This week we caught up with Miroslav Pavlov from baccarat.net to talk about his view on the affiliate and casino landscape. Read the full interview below to find out more about this interesting but often misunderstood game.
AI: Can you tell us a bit about baccarat.net, and how you started out in the affiliate business? What made you decide to focus on this particular game as a focus site?
MP: I started out in affiliate marketing in a completely different niche from iGaming. Initially, I was in finance – Forex/CFD trading. After a few years, I switched focus to gambling, and this is what I do now full-time. With Online Baccarat, we set out to create a resource hub where any player interested in knowing everything about the game could find relevant data and useful advice on playing online. Our goal was for the website to be the ultimate source of information regarding the different versions of baccarat – their history, rules, betting strategies, and special features. Having invested tons of hours into research for our informational pages and game and casino reviews, I feel confident saying we have achieved this goal. We are now expanding our reach, translating the website into 15 languages. We have already launched Spanish, German, Japanese, Russian, and Chinese versions, and we are planning on covering more countries.
As for why baccarat – well, I think that this is the most interesting card game in casinos. It has a long history and has been played for centuries all over the world. The Tranby Croft affair, or the royal baccarat scandal, put it in the spotlight as the game of the nobility in the late 19th century. Later in the mid-twentieth century, Ian Fleming sparked interest in the game again by including a guide to baccarat in his book Casino Royale to help readers understand the plot better. The Bond movie franchise further added to the popularity of baccarat, labelling it the game of 007. Its image of a glamorous game played at VIP tables, coupled with the fact that its house edge is one of the lowest in casinos, makes it a very tempting game for the players.
It has always been extremely popular in Asia, where it has been Macau’s biggest revenue generator for years. Casino floors abound in high-roller tables, but there are also many venues where bets start really low so that everyone can join. As you can see, we were not short on reasons to create a baccarat-focused website. We managed to get the domain at a fair price, and here we are two years later, still growing.
AI:What sites do you own and manage right now? Was there a strategy behind the launch of these sites or have you stuck to a niche to specialize and grow your business organically?
MP: We manage over 150 websites spread across different verticals. To name a few – UK online casinos, UK betting sites, UK bingo, sports betting in almost all of Europe and Asia, casino and sports in Latin America, and baccarat – globally. The strategy is simple – whenever we see potential in terms of traffic and value, we are there, our single limit being that there are only 24hrs in the day. In short, we aim to cover sports betting, casino, and bingo globally. Soon, we will launch a very special project for us that we believe will definitely stand out by introducing a new take to the industry. The name of the site is casinoreviews.net, and we expect to launch it at the end of 2019 or early 2020. Trust me – you will be amazed. It will be a site you would want to visit often!
AI:What are some of the hardest challenges you face as an affiliate business owner, and how do you see the casino market changing in 2020 and beyond?
MP:Well, as many others would agree – we’re all faced with the consequences of ever-stricter regulation that’s hitting us hard. The need for compliance has made operators more demanding, which, on our end, means additional resources for staff and website maintenance. We can’t ignore the fact that the value of the business at the regulated markets has significantly dropped, so we try to balance that out by entering markets that are far more profitable.
To be honest, I can’t see the casino market changing for the better until the regulators realize that continued regulatory scrutiny would simply shift players to unregulated markets where they have a much higher chance of never winning. As any other industry, gambling needs to be regulated, but I’d like to see gambling legislation at work that really serves the public interest rather than political opportunism. At some point, there will be equilibrium as game theory states, but I think we have a long road ahead of us before we get there. On the other hand, I believe that gambling affiliates should realize how their work affects users and be more willing to accept responsibility and liability. I think that the days of the regular click farm affiliate sites are over. We need to add value to our product.
AI: What insight can you share on baccarat players and why should casino players look closer at this particular game?
MP: Baccarat players have many reasons to enjoy the game – its simplicity, fascinating peculiarities, and not least its low house edge give it quite a pull. It’s an easy game to learn, but it also has quite a unique atmosphere, so much so that for years, it has been the number one casino game in the world. For decades, baccarat tables have been attracting the biggest crowds at Macau casinos where the game reigns supreme. Many of the traditions and rituals, even though mostly based on superstitions, are replicated in online games, making the experience as realistic and immersive as possible.
We’re seeing a wide range of bet limits and many versions of the game like Speed Baccarat or No Commission Baccarat, so I feel like everyone can choose a variant that caters to their gameplay preferences and budget. Online players enjoy the options that casinos introduce like scorecards for tracing patterns, different side bets, or, for example, the “squeeze” option which adheres to the rituals in the land-based casinos.
I do believe, though, that they would also like to see more baccarat-specific promotions at online casinos. Besides its unique appeal and Oriental flare, the game is also preferred by players for its high RTP – it has one of the lowest hold percentages and requires no more than a simple decision similar to the flip of a coin. So, you can easily see why players love it so much – it is quintessential casino entertainment.
AI:What do you think the future of affiliate marketing looks like and how will you be expanding your business going forward to engage more customers and offer better experiences on your site?
MP: I believe we’re going to witness a lot of changes in affiliate marketing in the next five years. Personally, I’d point out any potential fallibilities of web-based tracking as a serious issue that needs addressing before it undermines the confidence in affiliate tracking and aggravates an industry-wide problem. I think developers need to focus on improving this crucial aspect because, at a certain point, we might see as much as 50% of traffic being lost due to unstable tracking.
As I said earlier, people should focus on adding value to their products – namely, websites. So, this will be our number-one goal: implementing our custom approach to sourcing data, presenting up-to-date information, focusing on user engagement, and reaching people on relevant platforms as part of our affiliate campaigns that always put innovation and flexibility at their core.