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eCOGRA exposed: reputable portals? Actually, link trading of the worst kind


Monday, April 19, 2010

eCOGRA exposed: reputable portals? Actually, link trading of the worst kind


From the eCOGRA homepage, click on "our services" and then "reputable portal seals" at the bottom left. You'll see the following far-reaching claim:



In seeking as wide a protection for the player as possible, eCOGRA has identified a number of reputable portals where we are confident that players can benefit from the integrity and quality of the content, and the commitment to fair play and customer service of the portalmaster.

eCOGRA has a policy that permits linking with professional and integrity driven online gambling webmasters who share the organisation's player protective ideals and objectives for honest and ethical conduct in the industry.



Now click on the A to Z listing option, and let's take a look at the portal with pride of place at the head of eCOGRA's list of quality gambling sites where "players can benefit from the integrity and quality of the content" - #1 Casino Portal.


At first glance, the site appears to be primarily full of casino links and bonus offerings, not exactly the "quality content" that eCOGRA tells us is the case in their marketing statement.


However, there may be more to it than initially meets the eye - down the left side we see standard contents links, including such potentially encouraging titles as "how to play" and "rules".

So let's click on "how to play"...


1 Casino Portal


...and see what happens.


We are immediately transported to a casino, Spin Palace, replete with download link.


Hmm. Maybe a mistake - shouldn't that be an internal site information link?


So let's click another one: "strategies", then "fibonacci":


1 Casino Portal


Same result, a link through to a casino. No mistake.


In fact, all those menu links, which by website norm should be internal navigation links to other pages within the site for informational purposes, and will certainly be taken as such by the casual web surfer, are in fact external affiliate links to casinos.


In other words, deceptive and not especially ethical. There are in fact no information links on this site, just affiliate banners and text links to various casinos which masquerade as site navigation links in the menu.


I'm confused at this point. According to the eCOGRA marketing blurb, this is a "reputable portal", where eCOGRA is...



...confident that players can benefit from the integrity and quality of the content, and the commitment to fair play and customer service of the portalmaster.



This on a site consisting of affiliate banners, deceptive text links and nothing else?


I then bypassed the next two, as they're the same as the first, and clicked on the fourth link, "10 Best Online Casinos".



10 Best Online Casinos



The site appears to have disappeared - possibly a blessing in disguise.

eCOGRA doesn't seem to spend too much time checking its "reputable portal" list.


So what is going on here? Is there a reason why of the top the four sites, three use deceitful advertising techniques and the fourth doesn't even exist?


The answer may lie on the Reputable portals information page - see the very last criterion on the list:



Reciprocal recognition of eCOGRA on the linked portal site is required, with eCOGRA seals displayed alongside approved gambling sites, and the Reputable Portal Seal linking through to a certificate providing a brief overview of eCOGRA (to be supplied by eCOGRA).



This explains it. eCOGRA requires that the "reputable portal" provide information and, essentially, advertising, for eCOGRA in exchange for inclusion on the list. In other words: link-trading.


Surely, if the portal provides quality information, eCOGRA would want it on their site with no conditions attached, given that it would represent the same apparent ideals to which eCOGRA itself holds dear?


In fact, you'd think they would do the same as the highly-regarded Michael "Wizard Of Odds" Shackleford - see his recommended sites page:



I hand-picked these sites to share resources which I feel are truly outstanding. This is not the kind of free-for-all list of worthless sites that you typically see elsewhere.

I don't trade links. I picked the sites below because they're quality sites, not because they might link back here. I won't link to low-quality sites just because they might give me a link back.

How to get a link. You can't get your site listed here. I don't trade links, I don't sell links, and I don't accept suggestions for additions, because when I did that I was inundated with suggestions for worthless sites. If I run across your site on our own, and I like it, then I'll list it here.



Michael Shackleford uses all the right, ethical and honest criteria for listing sites. He doesn't require links in exchange, and he offers the links for free on the basis of the intrinsic worth of the sites themselves. Exactly as it should be.

I'm also quite proud to say that this site figures on Michael's recommended page - see the "internet gambling" section.


All of that is the absolute direct opposite of eCOGRA's ethically-challenged marketing exercise of link-trading of the worst kind - and this IS the "worst kind" of link trading, because it masquerades as something it is not.


Maybe I can re-write the eCOGRA advertising pitch I quoted at the top into something more appropriate:


Agree to place our stamp on your site, and we'll list your site on ours



I think that about sums it up.



1 Previous Comments


Yet another excellent article. I operate an "eCOGRA Approved Portal" after initially thinking "about time someone separated the chaff rogue portals from the wheat". I was disillusioned to find that the approval process appeared to be as strenuous as placing an eCOGRA Tick from a template eCOGRA "You Have Been Approved" email on my site.

6 months later, I'm yet to appear on the 'prestigious' Approved Portal List. I would chase up my site's non-inclusion but that would imply that I value placement on such a list - and I most certainly do not.

I would estimate 80 or 90% of those portals are rogue in some way.

By Blogger 1540564456, at 3:02 pm  


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