Monday, June 24, 2024

How influencers make money from gambling content: YouTube, affiliate

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A woman gambling at a slot machine in Las Vegas.
Shutterstock/Joshua Resnick

  • At the SBC Summit in May, gambling influencers broke down how they make money from content.
  • They described their revenue from affiliate marketing and YouTube advertising.
  • The creators also opened up about the challenges of promoting gambling and working with operators.

The expansion of legal gambling in the US has kickstarted the growth of gambling influencers who play and promote sports betting, slots, and other casino games online.

Josh Duffy, known for his gaming channel Slotaholic, plays slot machines on YouTube for his 27,000 subscribers. Kelly Koffler, who has nearly 60,000 subscribers across her YouTube channels Casino Kelly and Beyond Blackjack, plays casino games such as slots and Blackjack. And, Jon Della Terza, also known as the “NJ Slot Guy,” creates content on high-limit slots.

On Wednesday at the SBC North America Summit in New Jersey, the three gambling influencers broke down how they make money from their content and the challenges of promoting gambling online.

The creators said they generated revenue mainly from affiliate-marketing deals with gambling brands and advertising on their YouTube channels.

Unlike some other content niches, restrictions on gambling content can limit the ways influencers earn and how much they can make. Platforms like YouTube and Twitch restrict gambling on certain sites, while others, including Instagram and TikTok, limit how gambling content is distributed.

With affiliate deals, where influencers are paid for referring customers to gambling operators, the creators said they preferred to be paid flat fees instead of signing revenue-share agreements. They said they did not want to profit directly from someone’s losses.

“It’s a flat rate for me,” said Koffler. “I did not personally want to take a rev share or a per click because I just felt gross about that. I felt like it would be me preying on my audience.”

Even with flat rates, the influencers said affiliate contracts typically brought in more revenue than YouTube, which requires creators to have at least 1,000 subscribers and a certain number of watch hours to earn a cut of the ad revenue from their videos.

“You typically get maybe $8 to $12 per a thousand views, depending on your content and what commercial ads get placed,” Duffy said.

While YouTube can be a steady revenue source, the revenue these influencers generate from the platform doesn’t always cover the cost of creating the content — they’re gambling, after all.

Duffy said he has two affiliate deals to supplement his YouTube income, for example. He creates game-review videos for Light & Wonder’s SidePlay, which makes instant-win games for lottery and gambling operators. He also does weekly livestreams where he plays casino games on sites like McLuck.com and Wow Vegas, which pay him a flat monthly fee.

The pros and cons of affiliate deals for gambling influencers

Duffy said he likes doing affiliate deals because he can be a positive influence in the industry.

“It shows us that we’re appreciated in this arena, that they can rely on us to be a good influence and market their product,” Duffy said. “I feel like I’m doing a service to the industry that’s respected and my viewers understand it’s coming from a good place.”

But, while affiliate jobs can be fruitful, the influencers said some contracts could promote activities that are ethically murky.

For example, the companies often include time restrictions in contracts that dictate how long the influencer has to spend gambling, which could encourage harmful gambling behaviors.

“It takes away from the responsible gaming aspect, for sure, because let’s say you lose within 30 minutes your full bankroll that you started with, you’re having to keep rebuying and rebuying. And as a gambler, we all know you can’t predict the outcome,” said Koffler. “So putting those time restraints on whoever you are working with is not the best idea.”

Koffler said gambling companies should instead trust their influencer partners more to create content that benefits them, the brand, and the audience.

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