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The Challenges of Regulated SEM

As an online advertiser in regulated gambling markets, we face daily challenges with state (jurisdiction) and advertising platform (Google/Bing) regulations. The two don’t always see eye to eye. For instance, you may have a state which allows online gambling while the advertising platform disallows it, or vice versa. Your goal is to find an equation that encompasses a market with fair regulation, limited competition, and a high player value that will make all your efforts worth your while.

Regulation Limitations

Probably the biggest limitation of advertising in regulated markets is that we are limited to a small pool of countries. Much like 4th-grade recess, there is one swing in the playground and dozens of kids willing to fight for it; competition is fierce. In addition, some regulations put a ‘cap’ on the advertiser’s opportunity; whether it’s in the form of tax or limiting the user to a maximum daily wager.

In most cases you will need to receive an Advertising Gambling License (per market and per site) from the state and/or advertising platform. As an advertiser, you’ll be advertising with one hand tied behind your back.

  • You will be limited by the advertising platform to the things you offer the user in your ads.
  • Your site will be examined by policy teams regularly.
  • You will not be able to use the platform’s full capability (for example, with Google, remarketing is off-limits).

Make sure you’re ready for a dynamic market and that you have what it takes to be flexible for regulation changes, as these happen quite a bit.


In regulated gambling markets, you will find yourself competing against two types of players; brands (e.g., casinos) and affiliate marketers (those that promote more than one brand on their sites). If you’re an affiliate, your direct competition consists of affiliates like yourself, while your indirect competition is the brand. If you’re a brand, your direct competition consists of other brands as well as affiliates; that is unless you make affiliates “your partners” and have them feature your brand on their sites.

It goes without saying that market isn’t big enough for everyone, so be ready for a rumble – you’re in the PPC big leagues now. Make sure your pockets are deep enough to support your operations, as there is no turning back; spends in competitive markets can range from $1 to over $250 per click.

Be sure to support your operations with technology (both for analysis and financing purposes). Find your strength and stick to it; there is no need to cover the entire market. Indeed, sometimes less is more.

Make Every Click Count

Lastly, make every click count! Give your users real value, make sure they find exactly what they’re looking for. Be creative and take risks or you’ll perish.
Most importantly, keep a tight funnel, as every click that abandons your funnel decreases your margin. Look at the numbers, but don’t dare forget that there are a set of eyes behind each click.

Give the user what he/she needs and you’ll be sure to get what you want out of them.


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The Challenges of Regulated SEM