'company' territory and accounting and taxation become an issue. As long as no profit is derived this issue is avoided.

    While I think Simmo has a point regarding members being required to follow marketing regulations (none of us want to be associated with affiliate advertising gambling to under agers or as a way of getting out of debt), stipulating which programs members can work with simply won't work. Even between ThePOGG and CasinoMeister, who have huge synergy, there are programs we view very differently. If one of us drew a line in the sand round one of those programs the other could not participate. Any successful organisation would have to expect the members to meet acceptable marketing standards, but could not dictate which programs members could work with. That's where every other effort at forming any form of collective action has failed.

    With regard to operational costs - and this is something I haven't really touched on yet - I'd be happy for ThePOGG to cover setting up a website and helping get the structures in place to get everyone working together. After that though I would prefer to see responsibilities rotate via either a core group of members or through the whole membership, with each member taking on certain responsibilities for a month before passing them on. In this way power isn't seen to reside with one person, which has historically been another point of contention when these discussions have come up.

    TP
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2018
    Nicola likes this.
  36. Mar 7, 2018
  37. ThePOGG

    ThePOGG Meister Member webmeister

    Occupation:
    Casino Affiliate
    Location:
    UK
    You're not missing anything. The function of this group would be to respond/protect affiliates when programs decide to do something unethical, not to try and negotiate deals for members or in any way interfere with the members personal and private business.

    TP
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2018
    neilw likes this.
  38. Mar 15, 2018
  39. ThePOGG

    ThePOGG Meister Member webmeister

    Occupation:
    Casino Affiliate
    Location:
    UK
    This conversation seems to have petered out, as such I'd like to get it moving again.

    At this stage it would be great to firm up numbers of who would be interested in taking part in this type of organisation, so if you would be interested can you please provide an email address that you can be contacted on. I will be doing some press related to this endeavour over this next few days so hopefully we can get enough like minded affiliates together to achieve something worthwhile.

    On a related note, we've just published an article on the recent changes that Genting Affiliates have made to their contract. You can read it You must register/login in order to see the link.. This is exactly the type of issue where this type of collective could have made a difference. Imagine how much more effective this type of post would be if it had been complimented by dozens of other affiliates posting similar articles.....

    TP
     

Share This Page