Martyn Hannah, Managing Director of online casino comparison site, Comparasino, talks about the UK market and why despite some red flags, he believes it is still one of the most important
Over the past few years, the UK market has experienced an exodus when it comes to the online casino brands available to players. The same is true of the companies behind some of the larger comparison sites, whose attention has turned to the North American market among others.
There are several reasons for this.
For operators, the uncertainty that came from the long-delayed government white paper, combined with the Gambling Commission handing out record fines and margins becoming increasingly squeezed, made the market unviable.
The scale of the operator exodus has been significant.
When we launched our first casino comparison site back in 2018, we had partnerships in place with operators including ComeOn, Genesis Global, bgo and Mansion Group. When we launched our latest online casino comparison site, Comparasino, last month, none of these operators were listed.
With fewer brands to promote, their own cost of doing business continuing to rise and the steep increase in competition, some of the bigger affiliates pivoted their attention on what were seen to be more lucrative markets (at least at the time) across the pond.
Throw into the mix the commercial agreements that UK brands were offering compared to those in the US (in the latter, CPA agreements can hit $500 or more) and it’s easy to see why the UK market might not make good business sense.
This has had a significant, negative impact on online casino players in the UK. Not only have there been fewer brands to play at but there have been fewer trusted comparison sites to use to find online casinos and bonuses.
This could act as a big red flag for any operator or affiliate considering making a play in the UK market. But times are changing – the government white paper has been published and with its contents digested and understood, there seems to be a renewed sense of optimism.
What’s more, player appetite for online casino is still strong and consumers absolutely want to be able to browse and compare online casinos and bonus offers. This means there’s plenty of opportunity on the table for both operators and affiliates to explore.
This change in mood can be seen in new online casino brands hitting the market for the first time in many months. This includes Winlandia which made its UK debut back in October.
We actually see the exodus of online casino comparison sites as something of an opportunity. By coming in with a fresh brand and a product and experience that adds real value to a player’s search for online casinos, we believe we can claim significant market share against less competition.
But this still requires taking a different approach.
The game has changed over the past few years, and now more than ever online casino players are savvy when it comes to the brands they play at and also the commercial agreements between these brands and comparison sites.
That is why we don’t tell players where to play. It’s our belief that they can see through “reviews” and lists of the “best online casinos” – the vast majority know that brands are positioned and promoted based entirely on the commercial agreement between affiliate and operator.
If you look outside of the online casino industry, brands go to great lengths to connect with their audience and to be truly honest and transparent with them, but this is not something we have really seen in the online casino comparison space.
This is why we put the power in the hands of the player. They tell us what they look for in a casino based on several key factors and then our smart recommendation generates a list of matching brands in seconds. This approach allows us to better serve players and build trust.
Of course, it’s all well and good having a nice brand, a great product and a seamless user experience, but if players don’t know you exist then there’s not much point in any of these things.
Traditionally, online casino comparison sites have used SEO as their battleground, and while this is a key part of the marketing strategy for Comparasino, we also know it’s an area where we will struggle to compete with our more established and resource-rich rivals.
Combine this with the volatility of SEO – a slight algorithm change can lead to a drop in rankings that can cause serious damage to small affiliates and their business – and it’s clear that other more reliable marketing channels need to be used to drive engagement and brand awareness.
This is why we are looking to engage players across a wide range of touchpoints from digital marketing and PR to paid media and out-of-home. This is a space where affiliates have yet to come out and play, and one where we can get the jump on the competition.
It helps that we are a UK business run by people who are based in the UK. A lot of operators and indeed affiliates are based overseas, and this leads to a bit of a cultural disconnect between their brands and players.
We get this culture as we are a part of it and have a deep understanding of the marketing channels that work in the UK and how even as a small business, we can use platforms and tactics that have previously been considered out of reach.
The UK market may have been through a difficult patch with some operators and affiliates looking for opportunities elsewhere. But this has opened up the market to new players, and Comparasino is proud to make its debut in the UK and to be helping players find online casinos that hit their jackpot.
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