Ever since that landmark day in May 2018 the United States has captured the imagination of many, if not most, across the industry, with Intress Media not averse to following suit in a bid to “maximise player safety” and build “safe, true” communities.

The Las Vegas headquartered affiliate marketing firm has been making waves during recent weeks with a flurry of approval and subsequent go-live dates, with, unlike the stance taken by many across the industry, online casino forming the sole focus.

Empowerment has formed a key message expressed during a recent licensing push that has secured entry into a key trifecta of igaming jurisdictions, something which Co-Founder Maryna Sokirko expressed should be at the forefront for counterparts in the space.

“It should be the role of every self-respecting affiliate to empower and support their customers by providing them with the information to make responsible and informed choices when they gamble,” Sokirko began after being quizzed on a previously expressed company mission to empower customers.

“That’s not only an ethical standpoint, it’s a long-term business standpoint too. Any affiliate that wants to succeed in the US regulated markets must operate at the highest levels of social responsibility. And to succeed in this space you must offer content that’s more useful and insightful than your competitors. 

“For example, not only are our reviews completely trustworthy and without commercial bias, but we also want to bridge the gap between brands and consumers by connecting players with casino reps, for example. We take our responsibility as an intermediary very seriously, and I think that helps make customers feel as safe and secure as possible.”    

“While each jurisdiction is different, licensing in New Jersey … can ease the process of applying for licensing in other states”

Thus far, Intress Media has gained licensing approval for three key US igaming regions, with the well trodden path of New Jersey, via iGamingNJ.com, forming the starting point for a future charge across the country and, potentially, beyond.

This was followed with Michigan (iGamingMI) and Pennsylvania (iGamingPA), a jurisdiction that Sokirko highlighted as “very important” due to a position as “the largest state by population so far that has regulated online casino gaming”.

She continued: “New Jersey came first and that felt good, because the gaming market there is regulated to the absolute highest standards and the regulators saw we could bring something of value to the market. 

“While each jurisdiction is different, licensing in New Jersey, first and foremost, can ease the process of applying for licensing in other states because you’ve already ticked a lot of boxes. 

“But of course, this ties into our mission to support and empower consumers. Licensing adds a layer of reassurance for customers because we will only collaborate with casinos regulated by the jurisdiction in which we operate, and we will only recommend licensed casinos to our customers.”

Moving forward with an ambition of creating a network of “ highly localised igaming portals” across legalised states, West Virginia is cited as “the obvious next step”.

However, Sokirko is eager to point out that ongoing legislative efforts regarding igaming are being monitored, with the group “remaining reactive and flexible” to act if and when necessary.

Alongside its established goals, Intress, which counts clients such as Kindred, Rush Street Interactive and BetMGM, has suggested that US affiliate projects lack “advanced user-engaging techniques”.

“Would you book a hotel without first reading a review on TripAdvisor?”

Citing the relatively young status of the market, Sokirko believes that there’s plenty of room for development across the space and that igaming is lacking in taking influences from successful strategies deployed in other industries.

“But there are certainly things I believe affiliates are not doing at the moment. And I’m not talking about reinventing the wheel,” she said. 

“I’m talking about techniques that have worked well in other sectors. We live in a world of heightened digital connectivity with information at our fingertips.” 

Here, Sokirko poses the question “would you book a hotel without first reading a review on TripAdvisor?” Before asking why the online casino segment should be any different when it comes drawing on the experiences of fellow participants.

“Sure, it’s our job to arm our readers with information, but we also believe user-generated reviews are crucial to building trust and creating heightened engagement between consumers and brands,” it is noted.

To conclude, Sokirko addresses an ultimate goal of “building a true, safe community of gamblers,” something which “all boils down to connectivity,” whether that be via users to brands or each other.

This ability to help players gain “a more truthful understanding” of the regulated gaming space is what, Sokirko confidently ended, “will take it to the next level”.