GPWA Times Magazine - Issue 24 - April 2013

GPWA AFFILIATE INTERVIEW SERIES Bring your “A” game all year, then move to “A+” for the big events When did you launch your site? August 2008. Your homepage states that Odds Shark aims to become the global authority (not just a global authority) for online betting odds in sports, poker, casino games and horse racing. Statistics in- dicate that you’re well on your way to reaching that goal. Why do you think your site is so well received? The site has grown quite a lot and we take in a lot of customer feedback on new features. The stats and odds are organized well and it looks good, so it appeals to casual and intermediate bettors. I think we enjoy a lot of credibility as the odds partners to Yahoo!, ESPN, FOXSports and other top mainstream sports portals as well. We still have a lot of work to do – even on the sports side, where we do a good job – to reach that lofty goal in our tagline. We have more work to do on poker, casino and horse racing, where some of our ex- cellent fellow affiliates and friends in the industry are proof that we have a lot of catching up to do. Your site provides in-depth statistics and information on upcoming games. Sports bettors have more information available to them than ever before. Do you believe the average punter is more successful as a result of all that infor- mation? How do sharp bettors affect your revenues as an affiliate? Sports betting is a very tough thing to succeed at, but we know that punters are at least far better informed. Whether that translates into their being more successful is tough to say, but sites like ours certainly provide much better insight and information for punters – and not just in volume of stats, but in terms of odds moves and in terms of learning about money management and other important facets of sports wagering. As for sharp players, it can be a boom or bust situation for affiliates, because they can win big or lose big. It is something that affiliates need to monitor, because one successful bettor can be damaging, but there are options at most sportsbooks to manage it. How closely have you been following New Jersey’s efforts to regulate sports betting in Atlantic City casinos? Do you think the U.S. will ever regulate on- line sports betting? If so, when do you think it will happen? I have personally been around the industry for more than 15 years and we were saying back in 1998 that regulation is right around the corner because it makes no sense to continue fighting it. But here we are in 2013 and even at a state level, efforts are being shot down by the courts. New Jersey seems like they will keep fighting for it. The leagues and NCAA seem like they will keep fight- ing it. I think the leagues understand that regulation might actually prevent point shaving and some of the betting prob- lems that they fear. But there is a risk- reward for the leagues as well. How do they benefit from legalized sportsbooks? The margins are so thin that books can’t afford huge sponsorship deals and if there is no huge money to change their minds, why should the leagues abandon their anti-gambling stance? If you show them that the technology is solid and that sites like Betfair can actually help the leagues monitor rogue betting behavior and you can show them the money, I think you will get traction, but not soon. I believe the leagues will need to exhaust all legal ave- nues fighting it, for a public relations show if for no other reason. When do I think it will happen? I suppose if New Jersey sud- denly got some legal green lights, it could spread within a few years. Realistically, I would say another decade of fighting. How dependent on big events are sports betting affiliate sites like Odds Shark? How much more traffic do you get in the early rounds of the NCAA Tournament compared to a random (non-Super Bowl) week in February? Solid traffic volume and broad SEO build a great affiliate site, but ranking well for and converting around key events can really boost the bottom line. Super Bowl remains the king and affiliates can see 10 times as much traffic and signups in the weeks before this game. Kentucky Derby and March Madness are also huge in sports. You have to bring your “A” game all year, then move to “A+” at these times. How did you become involved in the in- dustry? We got involved nearly 20 years ago when provincial sports lotteries be- gan proliferating in Canada. The ProLine and Mise-o-Jeu models are similar to the Delaware style of parlay betting, which is much safer for governments because the margins are so generous. We started out building a tiny offline database of stats and odds and eventually migrated it in 1997 to this thing called the Internet. How long did it take for you to start earning money? It began as a hobby business and was a very small operation for many years. Slowly, it grew into a vi- able business. In the early going of any business, you have to work hard and get lucky. We worked hard but didn’t get too lucky for several years. What traits do you look for in an af- filiate manager? How about in an af- filiate program? An affiliate manager or rep needs to be flexible and responsive, because trends and traffic patterns can change quickly and dramatically. If you and your affiliate boss are not on the same page and not always monitoring things, you can miss a burst of activity – whether it be positive or negative. An affiliate pro- gram that updates stats quickly and allows the affiliate some options in sorting and analyzing the data is important. If you had to pick five keys to success as an affiliate, what would they be? • Content – no quality content equals wast- ed quality leads and a quick death spiral. J IMMY OddsShark Age: 35 Hometown: Montreal Living in: Montreal Site: GPWA Affiliate Interview Series