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eCOGRA exposed: the independent standards authority of the online gambling industry...or maybe it isn't


Monday, April 19, 2010

eCOGRA exposed: the independent standards authority of the online gambling industry...or maybe it isn't


eCOGRA, an online gambling marketing organisation originally established by software suppliers Microgaming and Cassava, lays claim to some impressive credentials. Most notably the one appearing in bold text at the top of the homepage:


eCOGRA is the independent standards authority of the online gaming industry.


That's an impressive claim: not only is this organisation independent, but it is unique, the only one of its kind, somehow appointed by "the online gambling industry" to alone fly the flag of standards, integrity and fairness.


Furthmore, on the about us page, they push the independence angle a bit further:


Our independence


Independent Directors are solely responsible for determining which software developers are admitted as eCOGRA members, and which operators qualify for the eCOGRA Seal.


So, good stuff.

But is it true?


Actually, the claim for independence and uniqueness crumbles away at the most cursory examination.


Oddly, it's the proof of independence page which hints at where the problem lies:



All decisions regarding how casinos and poker rooms are tested and who gets the Seals fall under the control of the four independent directors on the Board.

This is clearly set out in the company's constitution. These are all eminent and well-qualified and experienced professional men. Most important of all - they are all independent of the funding entities.



"Funding entities".

Who are these funding entities? It's mentioned nowhere on the site - and maybe this isn't so surprising.

The funding entities of eCOGRA are those same software companies whose casinos eCOGRA signs off as "safe and fair".


It really makes no difference whether the decision making comes from industry insiders, Donald Duck or The Flintstones. You cannot be independent as an overseer / regulator while your salaries come from those same entities you regulate.


But does it work, warts and all? If it does work, then it really matters little where the funding comes from.


So let's take a look at the independent directors in action:


In 2006, the Jackpot Factory Microgaming casino group ran one of the most ethically-challenged marketing campaigns ever seen, in which they targetted the old, bereaved and terminally ill - you can read blow-by-blow reports on this in the Winneronline and Casinomeister dicussions.

Here is one of Jackpot Factory's best efforts - why slots are good for the elderly and ill:



Multi-Line Slots Can Improve Arthritis

The Foundation for Arthritis Prevention has recently announced that certain games can help reduce the worsening and spread of arthritis.

Multi-Line Slots For the Elderly

The Foundation also announced that it encourages the elderly to play multi-line slots and the other games listed because this will help not only improve the condition of those people with arthritis, but multi-line slots might even help prevent the occurrence of arthritis in later life.

The Foundation stated that multi-line slots was not a game which was too confusing and that the elderly would be able to pick it up quite easily without major hassles.



There were many other such examples.

Their actions were roundly condemned, and the eCOGRA seals were removed.

But only temporarily.


The independent directors carried out an investigation. This turned out to be little more than a whitewash, and the Jackpot Factory "play it safe" seals were back up very quickly - you can read my eCOGRA and Jackpot Factory article for full details on their report.


Just once were the eCOGRA independent directors called upon to act. And just once they failed.


In fairness, even those regulatory entities which are theoretically impartial, governmental bodies such as the Malta LGA or the Aldeney AGCC, have been found seriously wanting in the player protection department. But crucially, the funding of those bodies does not come from the gambling operations they license. The casinos pay a fee, but the regulators themselves are publically funded, which gives them at least a degree of theoretical autonomy.


So: is eCOGRA "the independent standards authority of the online gambling industry"?


Not really.

At least, not by my understanding of the word "independent".



1 Previous Comments


Interesting points , I will how ever add that micro gaming defy probable outcome in there poker room and E Cogra fail to show any test results after many requests.

Alderney gaming commission who regulate LOL JOKE poker stars also fail to close a loop hole in there regs that allows manipulation of expected outcome. The whole online poker industry runs free from ant serious regulation and cheats there deals to create action any way they please. Do not be fooled online poker is rigged.

By Anonymous v Rice, at 11:14 pm  


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