eCOGRA to Participate in the EGBA Responsible Gaming Day

Posted by Gambling News | Gambling Industry News,Gambling News | Wednesday 19 October 2011 5:03 am

Members of the European Parliament and top online gaming operators will attend October 19 roundtable discussions

The critical topic of responsible gambling will be front and centre of European gambling discussions on October 19, when the influential trade body European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) holds its Responsible Gaming Day in Brussels.

With the European Parliament´s final vote on its draft Report on Online Gambling due in November, the event is expected to attract a substantial audience, bringing together EU and national officials, regulators, experts and academia, and stakeholders representing the broad spectrum of the European gaming industry and player representatives.

The Report is widely expected to influence the European Commission´s follow up to the Green Paper consultation.

Among the experts involved is Andrew Beveridge, Chief Executive of the independent player protection and industry standards organisation eCOGRA, who recently chaired the process to develop a CEN Workshop Agreement for Responsible Remote Gambling Measures (CWA 16259:2011).

"Given the current interest by regulators, operators and other industry stakeholders in further developing common standards for player protection, this is an ideal time to reflect on the success of the CEN Workshop Agreement initiative, which involved over 30 participants from trade associations, licensing authorities, operators and leading academic experts on gambling behaviour," he said.

Beveridge added that already this year over 30 tier one European operators and software suppliers, including the EGBA Members and eCOGRA Safe and Fair sealholders, have voluntarily elected to implement the 134 evidence-based measures developed by CEN aimed at ensuring player protection and responsible operator behaviour, and are being annually audited to demonstrate full compliance.

Based on audit evidence and player feedback, it is evident that these measures are proving highly effective, and as the first Pan-European agreement aimed at providing a high level of player protection in the European Union, this will provide a valuable contribution to any further efforts to develop common standards.

Joachim Haeusler, Responsible Gaming Manager at bwin.party digital entertainment, said that for the effective prevention of gambling-related problems it is important that operators use clearly defined measures and are audited regularly for compliance.

"Being among the first operators to adopt the CWA 16259:2011 measures, bwin.party urges all responsible operators – private as well as state-owned – to adhere to clear player protection measures that are properly audited to ensure a safe gaming environment ," he said.

Malcolm Harbour MEP, Conservative Chairman of the European Parliament of the internal market and consumer protection committee, added: "Our recently adopted report on online gambling has shown that there is a clear support for common standards for consumer protection at EU level. These are a positive step towards establishing a single market regime for responsible and safe gambling and they will benefit consumers, industry as well as the Single Market."

Dr. Gerhard Bühringer, Professor for Addiction Research at the Technische Universität in Dresden said that the CWA 16259:2011 measures provide an important first step towards better protection of vulnerable gamblers and the prevention of underage gambling.

He added that protection measures should be further discussed, and – in addition to external and independent regular audits for all public and private gambling opportunities – a scientific analysis and evaluation under everyday conditions is essential to determine the efficacy of all protection measures, as a basis for possible further improvements.

Following the roundtable discussions, Tex Rees, who manages eCOGRA’s initiatives in responsible gambling and the organisation’s disputes mediation service, will be presenting a live demonstration of the internet tools that are available to identify and protect vulnerable players.

Her demo will illustrate to delegates how the CWA 16259:2011 measures have been implemented by the EGBA Members, demonstrating how the measures work to ensure player protection and responsible operator behaviour, how the requirements are regularly audited, and the results of recent studies on the effectiveness of the measures.

www.responsiblegamingday.eu/html/rgd-programme.html

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eCOGRA Acquired by Management and Strengthens its Independent Status

Posted by Gambling News | Gambling Industry News,Gambling News | Monday 28 March 2011 10:17 am

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.

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eCOGRA Takes Responsible Gambling To Operators

Posted by Gambling News | Gambling Industry News,Gambling News | Monday 17 January 2011 11:01 am

In her responsible gambling reportage to eCOGRA’s Independent Directors this month, Fair Gaming Advocate Tex Rees reveals that last year the player protection organisation carried out responsible gambling training at operator bases instead of at its London head office.

Eight international operator and software provider bases were visited by the eCOGRA team for the full day sessions, which trained a total of 268 employees, Rees reported.

Typical training sessions included:

    • Problem gambling awareness
      Social responsibility
      Responsible gambling regulations and requirements
      Interaction with the player
      Dealing with problem gamblers
  • "We used to host the training at a single location with a small number of delegates attending from a number of different operators," Rees notes. "The delegates were then tasked with training their staff when they returned to their companies.

    "We now provide this important training at operators’ sites as a far more cost effective way to reach more employees directly and properly train those who are on the front line and are most likely to initially deal with problem gamblers.

    "This also allows staff to discuss problems they have experienced in specific circumstances and receive professional feedback. The training is designed particularly for staff who interact with customers, such as call centre representatives and VIP department employees, but is also of value to staff in the marketing, retention, fraud & risk departments," she said.

    "Delivering the training at the operator’s premises additionally helps us to customise the training to the operator’s brands and to meet any specific needs that have been noted at that level."

    Taking the initiative to the front line has been a popular move, according to a number of complimentary assessments from operators. A typical report from a Betclic employee attending the course assessed the course as being informative and interesting.

    "It definitely deepened my understanding of spotting the triggers for problem gambling and confirmed the importance of making available a range of responsible gambling tools for vulnerable players," the delegate wrote.

    Andrew Beveridge, chief executive officer of eCOGRA, said that training staff to deal professionally and sensitively with responsible gambling issues was a critical element in any gambling environment, and was regarded as a priority in the eCOGRA standards for best operational practice.

    "The percentage of gamblers who develop a problem may be relatively small – around 2 percent – but these are vulnerable members of society and they deserve appropriate and sympathetic but firm treatment by properly trained staff," he said. "These training initiatives have proved increasingly popular, and we expect to extend our coverage in this area further in the future."

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