Following a management buy out that sees all former links with its online gambling related founders severed, eCOGRA becomes a truly independent standards body at last.
Since the beginning of the upward surge of Internet gambling that saw casino websites popping up everywhere you looked, a small team of leaders of the then fledgling industry got together to form a standards body that would provide users with some much needed protection from less than honourable operators. That body was called eCOGRA, which stands for eCommerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance and it was created by founders Bwin, Microgaming and 888 Holdings.
Over the years since its creation, eCOGRA’s independent position has been demonstrated in its auditing of online casinos, their software and operating standards and in granting approval of those that met its stringent qualifications. Despite its position as independent auditor and upholder of high gaming standards, there have been questions raised concerning its true independent position with regard to its founders and owners.
However, these questions will no longer need to be asked as eCOGRA have severed those ties with its founders in a management buy out led by Andrew Beveridge, the company’s Chief Executive Officer and approved by the founders. This will allow the company to be its own creator of long term decisions over strategy and policy. All independent directors that were on board previous to the buy out are to be retained in their function on eCOGRA’s new board, which will include Michael Hirst as chairman. Other board members will include former head of audit company BDO gaming services, Bill Henbrey, former Gaming Board for Great Britain Chief Inspector, Bill Galston and former New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement director, Frank Catania.
According to Hirst, the original mandate put together by eCOGRA’s independent directors was to the continual improvement the industry’s credibility and to ensure that players were fully protected while developing appropriate regulation and standards. He added that these basic principles continue to remain the goal while increasing competitive commercial activity.
The operational structure and services provided by eCOGRA would also remain unchanged, according to Beveridge, including mediation in player disputes through their Fair Gaming Advocate. The current operator assessment system that awards their Safe and Fair seal along with the subsequent activity for reviewing and monitoring will also remain.
The TGTR, which is an outcomes-based system for monitoring software, will expand, especially in the case of non-accredited entities. Greater importance will be placed on the commercial services that are currently offered such as the professional business services along with advisory consulting. Beveridge added that this industry is maturing and eCOGRA is an integral part of this.