Last month, Bojoko asserted an aim of becoming “the first globally recognised affiliate brand” amid the roll-out of a company reshuffle as the group targets its next stage of evolution.

This saw Joonas Karhu step up to the role of CEO, where he gained responsibility for strategy development, execution, and growth plans as well as overseeing resources and development, with Toni Halonen transitioning into the newly-created role of chief product officer.

Following these moves, CasinoBeats caught up Karhu to get the lowdown on its aforementioned aims, key factors for users in deciding where to play, and recommendations for bringing more unity to operators and affiliates.

CasinoBeats: Earlier this month you were named CEO as part of a company reshuffle, how will you help drive Bojoko towards its goal of “becoming the first globally recognised affiliate brand?”

Joonas Karhu: Our mission from day one has been to make Bojoko the first globally recognised online gambling affiliate brand. Toni has done a great job of building momentum behind reaching this goal and I am really excited by the opportunity to take over from him and take our activity to the next level.

The business has been profitable since its first year and we are now in a financially strong position to go after this goal and invest heavily in the broadscale marketing activity that is required to build an international brand. 

“The US market will be a big focus for us this year and into 2022”

The team behind Bojoko is the best in the business; it has a proven track record of building market leading products. This will be combined with driving growth through what are simple activities – expanding into new markets, launching new gambling verticals and investing heavily in advertising. 

CB: What can we expect from the company during the remainder of the year and beyond? Which key regions are you targeting for growth?

JK: The US market will be a big focus for us this year and into 2022. We are already live in New Jersey and are currently applying for a licence in Pennsylvania. Ultimately, we plan to be in every single US state that offers legal online sports betting and casino, but we also want to take a considered approach to the market.

We will only enter a state once we have the necessary approvals but also once we have the right people on board to spearhead our efforts in that state. Our commitment to the US market can be seen in the decision to create a separate US corporation and our plans to open an office in Florida. 

Outside of the US market, we will continue to invest in our UK offering. This includes adding more features and tools, improving the user experience for our 30,000+ members as well as ramping up our advertising efforts in the country.

Earlier in the year we launched Bojoko sports in Finland; this is performing well, and we will look to roll out a sports betting product in all the markets we target. As with casino, we are looking to set the standard for others to follow. 

This includes offering a comprehensive selection of betting tips each day which bettors can access for free, as well as a powerful odds comparison engine. This engine compares odds for each bet a player would like to place and then collates the best odds in the market from the most trusted and safe online sportsbooks listed on Bojoko.

“This is something that no one else in the industry is doing”

Not only that, but we have created a selection of tools that allow bettors to filter online sportsbooks based on their own preferences making it easy for them to search and select the best brands for them. 

CB: What do you believe are the key factors for players when deciding which casinos to play?

JK: I think they want to understand what experience the casino will offer before they sign up and play, and the best way they can do this is by reading ratings and feedback from other players.

This is what we have built the Bojoko concept around; just like on TripAdvisor with hotels and restaurants, our members rate and review the online casinos and sportsbooks that are listed on Bojoko so that other players know what to expect before they sign up and play.

We complement this with scores and feedback from a team of independent online casino and sportsbook testers. They put each site through its paces and report back on key areas such as withdrawal times. This provides a double layer – our members can read reviews from fellow players as well as online casino and sportsbook experts.

This is something that no one else in the industry is doing as it can negatively impact commercials as we don’t push one casino brand over the other simply because they offer us a better deal. 

In mature markets such as the UK and Sweden it is becoming increasingly important that gambling brands undertake broadscale advertising. It is no longer enough to have affiliates as your only source of traffic.

“The biggest area for improvement is around contractual security”

Many operators seem to think that player value and loyalty comes from the quality of the traffic source, but as we know from empirical law in marketing known as double jeopardy, player value and loyalty follow market share. So, the more market share you have, the more loyal your players are. 

CB: What recommendations would you have for how operators and affiliates can work more closely together?

JK: The biggest area for improvement is around contractual security and the contractual framework under which operators and affiliates work. In most cases, affiliates are subject to one-sided agreements with predatory terms which for some unknown reason have become the standard in the industry.

If you look at other sectors and similar B2B agreements between two parties, this is simply not the case and more needs to be done in the gambling industry to drive change. 

In my view, some of the terms that operators have in their contracts/agreements should be illegal as they put jobs at great risk. This is because the lack of contractual security means affiliates can lose income streams in an instant – in some cases, operators can close an affiliate’s account and take the players they have sent – which in turn puts the business and those employed by it at risk. I would also invite operators to see if good marketing practises are followed when it comes to promoting their affiliate programs. 

Affiliates are expected to meet the highest possible standards when it comes to the marketing practices they undertake, but the same can’t always be said for operators and the ways in which they engage with affiliate partners.

If these two hurdles can be overcome, I think the relationship between operators and affiliates will be greatly improved and this is something that will be of huge benefit to both parties.