The Risks and Rewards of Affiliate Marketing in Gambling

Affiliate marketing has become an extremely popular customer acquisition method across many industries, including gambling. The concept is simple – a publisher promotes an online casino like Lucky Wins or the products of particular gambling operator and earns a commission on any new customers they refer.

This performance-based arrangement can be highly lucrative for publishers, while also providing gambling operators access to new markets and customers in a cost-efficient way. However, there are also substantial risks involved that need to be properly managed. 

In this article, we dive deep into the world of affiliate marketing in the gambling industry. We explore the unique risks and rewards, best practices, and advice for both publishers and gambling operators to succeed.

The Rise of Gambling Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing has grown rapidly, along with the online gambling industry itself. Research shows:

  • Online gambling revenue reached $66.7 billion globally in 2020, with projections to grow to $92.9 billion by 2023
  • Over 15% of online gambling customers are referred through affiliates
  • Some top gambling affiliates earn 8 figures per year in commissions
  • For gambling operators, affiliates provide a scalable way to acquire players across multiple markets without major upfront costs. 

Affiliates can monetize traffic from a variety of sources, whether SEO, paid advertising, email lists, social media, and more. The pay-for-performance model incentivizes publishers to drive high-value players.

Key Benefits for Gambling Operators

There are several core benefits for gambling brands in running affiliate programs:

  • Cost-efficient acquisition – Only pay commissions on new referrals
  • Expanded reach – Access publishers with audiences you otherwise couldn’t
  • Risk transfer – Publishers take on marketing costs and risks
  • Automated tracking – Attribution handled through affiliate network

By compensating publishers purely based on performance, gambling brands can scale up customer acquisition without excessive risk or overhead expenses.

Top publishers also provide access to various traffic sources and audiences that brands may not be able to tap directly themselves. This allows expanding into new markets and verticals.

Most importantly, it is the affiliates who take on the risk of spending money driving traffic and only get compensated if they refer real customers. This transfers the marketing risk from the operator’s books.

Considerations for Gambling Affiliates

While affiliate marketing presents a lot of income potential, there are also a few areas of caution for publishers in the gambling industry:


Gambling is a heavily regulated industry globally. Affiliates must ensure compliance with all advertising codes of conduct, terms & conditions, and local regulations. Promoting gambling brands without proper disclosures or targeting restricted jurisdictions can result in sanctions, payment delays, or closures of advertiser programs.  


Player value and gambling activity fluctuates heavily around major sports seasons and events. Publishers need to factor this seasonality effect into traffic and campaign planning to avoid major dips during off-peak periods.

Vertical diversity

Relying solely on one vertical like casino or sports betting leaves publishers vulnerable to vertical-specific regulation changes or market declines. Diversifying across multiple gambling verticals helps smooth out this risk. 

As with any industry, affiliates need to be aware of the unique operational risks in gambling and plan their strategies accordingly to succeed long-term.

Best Practices for Gambling Affiliates

For publishers looking to maximize returns from gambling affiliate programs, here are several best practices:

  • Multi-channel strategy – Monetize traffic from as many sources as possible – SEO, paid ads, email, social, etc. 
  • Compliance first – Always follow advertising guidelines and target approved jurisdictions
  • Promote top offers – Focus on the highest earning offers rather than trying to promote every brand
  • Segment and optimize – Create separate campaigns and assets optimized for each traffic source and geo market
  • Build for longevity – Develop evergreen assets that continue earning commissions long-term  

The most successful gambling affiliates run their businesses with longevity in mind. By diversifying traffic sources, promoting top earning offers, staying compliant, and optimizing over time, publishers can build stable long-term affiliate income.

Key Takeaways

Affiliate marketing provides a win-win arrangement between gambling operators and publishers to acquire new players. But the model does not come without risks.

By following best practices around compliance, diversification, promotion of top offers, and optimization, affiliates can maximize their earnings over the long run.  

Gambling operators also need to ensure their programs follow regulations, provide adequate creatives and promotional tools, and offer competitive commission rates to attract top affiliates.

While the risks in gambling affiliate marketing can never be fully eliminated, they can be effectively managed through diligence on both the affiliate and operator side. With the right strategies and execution, affiliates and gambling brands can both achieve fantastic returns.


I hope this overview has provided a realistic and thorough look at the landscape of affiliate marketing in the gambling sector. The industry provides major opportunities, but has its unique challenges as well.  

For either affiliates or operators, the keys to success ultimately come down to understanding compliance, promoting valuable products to aligned audiences, diversifying risk, and optimizing performance over time. Companies who incorporate these core principles will put themselves in a position to thrive.