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Safety at the online casinos and eCOGRA

A website might look great, sound great, claim to be great and be recommended by enthusiastic but commission-based sites awash with banner ads and inviting links, but we would prefer to be guided by more independent opinion.

 Obviously there are numerous factors to be taken into consideration before parting with our cash, certain pros and cons can be interpreted in different ways and, as we have seen, one potential customer's criteria might well be quite unlike another's. Moreover, other than the fairly fundamental things to look out for there are some key issues and features regarding online gambling sites that we either undervalue or even fail to appreciate but that experts in various aspects of the industry believe to be of considerable importance. With this in mind it is reassuring that the explosion of internet gambling and the accompanying flood of sites we are now exposed to has prompted the setting up of organizations aimed at placing a growing number of the would-be bigger online gambling operators under the microscope.

 One such body that is a welcome arrival to the vast world of online gambling is eCOGRA, the acronym standing for eCommerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance. This is an independent, non-profit organization designed specifically to protect us internet players by imposing strict operating rules - known as eGAP or eCOGRA Generally Accepted Practices - on its members.

 We should remember that with sites based in numerous countries that have quite diverse laws and regulations, it is (thus far) impossible to actually police internet gambling firms worldwide, but this does not preclude the possibility that these companies can voluntarily abide by the strict player-friendly 'rules' of a well respected regulatory body that, to some extent, assumes a policing role.

 Just as it is imperative for reputable businesses such as travel agents or global superstores to sign up to the rules of relevant standards commissions and so on (thereby committing themselves to specific requirements and trading methods), it is equally important for those who run internet gambling sites with a view to carving out a healthy share of the market and establishing a solid, long-term client base to be associated with an organization such as eCOGRA.

 Displaying a willingness to adhere to certain requirements and methods of conducting business as well as being prepared to have the site come under the scrutiny of a team of independent inspectors induces confidence in clients. Satisfied players can lead only to better business, so eCOGRA is a win-win situation for both players and the casinos that meet the organization’s requirements to a level that justifies the eCOGRA Seal. Having seen so many gushing 'in-house' awards plastered over so many gambling sites it is easy to be suspicious of a site being afforded an official seal of integrity and standard but, in this case at least, the requirements for approval are detailed and strict and devised with the player in mind.

 Applicants are required to implement a detailed list of eGAP requirements covering every player-sensitive area of operations. This includes informed and contactable Support, tough Accounting and financial requirements to ensure fast payouts, dispute resolution systems and a host of other services regarded as necessary for a casino to operate effectively. When the applicant is confident that eGAP is in place inspection teams consisting of qualified and independent professionals are brought in for verification (or to point out necessary actions) using the proprietary outcomes testing procedure developed by PricewaterhouseCoopers, a large, internationally respected professional services group. Known as the Total Gaming Transaction Review, the system uses sophisticated analysis techniques to review every single gaming transaction at casinos bearing the eCOGRA Seal. Anomalies will automatically trigger further examination.

 Those casinos that pass the inspection are awarded the Seal and are required to display this prominently on-site, the process continuing with a variety of ongoing methods being used by the organization to monitor operations. Additionally, applicant casinos must use software from providers that have themselves been rigorously tested for probity, games fairness and solid backend capability by eCOGRA contracted teams.


Published on 08/12/2007

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