Latest Casino Bonuses Founder Joshua Chan Reveals His Success Formula

The casino affiliate market is growing with an incredible pace and so is its importance for the online gambling industry. Over the past few years, several important acquisitions took place within the gaming affiliate space and the purchase of WizardofOdds by Joshua Chan was one of those major deals.

Joshua Chan is the founder of Latest Casino Bonuses, which was launched as a simple five-page website back in 2006 and gradually grew into one of the biggest affiliate networks out there. How it all started, what it took to turn into a big name in the market, and how the affiliate business has grown into what it is now, Joshua gave comprehensive answers to these and a number of other important questions.

Here is our interview with Joshua Chan from Latest Casino Bonuses, WizardofOdds, and many more:

You are the owner of one of the biggest networks of affiliate websites at present. But how did it all start? How have you grown into one of the leaders in the online gaming affiliate market?

Still sounds a little surreal when you put it like that!

Well, I began in the industry late in 2006. I was creating flash ads at my brother’s online marketing startup Pureprofile.com (went public on ASX last year!) – a job I’d had since leaving university in 2000. I had enjoyed playing at a few online poker and casino sites so I started looking into what an affiliate in the gambling space could earn bringing in players. I was surprised at the amounts and thought I would give it a try.

I started with a simple 5-page website with no back-end and all updated manually via HTML and an Google AdWords campaign. As luck would have it, this was right around the time the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 hit the market and AdWords put a ban on gambling ads… timing! Since I was not in the industry, I had no knowledge of this restriction and proceeded to create an ad and put it up on Google (it was instantly live back then).

I was earning money from day one because the AdWords bidding was so low on gambling keywords since everyone had been kicked off! As you can imagine I was very excited about this and started to focus all my time on improving my site and increasing my marketing budget.

It took about a week for Google to inform me that I was in breach of its terms by advertising gambling. This came as a big blow but I was hooked so I changed a few words on my ads and they went live again. I then started to look into other ways I could get traffic and the best way was SEO. So, after learning all I could about the subject, I came to the conclusion that my current site would not do well in organic search so I started from scratch with LatestCasinoBonuses.com

Site Back Then!

After about 3 months of fighting a losing battle with Google AdWords my new site started to rank organically and I was able to stop all PPC and concentrate on improving the site. I also had a stable income to employ a developer to create a back-end to run the site, as well as hire some moderators to help update information and manage the young forum. I quit contracting for Pureprofile and a few others at around this point and focused all my efforts on growing this new business.

I basically have not stopped since. I was lucky and found great partners to help me continue to grow the site and eventually the network, namely in chronological order Jem, Nikola and Melanie. I was never afraid to hire more people to help me, which I have discovered is what has held many gambling affiliates back. We now have over 35 people working with us.

Here are all sites within our network and when we created or purchased them:

LatestCasinoBonuses.com – 2006
CasinoListings.com – 2007
LatestBingoBonuses.com – 2009
LatestSportsBonuses.com – 2009
LatestPokerBonuses.com – 2009
CasinoSlots.net – April 2011
BingoReviewer.co.uk – June2011
NoDepositCasino.org – June 2012
FreeCasinoGames.net – June 2012
NoDepositBingo.co.uk – June 2012
OnlineBlackjack.com – May 2014
GamesAndCasino.com – July 2014
WizardOfOdds.com – September 2014
WizardOfVegas.com – September 2014
WizardOfMacau.com – September 2014
BJ21.com – March 2016

What are the main points an owner of casino affiliate website should pay special attention to in order to create a successful and popular product?

Value

To be successful in this industry you need to create value. This value can come in different forms, be it placing a relevant banner on an article, making available a product that a person is looking for, or writing a helpful guide to help someone play a game with the best chance of winning. My value was building a site that was really on the players’ side in a sea of cookie cutter sites promoting a top 3-10 online casinos that gave them the best return. I did this by building a comparison of online casino bonuses sorted by casino games, so you could say to a blackjack player – these are the top bonuses from all the online casinos that allow blackjack to be played to complete the bonus.

Help

Do not be afraid to delegate your work to employees. You cannot do everything by yourself and grow and maintain a quality product. I see so many affiliates that have been in the industry for years that basically run the business as a one man show.

Reinvest

You need to invest your resources back into maintaining your product and keep ahead of the competition. You might have a site that is doing well today but 10 others are hungry to outdo you, you have an advantage if you already have traction, but if you stand still you will quickly find yourself at the back of the pack.

The casino affiliate market is growing at an extremely fast pace. What do you think both newbies and established affiliate website owners should know in order to cope with the ever-increasing competition?

Keep learning and keep seeking advice, do your research and make sure your product is better than the competition. I continually look at new websites being released and old sites being relaunched to give me an idea of were I stand and what I need to do to keep up and stay to get ahead of the competition.

And what do you think urges this rapid growth?

The Internet itself is a relatively young animal and it is finding its way on more and more devices and homes around the world. Combine that with gambling being such an old and lucrative industry that is now just finding its feet online with regulation around the world and it is a pretty potent formula. I have no doubt we will still see rapid growth for many years to come.

In 2014, you bought fellow affiliate websites GamesandCasino and WizardofOdds. What were your main motives behind these two acquisitions? What were the main things that made you choose the two sites over the sea of existing gambling portals?

WizardofOdds, or as we now call it internally WoO, has been the go-to resource for learning how to play a gambling game and give you the best chance of winning for the last 15 years. I visited the site when I created my first one so I had no doubt of its quality content. I then learned that Mike (the wizard) was having some financial trouble after banking with a bank in Cyprus, so I used the contact form, emailed Mike and asked if he would consider selling the site. I had had no previous contact. Mike shared the financials and traffic details of the sites and myself and partners had a good feeling we could greatly improve them given a chance and the right changes on the site. So, after several months of pretty tough negotiations, other interesting parties making offers and a final bidding war, a deal was closed and we signed at a café on Santa Monica Beach in Los Angeles. We sealed the deal with a race climbing a rope on the sand.

GamesandCasino is another old site I had noticed had gone quiet for some time but still had decent traffic so after missing the sale of the site from the original owner, Dominique, by just a few months, I contacted the new owners and let them know I was interested. Another few more months passed and they contacted me to let me know the site was too large for them to manage and relaunch so I investigated the financials and traffic and purchased the site for just a little over what Dominique sold it for originally.

How the two sites complement your whole network? What changes have you implemented in order to adapt them to your other sites?

With WoO we added a new back-end and shared some of the data about online casinos and software. We did this to enhance the reviews that already existed on the site and new ones being added. It also saved Mike time with a back-end that was much easier to work with. With G&C we had to basically put the whole site into a content management system as it was made up of about 7,000 individual hand coded pages. This took many man hours as you can imagine. We then plugged in some of the data about casinos and bonuses so that we can now have many of the pages kept up to date automatically.

We basically try to eliminate any duplicate work so once you update a bonus on one site, the whole network gets updated. This helps eliminate human error and keeps the sites updated with current information for our players.

Given that you purchased both sites almost two years ago, could you say that these acquisitions have influenced your business in a positive manner?

So far, WoO has been a great success and we have been focusing many of our resources on continually adding great content, improving the user experience and what the site offers. We really feel it has become one of the pillars of the network. Something interesting I like to do since I bought the site is when I visit a casino I ask the dealer how they learnt how to play the game and give advice on the correct play, and 2 out of 3 times they say they looked it up at Wizard of Odds online. (smiles)

G&C has been harder to manage but we are now in a good place. We spent more than expected on redesigning and moving the site into a content management system and are now estimating a longer time to recoup what we have spent but traffic is growing and conversions have improved so we are happy with our decision.

We have had to grow our team to help run these 2 extra sites. We retained pretty much all of the team that ran the wizard sites and they now also create and write content for other sites on the network.

Are you planning any such important acquisitions in 2016?

We just purchased bj21.com from Stanford Wong – a legend in the blackjack community. Although the site is a little different from our other sites because it runs a subscription-only members message board and newsletter (which has been running since 1979!), we feel it is a valuable addition and already have a new design we are rebuilding the site with.

I am also looking at a few others but we have not been able to agree on a price as yet. But who knows, we are always looking for great sites to add to our reach.

Speaking of acquisitions, how would you comment on online lead generation company Catena Media’s march towards a constant expansion in the market?

I think they have a good long-term strategy as long as they can maintain the value in the sites that they have purchased and continue to improve them, they do have a danger of expanding too fast and letting the quality of what they have purchased start to slide.

Most recently, it acquired popular affiliate website AskGamblers.com for €15 million, an amount that makes the transaction one of the largest within the sector. Why do you think the purchase occurred right now?

I have known Igor, the previous owner, for many years now and I know he built a great team in Belgrade to run AskGamblers and build on his other non-gambling related projects. It made sense for Catena Media to acquire both the site and retain and integrate the team to help manage their growing network while keeping the running costs down.

The regulated markets are also heating up with online casinos going public for huge figures. These casinos need a steady stream of players and large portals like AskGamblers is one way to try and ensure that.

I was actually offered to buy into AskGamblers many years ago and take over management of the site but Igor and I could not agree on a price and the deal fell through.

Do you think that Catena Media possesses the right capabilities to handle AskGamblers.com’s operations, especially given the essence of the portal’s main focus and its popularity?

To that I do not really know, but since they have retained the team that runs AG, I expect that they will be fine in the short term, at least.

As a person with quite a lot of experience in the casino affiliate marketing field, what other precious pieces of advice would you give to both new affiliates and well-established ones?

I had a friend recently try his hand at building a non-gambling-related affiliate portal. He ran into many problems because he did not know at least a little bit about each of the individual elements that go into building and running a successful affiliate website. He later had to learn these subjects himself and discovered that what he had been paying others to take care of was basically garbage. This put him in danger of running out of funds and having the whole project fail. So I think on that note my final bit of advice would be to make sure you know what you are paying others to do by learning the basics of that subject or at least, seek advice from trusted parties to help you determine whether you are getting what you really need.

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