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Grand Prive affiliates and eCOGRA: follow-up from the chaos resulting from the audit

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Grand Prive affiliates and eCOGRA: follow-up from the chaos resulting from the audit

This article follows on from my most recent Grand Prive affiliate issue comments of six days ago.

To sum up the recent events: after eCOGRA issued its findings on their audit of the Grand Prive affiliate programme, there was general outrage from all involved parties on the basis of the derisory amounts of compensation that were offered. It turned out that the most likely reason for this was the existence of a previous affiliate programme, one Referspot, whose accounts had not been examined and from which the majority of the affiliate earnings had been generated.

eCOGRA CEO Andrew Beveridge responded thus to a query from the owner of the GPWA affiliate organisation:

We have noted your concern raised as to the adequacy of the settlement amount recommended by the eCOGRA investigators.

We would like to emphasise that our mandate from Grand Prive was to review all records provided by the company in respect of the Grand Prive Affiliate Program software and related database. We were not requested to review any other affiliate program system or information, nor were we made aware of any other system or pertinent information.

We are confident that the settlement amounts have been correctly calculated based on our mandate and the affiliate and player data provided to us by Grand Prive at the time of the review. Regrettably we cannot legally perform any further investigation work into this matter unless mandated by Grand Prive management. Such a mandate has not to date been forthcoming.

And that was that. The audit that wasn't an audit. The audit that didn't really audit anything, because there was nothing of any substance to audit.

In response, the GPWA owner had this to say, which I quote here in part:

22nd-February-2010, 05:32 PM

From my perspective Grand Prive just spat in the eye of eCOGRA. And they spat in the eye of Microgaming too.

I don't quite agree with this comment.

Grand Prive didn't spit in the eye of eCOGRA. This implies victimhood, and eCOGRA are not victims in this. eCOGRA could have set out to insist on full access. That said, if they were lied to, if data was withheld, then eCOGRA are not to blame in the first instance. But they now know the facts, and are fully conversant with the nature of the problem.

Yet, as noted in their above comments, they consider their task complete.

At this point, they are no longer blameless. They are a part of the problem. That they could only work with the data they were given is a empty excuse. You either audit everything or nothing, and less than everything is, to all intents and purposes, nothing.

If you audit only the tied bets of a casino's monthly wagering statistics, then it would appear that nobody had won or lost anything, casino and players alike. This would be pointless and misleading, but it would nonetheless be in keeping with the remit of an audit based on the premise of data provided.

This is essentially what eCOGRA has done - audited the pushes and ignored the wins and losses. And it was equally pointless.

I'm also not especially sold on the idea of Grand Prive spitting in the eye of Microgaming. A child can spit in a parent's eye, but this is a rather futile gesture of disobedience, as the parent holds the ultimate power and the child is unlikely to emerge happily from the act. Much the same goes for a licensee of a software provider - the provider holds all the keys.

Microgaming and eCOGRA have not been disrespected by Grand Prive, because Grand Prive is simply in no position to do so. Microgaming can, at any time, revoke the casino group's license, and eCOGRA can, at any time, revoke their "play it safe" seal.

They have all the power, and Grand Prive has none.

And yet, Grand Prive is still a Microgaming licensee, in full possession of the eCOGRA "quality" seal. As such, Microgaming and eCOGRA are not victims of eCOGRA, but rather, complicit in their deception.

The GPWA boss goes on to ask:

What do you think are the odds eCOGRA and Microgaming will just wipe the spit off their eyes and pretend nothing happened over the long term?

Certainly, their subsequent reaction does determine their complicity. Am I being too hard on them? Will Microgaming pull the license, and will eCOGRA insist their "play it safe" seals be removed?

Possibly telling is a reaction from self-proclaimed player watchdog Bryan "Casinomeister" Bailey to the situation:

24th February 2010, 11:12 AM

It's pretty much clear to me that the operators of Grand Prive are the sole offenders in this unprecedented eff-up. I don't see how eCOGRA or MGS can be thrown into the same blame pit.


One can dwell on the fairness of accusing people who have been mistreated as "whining"; on the assertion that the eCOGRA audit-that-wasn't-an-audit was in fact "fair"; that eCOGRA is not to blame for sheer lack of focus; and that Microgaming is guiltless because noone has actually spoken to them about it, when in truth Microgaming has in fact specifically ducked or ignored all attempts to raise the matter with them - more on this in a later article.

But putting all that aside, you could fairly say: the above comments represent the industry position.

And as such, I suspect that the hypothesis above regarding Microgaming and eCOGRA's reaction to being ostensibly spat at, or otherwise disrespected, by Grand Prive, will prove to be correct, and the people who hold the keys to Grand Prive's office will do nothing.

To quote one more industry stalwart:

22nd-February-2010, 03:24 PM

It thus appears that Microgaming is at least a compliant party and not just an onlooker. Microgaming is perfectly able to act in favor of ethical treatment of affiliates in this case.

IMO the ball is in Microgaming's court now.

Personal observation: So much for self policing of the industry. I am not so sure I want to be part of this industry anymore.

I agree on all counts. Microgaming is complicit, but has the opportunity to act fairly. It seems unlikely they will, which will further testify to the online gambling industry's ability to police itself.

After the Kahnawake Gaming Commission's unexpected step forward in recent days, it's a shame that players regarded as such leading lights of the industry are shown up to be so inadequate.

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