Have UK bookmakers taken affiliate marketing too far?

The BBC has put the spotlight on online sports betting sites, uncovering an affiliate scheme incentivising tipsters to bring them losing bets.

The article, published yesterday, explains how these ‘professional punters’, often with enormous social media followings, receive as much as 30% of their followers’ losses in profits from the bookmakers they promote. Whilst I would always caution against anything that’s offered for free, especially when it comes to making money, it begs the question; have these brands taken their affiliate marketing too far?

photo credit: nathan shively

I’m sure, somewhere in the deep, dark corners of their terms and conditions, it makes mention of these arrangements, but I can only imagine how many unsuspecting followers would be surprised to hear this.

Here’s an example of the type of social media accounts in question:

*Disclaimer: I’m in no way suggesting these specific accounts work this way*

By following the link to place the bet, you are attributing the result of that bet to the tipster. Win, and you’ll be back for the next bet in the challenge. Lose, and you may think it’s just unlucky, but the tipster who’s gutted to have lost the bet, has just pocketed up to 30% of your losses.

Sure, bookies only ever make money when punters lose, but where does one draw the line in the way their affiliates are remunerated? I love the fact that anyone with a passion (in this case, sports) can start their own business using affiliate marketing with no capital investment, but if tipsters aren’t incentivised correctly, they’re having a carrot dangled in front of them that’s rotten at it’s core.

The beauty of affiliate marketing is that is allows brands and publishers to create mutual beneficial marketing campaigns, that deliver true return on investment for the advertisers and lucrative payouts for the media owners taking the risk. The way this particular system is setup seems to somewhat tarnish the bookmakers reputation, and highlights their willingness to deal with bottom-of-the-barrel publishers looking to make a quick buck.