|February 19, 2004 — Kahnawake, Canada – The Trident group of top-end online casinos is among the first four operations awarded the much sought after e-Commerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance (eCOGRA) seal of quality this week. |
Months of rigorous on-site testing by financial and professional services teams from international audit group PricewaterhouseCoopers preceded the award, which has been compared to an International Standards Organisation listing.
'The inspectors were on our premises for long periods, carrying out extensive probity and financial checks on both company and management, and conducting practical examination and testing on everything from our Support facilities and staff to accounting practices and technical equipment. It was tough but worth it in the end,' says Trident spokesman Scott Gaines.
eCOGRA insists on the inspections, which cover every aspect of a casino applicant's operations to ensure that these are in compliance with strict standards laid down in the Generally Accepted Practices of the Association.
These have been drafted by international evaluation and compliance experts to address player protection, fair gaming and responsible operator conduct, and test player protection policies, technical capabilities and anti-money laundering measures.
Congratulating the first successful seal holders, eCOGRA chief executive officer Andrew Beveridge said that the seal is designed to clearly identify reputable and honest gambling venues for the online gambler.
'Successful applicants are required to be software licensees of an eCOGRA member, and these companies too have to meet stringent requirements regarding their products,' he said.
Beveridge says that the primary goal is the protection of the player by requiring the operators to commit to ensuring that the games are fair, the player will be paid in a timely manner and treated fairly and with respect, and that the operator will behave in a responsible manner.
'Our goal is to prove that responsible companies are involved in online gambling and to make them readily identifiable to both consumers and gambling authorities', he said.
'We intend that the eCOGRA seal will become the benchmark 'gold' standard - an instant indicator to the player that the site has been proven to offer a fair and efficient gambling experience'.
The international financial services group PricewaterhouseCoopers is involved in eCOGRA as a member of the Audit Panel. Apart from initial and ongoing examinations and inspections on casinos awarded the seal, the organisation's independent Total Gaming Transactions Review (TGTR) system is used as an outcomes based verification on software fairness. TGTR works with raw data from every single gaming transaction at a casino, which is directed live to a dedicated server. Specially designed analytical software then balances, crosschecks and trends the information to arrive at a zero balance and an accurate monthly payout percentage.
eCOGRA is a well-funded, independent, non-profit organisation with offices and a permanent staff based in London.
The organisation was initially founded and financed by Microgaming Software Systems and Virtual Holdings, the owner / operators of Casino On Net who each have a representative on the board. Other directors are highly experienced and distinguished executives from the international gambling industry, and the board is structured such that independent directors' votes control it to ensure autonomy from software companies and operators.
The objective of the Association is to ensure efficient online casino (and shortly poker room) operations to high standards of fairness and integrity, leading to genuine player protection so that players may be assured that eCOGRA operators have demonstrated that they are honest, games are fair, monetary deposits are safe and payouts are timely.
In order to distinguish casinos committed to these ideals, a rigorous evaluation and inspection system has been designed, culminating in the successful casino applicant receiving an eCOGRA seal.
Directors include: Chief Executive Andrew Beveridge; independent directors Michael Hirst OBE (chairman and formerly a top executive with the Hilton Group and UK's Business Tourism Partnership); Bill Galston (former chief inspector of the Gaming Board for Great Britain) and Frank Catania (a former Assistant Attorney General for the State of New Jersey and Director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement) Other directors are representatives of the founders, Microgaming and Virtual Holdings.