Veteran of the affiliate marketing space, Jeremy Enke of Empire Marketing, joins the show to discuss the expanding igaming market and the direction the US is headed.

Video from Jeremy Enke Interview

Show notes from Jeremy Enke Interview

Ryan Knuppel: All right, welcome back to another episode of The Knup Sports Show. I’m your host, Ryan Knuppel here with you each and every time. Thank you so much for giving us just a few minutes out of your day to tune in, talk a little bit about sports betting, hear what we have to say. We have another awesome guest with us today. Somebody I’ve been friends in the industry with for quite some time Jeremy Enke, consultant with Empire Marketing is with us today. Jeremy, thanks for joining me.

Jeremy Enke: Hey, absolutely. Happy to be here.

Ryan Knuppel: Jeremy, we go a long way back. It’s crazy to think about how far we go back in this gaming space. Tell us a little bit about your past. I know we’ll talk a little bit about what you’re doing now. But I’d like to hear a little bit about where you came from and how you grew up in the space.

Jeremy Enke: Yeah, sure. So, I’m going to date myself and we’re going to really make ourselves feel old. So, it was like 2003 I was playing on Party Poker, just casual playing online poker and I saw that they had an affiliate program, and at the time, I graduated college with a marketing degree. So, I was like, I’m going to get into online marketing. So, I started promoting Party Poker. And I mean, just the most unscrupulous ways, like spamming Craigslist, going to Full Tilt, well this was before Full Tilt, but like other poker sites and just doing things the total wrong way. But that being said, like it actually worked, like all these crazy things work back in those days. So fast forward. I was looking to meet other poker affiliates, basically. And there really wasn’t any. There were no communities or forums. This is back before MySpace for crying out loud. So, I wrote this book called ‘Party Riches’ and basically just explained what being a poker affiliate was, how it worked, and sold it on eBay. And after I had about, I don’t know, I want to say 30/40 people bought the book, I started my own forum. And from there it grew and affiliate marketing itself really started to blow up because people were realizing like, hey, I can work from home. And the poker boom was literally just getting started. So, I launched the community, ended up partnering with Poker News. And we rebranded it to Poker Affiliate World and then turned Poker Affiliate World, actually into an affiliate network. And from there, let that network run on its own. I launched poker affiliate listings. And I mean, you were one of the original members in that community. And yeah, that was a fun time.

Ryan Knuppel: And what’s funny is, you probably don’t even know this, but I actually give credit to you and Poker Affiliate Listings for my start in this industry, really, back then, I was the same. I was like, oh, I’m going to get into this affiliate space, but I wasn’t really sure what my path was going to be until Poker Affiliate Listings comes about. And there’s this little thing there about a marketplace and people asking for content, needing some articles and I’m like, well, I can write articles. Yeah, sure. So, start churning out some articles. And sure enough, you know, that led to where I’m at today in my business and I’m still working with many of the same people from Poker Affiliate Listings. In fact, we talked about you several times and how that that forum single handedly kind of launched this whole thing in a subtle way, which is kind of weird to think about now.

Jeremy Enke: That is crazy. And you know, it’s kind of humbling too because, like you and me both, we’re still buddies with a lot of the original people and it’s funny seeing people that I remember when they first started on the forums, had no clue about internet marketing, and now these guys are like legit millionaires. Like Dustin for example, if you remember him, that guy is crushing it. I mean, he’s not really in gambling anymore, but I was like, holy hell.

Ryan Knuppel: Well, there’s a lot to be said about the affiliate marketing space and learning it and perfecting it and mastering it, and it’s not an easy space to master, right? But it’s certainly can be a lucrative one, especially if you know what you’re doing. So, it’s awesome. So, fast forward to today. So now what are you up to now? Now I know that you kind of got out of the affiliate space, now kind of back in, tell us a little bit about today.

Jeremy Enke: Yeah. So basically, I think you would agree, and most people, we’ve all been waiting for this US market to regulate. And it’s like, we kind of pinch ourselves and say, I can’t believe this is actually happening. I’m in Illinois, so this is awesome. Seeing all these new brands coming online. So, now I’m really just doing consulting and helping some of these new casinos coming on board, kind of understand the digital space and understand the online space because it’s amazing that a lot of these land based casinos, they just don’t they don’t understand necessarily how marketing works in the digital space. And really, in addition to that, too, it’s not even just the casinos. It’s really the big brands like, CBS Sports, I mean, they don’t understand necessarily how do you convert gamblers? What do you know, what are the best methods to market to these people? So, I’ve been working with a lot of lot of these regulated US market (companies). Prior to doing the consulting I’m doing now, I actually was in New Jersey with Pala Casino and helped them launch their brand into the New Jersey market. So that was really interesting. I will say one of the big differences with this regulated market versus the old days is like, it’s just so much different because it used to be like the Wild West. If you can remember, like I alluded to at the beginning of our interview, spamming Craigslist, it’s not like that anymore. Like, even just to be an affiliate, you have to fill out all this paperwork and get approved and everything else. But I’ll tell you, I feel like the excitement is about the same right now with these regulated markets opening up as it was back when you and I were just getting started in ‘03/’04.

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, and what’s fun about it now is that, even though, especially me, what I was doing back then, right, providing services to people in the gambling space. I didn’t really want to talk about it too much. I was very, and I don’t know why that was just because it was it wasn’t necessarily illegal what I was doing. But gambling in the US wasn’t really legal. So, kind of in a roundabout way, I felt like what I was doing was kind of shady or illegal. And now it’s like, all I want to do is talk about what I do and what I’m involved in. And because it’s now becoming accepted in the US, and that just makes it so much fun. And now you’re starting to see lots of people talking about it, and lots of news every day from different states and different publications and just seems like every day there’s a new project or a new site out there in this space. And so, I just love that excitement forming around this industry. It’s long overdue, right, for that to really be talked about here in the United States.

Jeremy Enke: 100%. And you know, it’s crazy. Never in a million years did I think I would turn on the radio or the TV and here like sportscasters talking about odds are no magic. Like if they would have done that back in 2005, 2006, they would have been fired. And now it’s like it like you said, it is super exciting because back in the day at like Christmas dinners you won’t even want to tell your family members, like what do you do for a living? Oh, just marketing. Online Marketing is all you would say. Now like, talk about sports betting and talk about you know, for us here in Illinois. DraftKings just came into the market, BetRivers, all these places. It’s super cool.

Ryan Knuppel: It is. For all of you guys listening you know I really respect Jeremy and everything he’s done in the industry. But there’s one thing I definitely do not respect about him, and that’s that dang Cubs jacket you’re wearing. Come on, man. You know, I’m a Cardinal fan. Coming on my show wearing a Cub logo. I guess I’ll forgive you.

Jeremy Enke: I thought about that this morning. Actually, when I was getting dressed, I was like, I’m going on Ryan’s show I am for sure going to put my Cubs shirt on. And I got this scoreboard in my office behind me.

Ryan Knuppel: I see that man. You got a great setup there. So, let’s talk a little bit about Illinois. I mean, you just mentioned DraftKings, BetRivers, I think William Hill is now operating there. Lots of them are operating. But let’s talk a little bit about this mobile, it’s not even a bill, this mobile thing that’s going on. Because as of now, I think we’re still set for like Saturday being a cutoff again, right? Or have they extended that?

Jeremy Enke: Well, they haven’t extended it yet. There was a board meeting with the Illinois Gaming Board yesterday, or no, I’m sorry, today, actually, this morning. And I haven’t read the notes on that yet. But I have a hard time believing that they’re not going to extend that. And really, for the reason, down in Southern Illinois, you’re pretty familiar with where DraftKings, Casino Queens are, their COVID rate is through the roof right now. Oh, I don’t know. It’s I mean, the whole thing is really kind of ridiculous. When you think about it, just the sense of like, why would we have mobile apps and online sports betting but then people can’t register on a mobile app? Like it makes no sense. I was speaking with a casino in Ohio this past week, and even these guys were like, what are you guys doing an Illinois that’s doesn’t make any

sense.

Ryan Knuppel: Leave it to Illinois, though, to kind of not make sense on what they’re doing. And for those of you listening that don’t really know what we’re talking about, when the law came out in Illinois that sports betting was legal, part of that was you had to be physically at the casino to sign up and bet, and then you could go wager on your mobile apps and play. Well, with COVID and all of this, the temporary ruling is people can sign up through mobile, which in the affiliate space, really is a like, two thumbs up for affiliates. Because now we can promote the mobile side and that kind of thing. So, it’s been like a back and forth thing, like on off-on off on this mobile site. And so, I don’t know why Illinois doesn’t just come out and say, this is working. Why would we change it for COVID and not COVID? Let’s just leave it if it’s okay to do now, why isn’t it okay to do in two months? I don’t really get that and hopefully, the governor and whoever has to sign off on this will ultimately say, yeah, let’s just leave it as is.

Jeremy Enke: Yeah, hopefully we’ll get some clarity on Saturday. And I mean, it’s like you said it’s Illinois. So, who knows what’s going to happen.

Ryan Knuppel: That’s crazy. So, let’s talk about some other states. Any other states that you see maybe that aren’t legal yet that are starting to kind of form or blossom? Or maybe that you’re working with currently?

Jeremy Enke: Yeah, I think Ohio is an interesting one, I think Ohio is ready to go. They just have an issue right there, now they can’t decide who wants to regulate it, if it’s going to be the lottery or the state. That’s an interesting one. And I’m looking forward to hopefully seeing Ohio open up, I think Michigan is going to be live. And I’ll tell you, Ryan, one of the crazy things that I think if I think back to all these years, if I would have

ever thought of all these states regulating, I would have seen online poker, you know what I mean? I would have envisioned online poker because it has been there since we were new in the industry. Oh, it’s a skill game. It’s legal, it’s not gambling. But now, it’s all sports betting. And I’ll be honest, sports betting, some people do it as a skill. Not me, man. I’m like, throw money at a game because I’m watching it, and it’s crazy that there’s no poker and even to lesser extent online casino, there’s only a few states that have a casino.

Ryan Knuppel: Sports betting kind of jumped those industries somehow here in the United States and I’m not real sure how. But yeah, you’re right, in poker there’s been talk for years, and then all of a sudden, it’s like wait now sports betting legal but poker’s not. I can’t keep it all straight. What’s your thought on this? So, the United States, obviously going state by state makes it very difficult to keep up with the laws and understand who does what. So, why didn’t we do this at a country level? And why is that so difficult for our country to just kind of come together and say, yeah, it’s legal now and let’s just make it across the board? Why is that difficult? And will it ever happen that way?

Jeremy Enke: I don’t know if it ever will. I mean, the problem is you’ve got states like Utah and places that are so against gambling and everything else. So, I don’t know if you’d be able to strong arm some certain individual states. But I mean, what I would love to see happen is some sort of a federal law but if states want to opt out, they can opt out.

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, that that would be awesome. And that would make it so much easier, you know, because I know when I speak a lot of times, I speak from an affiliate mindset. Because we work with a lot of affiliates and things like that, but it’s just such a tedious process to get your state by state licenses and to just deal with all the different regulations and rules, and then everything going on in all these states. And then just think about it from a website perspective, putting up ads and things like that, you’re trying to talk to all these people, and there’s different messages for different states and different codes and different all of this, that you have to somehow make sense of on your site that the reader understands, right? It’s a mess

Jeremy Enke: You bring up a really good point about all the different states and having to get, like New Jersey is a little bit different in how you have to get your vendors permit. Illinois for example, you don’t have to do anything right now. But then I want to say Indiana, it’s like $500 or $1000, you have to pay. So, what it’s really doing is squeezing the smaller affiliates out of the game. I mean, you look back to the early 2000s and there were thousands of affiliates and now there’s a lot of big media corporations that control 1000 different websites. And of course, being the big companies like that they can afford to have attorneys and afford to have people researching every state getting licensed. And if you’re just new to the game and you want to be a US regulated affiliate, man, it’s tough. I feel for people trying to do that.

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, for sure. So, what about sports right now? Let alone betting. Well, we got sports we got lots of things going on. We got NBA Playoffs going, we finally got football back. You enjoying any of this action? Baseball’s I guess, kind of winding down here season wise. Are you into it? Are you still able to really enjoy it even though it’s all on different schedules now?

Jeremy Enke: Yeah. I watch a Cubs game every night. My wife is finally just like, really again? Like yeah. I mean I’m a huge Cubs fan so I watched that and obviously the Bears so you know you can’t go wrong.

Ryan Knuppel: That comeback. That Week 1 comeback. The Bears looked good in that comeback. They looked good for like half a quarter. I was like, what in the world?

Jeremy Enke: Yeah, but what is really disheartening is to watch Patrick Mahomes and realize he could have been on the Chicago Bears.

Ryan Knuppel: Oh, yeah, I totally forgot about that. Yeah. Wow. He’s pretty dang good.

Jeremy Enke: That’s craziness, man.

Ryan Knuppel: Well good, man. So, as you guys can see, listeners can see, Jeremy knows what he’s talking about. Jeremy’s been around this space for a long time, starting to get into consulting here with regulated companies and things like that. If anybody wanted to talk to you, get a hold of you, chat with you, informally or formally, how would they do that?

Jeremy Enke: Yeah, just send me an email. [email protected]

Ryan Knuppel: Awesome.

Jeremy Enke: It’s pretty easy. You just Google my name, you’ll find me somewhere on the internet.

Ryan Knuppel: Okay, I don’t know.

Jeremy Enke: No more bad. No more bad.

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, that’s always a risky proposition to say go Google my name. You never know what’s going to show up. Well, cool. Well, Jeremy, really appreciate you being here. Any last words? Anything you want to chat about before we get off here?

Jeremy Enke: No, this was cool. It was cool to catch up with you. And, I just think it’s going to be super exciting here in the next couple years as all these new states come online and to see how the overall industry really matures with multiple states in the market.

Ryan Knuppel: I know one thing I wanted to run by you before I get you off the line here. So, where is the paid or premium pick space going? Because that’s one of these spaces that has always been around and has always been treated as kind of like a tout area, right, you know, the touts out there. Now you’re starting to see a lot of data back services pop up, because data is the big thing right now. And so, trends and data all formulating these picks. Where’s the space going to go in the next five years here in the United States especially?

Jeremy Enke: That’s a really interesting topic you bring up. I’m actually consulting for a company right now that do that. But they consider it sports investing, and not necessarily just selling picks. And we’re seeing a lot of that, and it’s data driven, and everybody has different systems. But I will say one thing, as I’ve done research in that space, and I’ve been working in that space, there’s good characters and bad characters. So, I think a lot of bad characters are going to have to get flushed out. I see in the future, it’s all going to be more data driven and analytical versus just a guy saying, hey, buy my picks for $20.

Ryan Knuppel: But at the end of the day, I mean, it’s all about marketing, right? It’s still all about marketing because you can be the best handicapper in the world and be churning out pick after pick, but you’ve got to be able to convince the readers and the listeners and everybody that I’m better than these other thousand sites out there. It’s still all just marketing at this point and it’s tough to weed out the true marketing, from the touts, from the false stuff, and it’s a very tough space. I was curious what your thoughts were just on that whole space and

Jeremy Enke: I think at the end of the day and the results really speak for themselves. Whether you’re selling pics, through data or however you’re doing it, you have to show your results if you want to have credibility in that space

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, cool. Well that’s just one of the many areas of this whole legalization of sports betting that I know is starting to boom is that pics area and, man, there’s a lot going on. So, Jeremy, I definitely appreciate you being here. It was great to catch up with you. Hopefully we can get together, maybe you get down to Florida someday if we can ever travel, right? Get down to Florida.  How about Tampa, Super Bowl weekend you come down and we’ll go hang out in Tampa? They’re in Tampa this year for the Super Bowl.

Jeremy Enke: Yeah, come down to Tampa for the Bears Super Bowl game, that’ll be great.

Ryan Knuppel: There you go. Bears and…I don’t know who’s going to be on the other side.

Jeremy Enke: Who knows man.

Ryan Knuppel: It’s going to be crazy. So awesome Jeremy, thanks for being here. Everyone this was Jeremy Enke, long time veteran, a friend of mine. Again, like I said, I owe a lot to you that you don’t even know for me being in this industry. So, thanks, I would consider you a pioneer in this space.

Jeremy Enke: Thank you.

Ryan Knuppel: Thanks for listening, everybody. Until next time, stay safe and we will talk soon. All right, by-bye everybody.

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