BetMGM Warns Affiliates: Stop Abusing Bonus Codes to Game the System

Written by:
Aaron Goldstein
Published on:
Nov/13/2022

BetMGM.com sent out notices to some of its affiliates warning that they could be in violations of the online sports betting company's terms of agreement. 

Specifically, BetMGM warns affiliates are not allowed to "optimize for search results including any individual or combination of the terms: "bonus", "promo code", "coupon code" and any similar terms and their variations (including using the aforementioned terms and variations in URL names, webpage and article titles, backlinks and meta descriptions".

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Rules for Me But Not for Thee

BetMGM has asked some of its affiliates to remove said language.  We emphasize the word "some" as apparently their bigger affiliates either didn't get the memo or chose to ignore it.

Case in point: Type "BetMGM" into Google News.  See what you get.  You won't find news related to BetMGM.  Instead, you'll come up with a bunch of various bonus code options.

What really stunned us here at Gambling911.com is that a lot of these "news" stories come from real news websites.  Our query produced aggregated "news" from the Philadelphia Inquirer, New York Post, MassLive and AL.com, the later of which operates from a state that has yet to legalize sports wagering.

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The vast majority of promos being pushed include amounts of $1000 to $1500, mainly advertised as a "risk-free bet". 

The Miami Herald can be found pushing a $400 bet for those who reside in Ohio?  MassLive wants you to get your free pre-registration bonus of $200 in Maryland?

For anyone looking for real news pertaining to BetMGM, good luck finding it.  We dug deep into Google News and nothing but promo codes.

BetMGM warns in its recent notice that "failure to comply will result in withholding of commissions and terminations".

Affiliates were left questioning what they should do with content that targets key terms related to bonus codes and promotional offers as part of their legitimate marketing efforts in regular search. 

It wasn't immediately clear if any affiliates were yet to be booted from the BetMGM program.  There is nothing on the Internet to indicate they have been.  But if Bet365 and other case studies are any indication, one can expect the worst coming soon.

In April of 2018, Bet365 began requiring its affiliates to delete certain language from reviews and utilize scripted copy provided by the company.  This came as a result of the Advertising Standards Authority new protocols for social responsibility.  Bet365 completely overhauled its terms & conditions and began booting non complying affiliate partners.  We would note that Bet365 was once considered among the most revered online gambling affiliate programs.

GPWA.com members at the time were quick to point out the problem with requiring affiliates to adhere to generic scripted copy.

Member Trifonoff started off the conversation.

The ethical one: affiliate reviews are the core of the value added service our industry generates. Explaining to the customers the advantages and the disadvantages of a given operator is what makes us useful and what generates trust in our platforms. Changing a neutral review from us with their promotional texts would be misleading to our visitors and would be unfair competition to the other operators we work with.

The legal one: their promotional texts (I comment only on Bulgarian ones as I didn't check the other languages) do not pass the compliance guide from Bulgarian Gambling Commission. They have pushing expressions as "Open account today", "Earn more from your bets" and descriptions as "wonderful", "fantastic" and so on. My texts (and I believe it is a common standard in the industry) are strictly informational. Now they ask of me to either break our national compliance guide or theirs. 

We don't know if BetMGM will actually act on its demands.  It's inevitable they will have no other choice at some point.  Whether that's tomorrow, a month from now, a few years from now, is anybody's guess.

- Aaron Goldstein, Gambling911.com

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