IGC Tackles Casino Spam and Other Advertising Issues
By maddy
VANCOUVER, British Columbia, June 16, 2004 -- In an effort to reduce spam and promote reputable business practices, the Interactive Gaming Council (IGC, www.igcouncil.org) today announced an updated Advertising Code of Practice for member casino operators and software developers.

“It’s a sad fact that Internet casinos and sports books are, knowingly or unknowingly, responsible for contributing to the spam problem, ” said Rick Smith, executive director of the IGC. “Spam often originates from a third-party marketing company or affiliate rather than the gaming operator, but regardless of the source, spam needlessly alienates many consumers who would otherwise bear no ill will to online gaming.

According to Smith, spam from gaming sites also provides fertile ground for U.S. Senator Jon Kyl and his allies to continue their misguided attempts to prohibit online gaming.

The IGC’s board of directors, at its meeting in Toronto last month, unanimously approved an amended Advertising Code of Practice. The Code warns against unsolicited advertising, including spam and pop-up advertisements.

“As a voluntary trade organization,” Smith noted, “we have little by way of formal sanction available to force members to stop spamming. And of course there are many online gaming sites and portals that are not members of the IGC and that are involved with this practice. But when we formally declare that spamming is not an acceptable business practice, we send a powerful message throughout the industry. The Code is the first step toward an international industry standard. Until such a standard is widely adopted, the IGC will continue to lead by example.”

IGC members, by the nature of their business, and the customers who play at the members’ sites, by the nature of their choice in entertainment, are heavy Internet users. “We all see first-hand how spam impacts the enjoyment and usefulness of the Internet,” said Keith Furlong, deputy director of the IGC. “The responsible segment of the online gaming industry can do its part to curtail this loathsome activity by cleaning up its own act.”

In addition to spam, the Advertising Code of Practice covers other issues relevant to the operation of an online business in a responsible manner; for example, adherence to privacy and data protection requirements. The Code states that advertising should not be false or misleading, especially with regard to the odds of winning, should be in good taste and should not focus on minors or be displayed at sites frequented by minors. The Web site should contain the name and address of the operator, contact information for complaints, and accurate information about the jurisdiction and gaming license under which the site operates.

“Adoption of this Code is another example of the IGC’s commitment to high standards and industry self-regulation,” Furlong said. “But enforcement of these policies really requires regulation by governmental jurisdictions. If the government licensed and regulated this industry, it would be in a position to force an operator, for example, to stop spamming or to make the proper disclosures on its Web site. In most of the world’s land-based gaming jurisdictions, governmental regulators ensure that casinos behave properly. That’s the way things should work in cyber space.”

That is one reason the IGC opposes U.S. prohibition legislation like the “Unlawful Internet Gambling Funding Prohibition Act.” Not only does the bill intrude on the rights of states to regulate gaming, and establish banks as Internet police, it abdicates the duty of government to regulate gaming for the protection of citizens.

During this 108th Congress, Sen. Kyl has come closer than ever before in his quixotic quest to prohibit offshore online gaming. At the same time, he has criticized the World Trade Organization for what he calls an attempt to impose another entity’s will on the U.S. The House of Representatives passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Funding Prohibition Act and the Senate Banking Committee approved a similar bill that Kyl introduced. But the full Senate has been busy working on other issues and has not acted on the Kyl bill.

“We’re taking steps to improve our industry’s practices,” said Sue Schneider, chair of the IGC, “and we can only hope that by the time the full Senate considers the Kyl bill, enough Senators will realize the futility of prohibition and permit interested states to license and regulate this form of gaming.”

The complete text of the Advertising Code of Practice is posted on the IGC’s Web site at http://www.igcouncil.org/read_news.php?id=15.

About the IGC

Formed in 1996, the IGC is the leading trade association for the international interactive gambling industry with its membership operating or supplying services to most of the reputable interactive sites on the World Wide Web. Based in Vancouver, Canada, the IGC champions fair and honest interactive gambling environments. To help parents protect their children, IGC members are encouraged to participate in the self-labeling system of the Internet Content Rating Association. The IGC has developed a Code of Conduct for members, and a program called Helping Hand to assist problem gamblers.

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