The London-based player protection and standards body eCOGRA has undergone a change in ownership following a successful management buy-out (MBO) initiative led by chief executive Andrew Beveridge.
The organisation announced this week that the original Founding Members of eCOGRA, three major and competing online gambling groups, had agreed to the change. In future the new ownership structure of eCOGRA would not include software or other service providers or operators enabling it to be truly independent in the discharge of its audit, advisory, compliance and seal awarding activities.
The Founding Members note that the company had established itself as a credible and respected industry player with major business connections since its launch in 2003, and that it is now appropriate that the founding ties be severed, allowing eCOGRA to make its own way in the world of online gambling.
Staffed by IT, responsible gambling and audit specialists, eCOGRA offers a wide range of professional business services to internet gambling companies, and enjoys business relationships with major trade associations and several international licensing jurisdictions.
The company’s Safe and Fair seal of accreditation has become a reliable indicator of operators committed to high standards of commercial conduct, customer respect and fair gaming, and is held by 150 websites, belonging to some of the most successful tier one companies in the industry.
"The industry is maturing, and eCOGRA must be part of that evolving process," Beveridge said this week. "The trend toward national or state regulatory regimes around the world is just one of the areas in which our professional services are increasingly in demand by companies and jurisdictions committed to ensuring that they are well prepared in all respects to meet the highest international standards."
Beveridge revealed that eCOGRA’s services and operational structure would remain largely unchanged.
"We will continue to offer unbiased player dispute mediation through our Fair Gaming Advocate, and our TGTR outcomes-based software monitoring system is proving increasingly popular with non-accredited entities and will if anything be expanded," he said.
"Our policy of independently assessing operators for the award of the Safe and Fair seal, and subsequent review and monitoring activity, will remain in place, and the provision of professional business services and advisory consulting remains a key element in our commercial offering and will become an increasing important part of the services offered.
"Importantly, our strong commitment to responsible gambling will continue, specifically in our operator training initiatives and the requirements enshrined in our standards."
"Going forward eCOGRA intends to become a major force in helping shape new gaming regulations, offering specialised advice and assistance to existing and emerging jurisdictions and be at the forefront of establishing industry standards".
The MBO has scored an important coup in bringing eCOGRA’s former Independent Directors onto the new Board.
"Our chairman will be Michael Hirst OBE, supported by a directorate that includes Bill Henbrey, Bill Galston OBE, Frank Catania and myself," said Beveridge, adding that biographies were available on the eCOGRA website at http://www.ecogra.org
"We are very fortunate that these highly experienced and respected figures in the industry will continue to make their considerable knowledge and business expertise available to us," he said.
Michael Hirst said that the original mandate of the eCOGRA Independent Directors had been to continually improve the credibility of the industry, ensure players were properly protected and develop appropriate standards and regulations.
"Those basic principles will remain our goal in addition to increased competitive commercial activity," he said.