Three leading UK gambling affiliates have launched the ‘Responsible Affiliates in Gambling’ (RAIG) trade association to help promote responsible gambling.

The association, comprising of founding members Oddschecker, Racing Post and Better Collective, has been established in recognition of the role that marketing affiliates have in the promotion of social responsibility within the gambling industry.

Each member of RAIG will be subject to yearly social responsibility audits conducted by gambling compliance consultancy firm Gambling Integrity. The audit will ensure affiliates are compliant with a range of statutory and non-statutory UK regulations.

This includes rules set by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), the UK Code of non-broadcast Advertising and Direct and Promotional Marketing (CAP),  the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP), and the Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising. The first audit will take place in June 2019, with the results to be used to establish best practice for affiliates.

Clive Hawkswood, former chief executive of the Remote Gambling Association (RGA), has been appointed the association’s chairman. Also taking up directorial positions are Guy Harding, Head of Commercial at Oddschecker, Cian Nugent, Racing Post’s Digital Director, and Karl Pugh, Head of Business Development at Better Collective.

Speaking on the launch of RAIG, Hawkswood said: “A broad group of affiliates have been discussing the need for a dedicated association for some time. Particular credit should go to the founding members of RAIG for making that a reality and, crucially, for deciding that it should focus exclusively on social responsibility and safe gambling.”

Hawkswood added: “The new audit process will be a key driver to achieving compliance and progress in these crucial areas and raising the standards of the affiliate marketing sector as a whole. However, the members are anxious to go beyond that and we look forward to engaging with other stakeholders, especially regulators, to explore what additional measures might be considered in the future.”

“Affiliate providers of marketing services are already subject to extensive regulation, but more can always be done in relation to consumer protection and RAIG will provide a forum for that.”

RAIG is currently discussing industry concerns around affiliate marketing with the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ahead of commencing its own plan to improve standards. The association also plans to involve politicians and industry stakeholders in any discussions that regard the responsible advertising of gambling products.

The prospect of an affiliate trade association has been discussed within the sector for several years and has proved a divisive topic. Tom Galanis, director of TAG Media, has been lobbying for a trade body since 2017 and called the launch of RAIG “a huge step forward for the iGaming affiliate industry and the industry in general.”

Galanis added that “The new trade association recognises the role that affiliate marketing providers must play as part of wider industry initiatives in the UK to promote social responsibility and a safe gambling environment […] We now have something to throw our weight behind in efforts to demonstrate and raise the standards that our industry can and should be held to in the UK market and beyond.”

According to ASA estimates, there are currently around 750 gambling affiliates in the UK, all of whom will be eligible to apply for RAIG membership. RAIG will offer full membership and associate membership, though membership will only be made available after the first 12 months.

RAIG’s formation comes at a time of significant change in the gambling industry as regulators, politicians and operators seek to raise social responsibility standards. Recent changes include a reduction in the maximum bets allowed on fixed odds betting terminals, a whistle-to-whistle ban on gambling adverts during sports events, and new age and identity verification rules for online gambling sites.