Bill Rini has touched on this in the past, but it still amazes me that so many online gambling operators STILL have absolutely no fucking clue when it comes to efficiently managing an affiliate channel.
Case in point: yesterday I signed up for a handful of poker and casino affiliate programs, including one that manages the affiliate operations for a group of four reasonably well-known online casinos. Not a major name but also not some shady operation.
The signup process was easy enough, and they auto-approve new accounts, so as soon as you sign up you can log in and start grabbing link codes and marketing material. It was getting late so I shut things down for the evening and, the next morning, had the following email in my inbox:
"Hi, my name is Jimbob Schwartz and I'm your affiliate contact here at Midsized Affiliate Program That's Been Around for Five Years or So and Should Know Better. Please advise as to why you haven't yet added our links to your website.
I mean, sure, personal point of contact, quick response, yada yada yada, kudos kudos kudos, but in what strange universe is that a positive experience for a new affiliate who has been a member of your program for a grand total of 12 hours? Maybe I'm not the best example, but that's enough in and of itself to convince me to NEVER advertise your program, especially when there are literally dozens of similar casinos and programs that I can instead add a link to.
And, sadly, that's just a minor fail in the larger scheme of things, when you have major operators like bwin trying to roll out cataclysmically bad changes for affiliates that impact past players acquired under very different terms.
I get that many online sites have a love-hate relationship with affiliates (or more accurately hate-hate for most), and that's understandable, as the majority of affiliates don't necessarily "deserve" the revenue they're ultimately paid out (in the sense that they're not always doing any filtering or winnowing out of low-value referred players). But there's also an obvious reliance and need, as it'd be the easiest thing in the world for sites to wind down their affiliate programs over time if there truly was no value there.
If you're resigned to offering an affiliate program, is it really that hard to do it competently? I mean, for the majority of affiliates (who advertise a lot of programs and have a lot of experience), just get the hell out of the way. Give me a quick and dirty page with basic text links and the most popular ad formats. It shouldn't take eight clicks just to get a simple text link. Don't send me email; if I have a question or need something I'll contact you. If I need hand-holding and emails and prompts, well, odds are I'm going to be a pretty sucky affiliate for you, as it's not hard to add text links and banners (unless you make it needlessly hard, that is.)