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Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance - eCOGRA
is the non-profit eCommerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance standard
for the online gambling industry, whose primary objective is to foster player
protection. eCOGRA is, without question, the most respected and longstanding,
independent purveyor of online gaming fairness and international protection
standards currently in operation. Organized in April of 2003 by pioneering
leaders of the online casino industry, including Microgaming Software, eCOGRA
invites all online casino operators to apply for their "Play it Safe Seal",
which entails that operators be in compliance on several fronts, including fair
games, fair treatment, timely payouts, and overall responsible behavior.
Continual compliance by approved sites is insured by using the latest in
technological applications (explained in detail under the "Fairness
Verification" section of this review).
Read our eCOGRA updates:
Global Online Gambler Survey
TGTR Raises Online Casino Fairness Standards
Our Favorite eCOGRA
Considering their Board members' important roles in helping the United Kingdom,
Kahnawake Gaming Commission and Antigua establish governmental guidelines for
regulating online gambling sites, eCOGRA has a right to claim they are the
standard in fair online gaming standards. "Honesty, Integrity, Transparency" is
eCOGRA's slogan, which is backed with player mediation services and a Fair
Gaming Advocate who will act as a representative voice for individual player's
seeking dispute mediation with eCOGRA certified casinos. To get an idea of how
effective eCOGRA is, from January through August of 2006, the average number of
disputes received by per approved site (112 sites at the time of this review)
per month was only .1. Players are advised to look for the eCOGRA "Play it Safe"
Seal, which is only awarded to those online casinos who meet eCOGRA's Generally
eCOGRA is managed by an
elite team of non-executive and independent Directors with extensive experience
in the online gambling and brick 'n mortar casino gambling industries, and has
been overseen by Chief Executive Office, Andrew Beveridge, since its
inception. Beveridge is a qualified Chartered Accountant in London and Hong
Kong, and holds an MBA from Edinburgh University. Beveridge's experience in the
online world began when he served in a key position to help start South Africa's
leading Internet Service Provider, MWeb. Beveridge then went on to spearhead
global business development for International Gaming Networks (IGN) and helped
oversee interactive gaming technology for internet and television applications.
He later implemented risk management controls for sports betting operations at
MultiChoice, which later became the first licensed online gambling organization
in South Africa. Before coming to eCOGRA, Beveridge managed the world's first
integrated online and telephone sports betting platform, LiveBet Online.
at eCOGRA include Anders Lantz, who is the Chief Security Officer at Ongame
e-Solutions and a Certified Information Systems Auditor, which has lent Anders
tremendous experience in IT security, compliance testing and auditing. Other
Non-executive Directors include Chartered Accountant and CEO of Microgaming
Software, Roger Raatgever, current CEO of 888.com and former CEO of the Burford
Group and Board Director for Ladbrokes (26 years), John Anderson.
who are solely responsible for determining which software providers and casino
operators are awarded the eCOGRA "Play it Safe" Seal, include an impressive
lineup of three highly respected and recognizable individuals in the gaming and
legal fields. Bill Galston is a retired Chief Inspector of Great Britain's
Gaming Board and the former Head of the UK Board Inspectorate for twenty-five
years, during which time he oversaw gaming investigations, compliance, and
regulation. Galston is a Chairman of the Gaming Compliance Committees in
Britain, Vice President of GamCare (a national center devoted to studying the
social impact of gambling), past Chairman for the International Association of
Gaming Regulators, and was a specialist advisor to the Sport Parliamentary
Select Committee and UK Department of Culture. Lastly, Galston is an appointed
Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his services and achievements in
Michael Hirst and Mr.
Frank Catania make up the triumvirate of independent directors - both of whom
bring several years experience in the gaming field to eCOGRA. Hirst currently
provides strategic development for gaming software and companies, and is a
former board member of Ladbrokes and CEO of Hilton International. Catania is a
consultant and attorney with emphasis in the gaming industry. He is a former
Assistant Attorney General, Director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming
Enforcement, First President of the International Masters of Gaming Law,
Chairman of the International Association of Gaming Regulators, and Chairman for
the Forum of American Casino Regulators. One of Catania's greatest contributions
to online gambling regulation was his instrumental position in drafting gambling
regulations for the Antigua government and the Kahnawake Gaming Commission.
As mentioned earlier,
eCOGRA certified casinos rarely are at the heart of disputes (.1 dispute per
certified site per month in 2006). However, when a dispute does arise, eCOGRA is
pleased to offer personal mediation services and assistance to players who have
already attempted to resolve the dispute themselves. Mediator, Tex Rees, has
over fifteen years experience in the gaming industry, handling customer
relations and establishing customer care protocols. Prior to working at eCOGRA,
Rees was Customer Relations Manager at LiveBet Online and Call Center Staff
Manager at SuperBet, where she managed customer dispute resolution. At eCOGRA,
Rees personally resolves the majority of disputes within forty-eight hours.
Players are advised to read over the measures posted on eCOGRA's website, which
they should take before engaging mediation services. If the dispute is not
resolved after doing so, then players should contact dispute resolution services
at eCOGRA, according to their posted guidelines for doing so.
Generally Accepted Practices at eCOGRA (referred to as eGAP), are binding for
all certified online casinos and gaming sites. It is the responsibility of
eCOGRA's independent directors and audit panel (which is only comprised of
global auditing firms, such as Price Waterhouse Coopers), to insure that
operators are continually complying with the eGAP. Binding adherence in the
areas of player protection, fair gaming and responsible conduct is mandatory.
Player protection protocols include safeguarding player information, account
balances, imposing minimum security requirements and information protection, and
insuring all financial transactions are securitized and payments are received.
Fair gaming protocols include properly maintaining software and server
connectivity, submitting to gaming transaction reviews and monthly payout
verification, implementing disaster recovery protocols, protecting against
platform malfunctions and maintaining minimum casino game standards. Responsible
Conduct practices include the prevention of money laundering and imposing of
anti-money laundering guidelines, advertising and marketing in a responsible
manner, and submission to probity checks.
is where the "proof is in the pudding", so to speak. In order to not overwhelm
you with a discourse of technical jargon that sounds good and well, but makes
absolutely no sense, we shall explain the format of how eCOGRA determines
initial and ongoing compliance with their Generally Accepted Practices. Fairness
verification is contingent upon the expertise and competence of eCOGRA's audit
panel, which is made up of independent financial firms of international repute,
such as Price Waterhouse Coopers. The findings of these firms are reported to
eCOGRA's Board, who then verify whether the findings are in accordance with the
eGAP, and if so, consequently award the "Play it Safe" Seal. One reason for
conducting their verification procedure in this manner is that the use of
independent auditors insures unbiased results. Furthermore, eCOGRA's Generally
Accepted Practices pertain to the software providers themselves, who must also
be in compliance with fair gaming protocols. In other words, if the software is
not fair to begin with, the online casino will not be a fair place to wager. As
such, a large degree of on-site verification is done with the software provider.
The type of testing
advocated by eCOGRA is called Total Gaming Transaction Review (TGTR). It is a
superior testing system insuring that all security and fairness protocols
imbedded in the software itself has been properly running for a reasonable
period of time. Instead of testing the source code of the software, which is how
land-based gambling machines are tested, TGTR testing takes into consideration
the operating system as a whole, and tests each and every transaction made with
the gaming server. Source code testing works in the land-based industry, for
when a machine's EPROM chip is in place, it cannot be changed. Online gaming
servers, however, operate much differently. In addition to housing the Random
Number Generator, which insures fair and random gaming results, the server is
responsible for routing millions of messages in real time. This alone entails
that the software provider have round-the-clock access to its operating system.
As such, there would be nothing to prevent the operator from replacing the
source code and propagating unfair gaming. TGTR testing, however, allows
continual monitoring of both the input and output of the software system. In
order to verify payout percentages, all transactions with the server must be
properly recorded. TGTR allows for spot testing of transactions in addition to
verifying all completed transactions. Combined with data summary analysis and
continual, rigorous statistical testing of the software itself, the integrity of
the RNG and corresponding payout percentages is confirmed.
eCOGRA can be contacted through several mediums.
Their headquarters and mailing address is located at: eCOGRA Limited, 2nd
Floor, Berkeley Square House, Berkeley Square, London, W1J 6BD, United
Kingdom. Telephone contact is at: +44 20 7887 1480 (1481 Fax), and all emails
should be directed to: info @ ecogra.org. Dispute resolution forms may
be obtained on their website, which should be carefully read over before
submitting a claim.