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This week we chat with Punters Lounge Managing Director Paul Ross, who talks us through his vision for the company, while also giving his view on issues faced by those in the affiliate space.

AffiliateINSIDER: Can you begin by introducing Punters Lounge as a company and explain what the site brings to the affiliate space?

Paul Ross: Punters Lounge was initially one of the very first betting forums for betting on football. It became extremely popular as a place punters could interact, share thoughts and tips on all sports as well as a vibrant poker forum, long before the days of social media.

Since then, it has become much more professional in its outlook of what it needs to become. Our aim is to create a place that punters love and can’t do without, but always free for the visitors. We’ve made big strides in 2018, but it really is just the beginning as we aim to raise the bar significantly.

AI: There are a number of sportsbook affiliate sites out there. What makes Punters Lounge stand out from its competitors?

PR: I think to describe us as a sportsbook affiliate site is a mistake, we’re so much more than that. Punters Lounge has evolved into a huge sports betting and poker community with thousands of loyal members and visitors every single day. Our primary aim is to create a place where punters have the majority of what they want in one place, but you’ll have to wait and see what that entails! The days of just having a free bets website are doomed, you have to be so much more and google is showing this to everyone each and every day.

Only brands will survive, but specifically those who have a vision and don’t just sit back, we have that and it’s coming. Development does take time to do things right and it cannot be rushed, but we know when we’re finished during 2019 that we will have created a much more advanced place for punters, despite how popular we already are. November & December 2018 saw record traffic at Punters Lounge, so clearly we’re doing something right.

AI: Punters Lounge boasts an ‘offline community’. Can you expand on this and outline why you believe it’s important?

The Punters Lounge Racedays and Poker Championships, normally held once every year, have been a hell of a ride over the years with stories you just couldn’t believe unless you were there. This is where Punters Lounge is different, not just people tweeting each other, but actually meeting up in real life and having a laugh. These people range from black cab drivers to professors of Maths, which shows you how diverse we are.

Not everyone wishes to attend of course, but I do think it’s important to have these events and gives us another dimension. Members have attended not just from UK, but from Ireland, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania and even as far as Australia!

AI: And how important is the Punters Lounge Forum when it comes to driving traffic?

PR: The forum is heavily underestimated and of course social media has had an effect on that, but we’re seeing a lot more people posting now, than ever before. I think social media is one type of punter, and people who post on forums want a more in depth view on things. This attracts many more new members, sometimes just to say thanks for a great tip. Without doubt we have the most active and most well structured betting & poker forum in UK & Europe, just take a look for yourselves compared to others.

We have 50 separate football forums and this structuring means punters can find what they want with ease, which is exactly why we did it and it works really well. Our Tennis Tips forum is the envy of everyone, but we have many many shrewd punters in all areas, not least the No.1 Non League Football expert who regularly takes the bookies to the cleaners. Our poker forum members entered a team into the APAT UK Team Championships in Blackpool last year and against all the odds, Punters Lounge are the reigning champions aiming to defending that title at the end of January.

AI: As we move into 2019, what are your hopes and aspirations for the next twelve months for Punters Lounge?

PR: I’m not one to talk the talk too much, I prefer to walk the walk. We have a PL Vision as I’ve labelled it and once it’s achieved during 2019 we will have raised the bar for everyone to follow and created a one stop shop for all punters. How do I know what that should be?

I stumbled into this industry many years ago with very little marketing experience, but a vast array of betting knowledge.

What I don’t know about betting, you could put on the back of a postage stamp. Therefore, I know what’s required to go to the next level and without revealing what we’re doing, it will most definitely raise the bar but you have to keep raising it, getting there is easy, staying there isn’t.

AI: Anything else you’d like to mention?

PR: Regulations, regulations, regulations. They’re important and they are there to stay, however one operator, namely Sky Bet, I feel used this as a total smokescreen to close affiliate partner accounts, which boosted their EBITDA value in the sale to The Stars Group. This was the most disgraceful decision I’ve ever seen in 15 years of working in this industry.

That decision cost some people their jobs, and cost some families undue stress and anxiety and from an affiliate perspective, it felt that it was all down to greed. You have to ask yourself, how much money is enough money, before it becomes about power, ego and greed? I’d rather have great morals and a respected reputation, than an endless supply of cash.

Bet365 are the only operator that has the right to be arrogant in my opinion, yet they are ultra professional, helpful and just a joy to work with. Other operators should follow their example and they would see much better cooperation and results.