As someone with fairly deep ties to the poker affiliate community, I was intrigued when I saw an aggressive article on PokerUpdate taking PokerAffiliateSolutions (PAS) to task for a host of purported problems.
For the unfamiliar, PAS offers affiliates a turnkey, white-label system for promoting online poker rooms where PAS handles the backend (including payments. platform and reporting) for affiliates, and affiliates handle the marketing.
The PokerUpdate article appears to be based primarily on a TwoPlusTwo thread where a small handful of affiliates – most notably Leggo Poker – raise issues with PAS, mostly centered around delayed payments.
The timing of the article is somewhat odd, given:
- The age of the thread (dormant since early October)
- The fact that many of the delayed payment complaints in the thread - including Leggo’s – appear to be already resolved.
- That PAS sent a statement to all publishers in early October providing reasons for (and solutions to) payment delays.
In that statement, PAS CEO Chris Carlson cited general processing challenges (especially with US-facing rooms) and a new PAS policy requiring the company to receive funds from poker rooms before paying affiliates. Carlson concluded his statement with a promise to affiliates:
We realize that we have grown to a level that our processing needs to be restructured, which in conjunction with renegotiated agreements with certain partners, should allow us to receive commissions in a more timely fashion. [...] Right now, I can confidently say that the worse of the payment delays are behind us, and the result of all the work we have done to alleviate this will show incremental impacts throughout the rest of year, and we will be operating at normal payment times by the beginning of next year.
I reached out to a major affiliate I know that utilizes PAS and asked him for his sense of the company’s current reliability regarding payments. His response:
As a publisher who has cashed out roughly $300k over the last year from PAS, we have also seen a delay in our payment schedule. However we feel strongly that Chris Carlson and PAS is being straightforward with us and that payments will be back on the regular schedule soon. We don’t at all believe this is a RakeReduction situation and as a business are not making any backup plans.
I asked PAS for their response to the article. Here’s where things get a little more involved. From a statement provided to me by Carlson:
The sad reality is that the article is written by a possible competitor who is trying to break into the market that PAS has pioneered. It’s disappointing to see a company stoop to this level in an industry that has outgrown these sorts of tactics.
We stand 100% behind what I wrote in my letter to publishers recently. Our payment times to members and publishers have been improving and it’s been our number one focus as a company the second half of 2012.
We have provided our affiliate marketing services to over 1,000,000 poker players and 7,000 publishers over the last 8 years. Our reputation has remained unquestioned by any reliable industry player throughout the years. We have worked too hard and tirelessly and made too many trusted relationships to walk away or be accused of potentially walking away from our responsibilities. It’s just not how we(PAS) do business.
What competitor? Carlson appears to be referring to the soon-to-be-launched PokerSolutions.com, a project of PokerVIP - which also oversees PokerUpdate.com. Like PokerAffiliateSolutions, PokerSolutions looks to offer affiliates a white-label, turnkey solution for promoting online gambling.
To some, this could read as a purposefully negative story that appears to be old news promoted by a direct competitor of the story’s subject.
Affiliates are right to be very wary of payment delays or any other red flags from rooms or super-affiliates like PAS. But if people start throwing up potentially false or agenda-driven red flags, that muddies the waters and diminishes the ability of the affiliate community to recognize and act on genuine threats.
After looking through the facts available publicly, speaking with PAS and speaking with multiple affiliates, I simply do not see a problem with PAS from where I sit. If you know something I don’t, please get in touch.
In the interest of full disclosure, I do not utilize PAS as an affiliate, although I have in the past. I have no financial or ownership interest in PAS.