Steve Ruddock, Catena Media US: Affiliates should "keep a close eye" on esports

As regulation rolls out state-by-state across the US, opportunities for affiliates are growing rapidly, but so are potential regulatory pitfalls.
Affiverse catches up with Steve Ruddock, Senior Analyst at Catena Media US, who hosts a panel on this topic at next week’s London Affiliate Conference (LAC). Ruddock outlines what to expect from the talk, while also offering insight into the development of this sector.
Affiverse: Can you begin by introducing your history in the affiliate space and your role within Catena Media.
Steve Ruddock: I’ve been in the gaming industry in some capacity for close to twenty years. The last ten have largely been spent producing content for gambling affiliates.
My current focus is the legislation and regulation of online gambling and how online gambling intersects with the existing land-based industry. As such I have something of a hybrid role with Catena. My role can range from market research and legislative analysis, to advocating for legalisation and regulation, to traditional content production.
AI: What can we expect from your talk at LAC? Why should affiliates sit in on it?
SR: My aim is to provide an accurate portrayal of the current US affiliate space.
I think the market is largely misunderstood, with people either over- or underestimating the opportunities. There’s no shortage of opportunities, but the US is a unique market with unique challenges.  Hopefully I can simultaneously temper concerns and throw cold water on the idea that the US is some sort of golden goose.
AI: The esports industry remains relatively untapped by affiliates. Is that something you’d agree with? And how can affiliates change this in 2019?
SR: As a gambling product in the US, esports is still trying to find a path to monetisation. I think it would be wise for affiliates to keep a close eye on the space and have a plan in place should esports take off.
AI: Which states do you believe represent the most lucrative opportunity for igaming affiliates?
SR: This is a difficult question and circles back to the previous answer about the unique challenges of the US market, which is effectively 50 separate jurisdictions, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
How the market develops for affiliates will depend on a variety of factors:

  1. How populous the state is
  2. The economic conditions in the state
  3. What products the state decides to legalise and regulate
  4. What entities can apply for a license
  5. The tax rates and licensing fees it will impose
  6. The level (and cost) of licensure for affiliates

As such, different affiliates will find different states more to their liking.
AI: What are your broad predictions for US sports betting and the US affiliate opportunity in 2019?
SR: My best guess is the US won’t pick up where Europe is, rather it will follow in the footsteps of Europe and go through the same growing pains the European market dealt with in years past.
On the other hand, I suspect the US will mirror or even accelerate past Europe when it comes to things like consolidation (with the cost of operating in the numerous US markets acting as the catalyst) and stricter regulations on advertising.

  • Email [email protected] to arrange a meeting with our expert affiliate team at LAC. 
  • For more expert insight, book your spot at Affiverse Bootcamp, our exclusive two-day digital accelerator for igaming affiliates.
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