Self-Regulation of the Online Gaming Industry
eCogra was established in 2002 as a non-profit organisation and is the acronym for e-Commerce Online Gambling Regulation and Assurance.
Initially founded by MicroGaming and 888.com, eCogra is an independent organisation targeting fairness and compliance within the online gambling community. Its core function is establishing protocols for fair gaming and ensuring that operators adhere to these stringent standards. Online casino enterprises are subject to audits by eCogra to determine whether or not they achieve "Safe & Fair" status. Any online gambling operator bearing this seal of approval on their home page is considered to be reputable.
For an online casino to obtain an eCogra seal of approval, they need to be compliant in three major areas, including player protection, fair gaming and responsible conduct.
Player protection generally involves an assurance that all gamblers receive their winnings within an appropriate time frame. To ensure this, the casino is required to be accountable and transparent in terms of storing and providing player receipts and keeping track of wagering requirements. eCogra casinos need to clearly stipulate and define terms and conditions of use, particularly when it comes to payouts and bonus redemptions. In addition, the gaming operator needs to provide a secure platform for the protection of financial and personal information that is stored on the internet.
Fair gaming involves analysing and assuring that online casino operations are free from software manipulation. As such, casinos are required to utilise Random Number Generators to ensure that slots, cards and dice are random and are not wager or VIP dependent. Inclusive to this requirement, is that all operators operate within appropriate connectivity parameters, and that they have the relevant back-up mechanisms and disaster recovery systems to remedy faults.
Some of eCogra's more broader assessments with regard to online gambling organisations are covered by the Responsible Conduct analyses. One of their major considerations is the ability of the online casino operator to prevent money laundering through a series of controls. The need for this arose following the enactment of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA), aimed at the prevention of terrorist related money laundering. Other concerns for responsible conduct include on-site advertising that is truthful, as well as assistance to problem gamblers.
Whilst eCogra is primarily involved in setting and maintaining industry standards, it also acts as an intermediary in dispute resolutions between operators and gamblers, and any queries or complaints regarding an eCogra approved casino can be forwarded to them at www.ecogra.org