|It could be argued that there are too many industry associations and watchdogs, but in the absence of regulation by the biggest market, the US, associations such as the IGC, the Online Players Association, the Internet Gaming Commission, and the Gambling Commission are all we’ve got. Yesterday, three more casinos applied to participate in the Interactive Gaming Council’s (IGC) Seal of Approval programme, which in theory gives the consumer more confidence in interactive gambling at such sites.|
The new applicants are Captain Cooks Casino, Casino Kingdom and English Harbour. Captain Cooks and Casino Kingdom are licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission and operated by Integrity Casinos Ltd. English Harbour, licensed in Antigua, is operated by EH New Ventures Inc.
Upon approval as SoA members, the new applicants will join the five original members of the SoA program - VIP Sports and VIP Soccer, operated by VIP Services and Casino Fortune, Mapau Casino and Miami Beach Casino, all operated by the Sunny Group.
All SoA agreements with the IGC require participant sites to provide fair and honest gambling environments and business practices and to implement player protection mechanisms. There is a formalized dispute resolution process, with an IGC representative acting as mediator in problems between players and gambling sites.
'To date there have been no unsatisfied complaints against the original SoA members,' said Keith Furlong, deputy director of the IGC. 'It's logical that only the best sites, ones with conscientious customer service personnel, would subject themselves to this additional review and to the dispute resolution process.'
The SoA agreement, which is subject to annual review, is the final step in the application process performed by the IGC and independent third-party experts on behalf of the IGC. When an SoA applicant is approved, its participating sites are permitted to display the Seal of Approval logo.
'Players should be especially reassured when they gamble at a site that displays the Seal of Approval,' said Rick Smith, executive director of the IGC. 'While we expect all members of the IGC to follow our Code of Conduct, SoA participants agree to abide by an even higher standard of self-compliance.'
The SoA program requires interactive gaming companies to provide additional information about their management, key staff, licensing jurisdiction, financial procedures and gambling software. The SoA includes requirements pertaining to payout procedures, posting of game odds and rules, record keeping, responses to player inquiries, protection of player data, fraud control and advertising policies.
Throughout its six-year history, the IGC has advocated government licensing and rigorous regulation of online gambling.
'It is important to note that the Seal of Approval is by no means designed to be a replacement for strict government regulation,' said Sue Schneider, Chairman of the IGC. 'Effective government regulation, in cooperation with the industry, is still the only way to move the Internet gambling industry to the next level of legitimacy.'