The gambling world is moving on and developing, eventually trying to take casinos under legislative control. In fact, gambling and betting have always been heavily restricted. However, developers still discover ways to promote their slots within the legal framework, thanks to advertising accounts, statistics & analytics services, and legislative approval.
But where do you come in, my fellow affiliate? Well, this explanation is about to drop.
Gambling Ads at Work
A new trend is spreading at a breakneck speed, but it is still hard to say what it brings along.
In essence, more and more countries are taking gambling and betting under legislative control, creating a pile of new policies for affiliate marketers to acknowledge. While regulations differ, webs find it difficult to adapt to the new reality: this is just another stack of things to note, write down, and keep in mind. See for yourself: previously, affiliates only had to stick to the rules of the platform; now, they are supposed to follow these rules while observing other laws to the letter. You're probably wondering if you could avoid that. Sure, no problem. But in this case, your ad will be permanently deleted, and you, as an affiliate marketer, will bear the financial and legal liability for the misdemeanor.
In some countries, the situation is even more dire: for example, in China and Mauritania, gambling and betting are banned, so you may be charged with a felony for posting a gambling ad. Crazy, right? Still, dura lex, sed lex: inspect the laws and be careful. Legal issues may be fun to watch, but in reality, it's a bunch of baloney that can cost you dearly.
No Dice for Apple
A little rewind to see where it started.
On October 25, 2022, Apple announced that new ad placements were available for those willing to pay a certain fee. These in-app ads were tailored for the user based on their interests and preferences. Alas, something went wrong: as soon as the update was released, developers immediately started filing complaints en masse. Why? The answer is simple. Apple refused to filter the topics for advertising campaigns, so a calorie counting app could show a bookmaker's ad, a game for kids unfolded a slot ad, and gambling addiction management trackers kindly offered to install a casino. The softest word to characterize that policy (or lack thereof) would be 'inappropriate.'
Shocked by the number of complaints, Apple reacted immediately. While they could draw up a list of filters, hire moderators, fiddle with the age restriction settings, the company chose the most obvious, if pathetic, way: they halted gambling ads completely. No advertising, no problem.
In a statement shared with MacRumors, Apple said it has paused gambling ads in App Store app pages, with no further details provided:
We have paused ads related to gambling and a few other categories on App Store product pages.
However, the nature of those 'few other categories' remained unclear. Even more so, not a word was uttered regarding gambling app promotion. The policy states that some countries (for example, China, Turkey, and Indonesia) cannot post gambling ads due to the local legislature. Still, there's no restriction concerning the target audience of the gambling app.
As expected, no groundswell followed: instead, it was another step to activate hate mode. The gambling companies and developers that bought ad placements legally and did not breach the law simply got ripped off. The ensuing campaign was also impossible, so potential leads couldn't be gained either.
While the whole idea doesn't seem particularly intimidating, it's always important to forecast possible events and consequences. And that's what comes to mind.
Obviously, the advertising campaign regulation in Apple products will become even tougher. Each ad must comply with local laws, platform requirements, and responsible gambling principles.
Ads are to be shown to people over 18 years of age. In some situations, soft advertising is expected to come into play: aggressive slogans, slot and card demonstrations may be considered inappropriate.
Even if you obey and follow the rules to the letter, you aren't immune to bans. There is no code you could consult in order to avoid failure.
The complications listed above are bad enough by themselves, but what can scare you the most is the precedent this event establishes. Apple can ban all they want for as long as they want, but we do not know whether other companies are driven to follow suit and do the same, prohibiting gambling ads. Even if the advertiser complies with the idea of responsible gambling and behaves like a saint goody-two-shoes who's never committed a sin in their entire life, there's no guarantee that the platform shares the opinion as gambling is still liable to social condemnation. Thus, problems can be expected in any GEO with any approach.
As an affiliate marketer, you should scrutinize the Responsible Gambling section as it is gaining more and more prominence and becomes crucial for moderation processes. So if you fail to meet the requirements, the platform you've chosen can easily turn you down. What's worse, these rules can grow even stricter.
Up to this day, gambling remains a 'gray' niche in affiliate marketing, so the requirements will be volatile 'till the vertical gets whitewashed. Unfortunately, it leaves much to be desired: 2022 was abrim with complications in all spheres, and this was not an exception. Let's hope 2023 will be a friendlier chap! Good luck!