Mustard Digital‘s Allan Turner says affiliate compliance should be a key consideration for operators in the newly regulated Swedish market.

The recently re-regulated Swedish online casino market is presenting operators with several challenges when it comes to marketing to players.

The rules state that messaging must be “moderate” and responsible, and already we have seen brands fall foul of these guidelines.

For operators, it is important they monitor their affiliate partners for compliance”

Additional challenges come from not being able to offer players on-going bonuses to incentivise them to keep playing, or to reward customers for their loyalty.

This is impacting affiliates particularly hard, as content is often created around the various offers and promotions being run by operators.

Affiliates are an innovative and savvy bunch, and already we are seeing publishers adapt to and capitalise on the rules of engagement in Sweden.

For operators, it is important they monitor their affiliate partners for compliance – just as in the UK, in Sweden they are ultimately responsible for the content they create on their behalf.

But how can operators do this?

Option one is to review affiliate sites manually, to ensure the content they are creating around their brand is compliant.

This includes checking all mentions of the brand in news stories, features, interviews and casino reviews.

Of course, this is hugely time consuming and, in reality, it is almost impossible to regularly monitor all of the affiliate sites linking to an operator’s brand(s).

Option two is to use coercion tactics and levy penalties on non-compliant affiliates. Taking this a step further, operators could even remove them from their programme.

“Operators have diverted significant resources towards building out a dedicated compliance team”

The third option is to use an automated compliance platform, such as Rightlander, in collaboration with their affiliate partners to ensure compliance.

This can be done on a market specific basis such as in Sweden, or it can be rolled out across all the markets where the affiliate targets traffic and promotes the operator.

Automated compliance platforms do much of the heavy lifting.

Rightlander, for example, scans any website and builds a list of all the locations where an operator’s brands are mentioned or linked to.

It follows each link to its final destination on the website, takes a screenshot and stores it in a personalised library.

This helps operators discover affiliate websites linking to their brands, including those they are not currently unaware of.

The Swedish market is currently made up of licensed operators from established markets such as the UK, as well as new entrants from the Nordics.

“Operators have also changed the way they budget for compliance”

In recent months, the former have really had to improve their affiliate compliance efforts amid a serious clampdown by the UK regulator.

Indeed, there are lessons that can be learnt from how these operators have changed their approach to compliance and responsible marketing.

The first thing many have done is to change their mindset towards affiliate compliance.

While it was once viewed as an activity that was done part-time by an affiliate manager, it’s now a must-have part of their customer acquisition process.

With this in mind, operators have diverted significant resources towards building out a dedicated compliance team made up of compliance experts and top talent.

As a part of this, operators have also changed the way they budget for compliance. In the past, funds would have come from the marketing budget.

Now, however, compliance is seen as a separate cost centre that needs to be properly funded in order to ensure the integrity of the brand in regulated markets around the world.

“Non-compliance is simply not an option”

This same approach must be taken in Sweden.

In all likelihood, compliance will not be a top priority in the early days, as operators fight to establish themselves as market leaders.

But the fact that the Swedish Gambling Commission is already penalising some brands over the adverts they are running, proves it is taking marketing compliance seriously.

The operators that push compliance to the top of their to-do lists, will undoubtedly set themselves up for a long and successful future in Sweden.

If they don’t, they run the risk of incurring penalties and big fines plus the reputational damage this can bring.

When it comes to it, in order to run a gambling business in 2019 in a regulated market, operators have to be compliant to the letter and spirit of the law.

Non-compliance is simply not an option.