Posts Tagged ‘ecogra online casinos’

eCOGRA Reports Less Complaints Per Approved Safe and Fair Online Casino

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010
eCOGRA Reports Fewer Dispute Mediations in 2010

eCOGRA Reports Fewer Dispute Mediations in 2010

In terms of raising the standards of online casino transparency, eCOGRA has definitely achieved the most success of any other non-profit (heck, for-profit) in business today. Operating with this end in mind, eCOGRA ensures online casinos are operating fairly and responsibly, and also provides player assistance if/when dispute resolution services are needed.

The eCOGRA “Safe and Fair Seal” is bestowed to internet gaming operators who pass a comprehensive inspection and audit, and who continually meet ongoing requirements to par with government regulation. In fact, eCOGRA’s seal requirements are more stringent than many a so-called online gambling commission. In terms of building player trust, there are no better sites than eCOGRA online casinos.

Unfortunately, most, if not all online casinos boasting the eCOGRA Safe and Fair Seal are closed to U.S. players. It goes to show what happens when the government attempts to impose bans rather than regulating, and consequently, putting an end to the underground market. But that’s for another blog post.

As for eCOGRA, let’s just say they have taken the complete opposite approach and are doing their job with flying colors. As mentioned, one of eCOGRA’s tasks is to provide dispute mediation for players at eCOGRA-approved online casinos. In a perfect world, there would be no disputes whatsoever. However, we all know this isn’t a perfect world.

The fact of the matter is that online casinos AND players make mistakes. When the two sides can’t exactly agree on how to fix said mistake, that’s when eCOGRA’s Fair Gaming Advocate, Tex Rees, steps in. As reported by Rees, the first half of 2010 has thus far generated less dispute mediation requests than the same time last year. What’s even more impressive is that eCOGRA has eleven more approved online casinos than last year.

Breaking the numbers down, Rees reports there were a total of 376 complaints, of which 287 were deemed valid. The remaining 89 invalid complaints were either due to insufficient detail, irrelevance, player abuse, anonymity or pertaining to a non-eCOGRA approved online casino.

Further attesting to the sway of eCOGRA, 76% of all valid complaints were resolved within 48 hours, of which nearly half (47%) were resolved in favor of the player. 43% of the disputes were pertaining to withdrawals (down from 51%), 21% regarding bonus issues and another 21% pertaining to locked accounts.

This averages to 11.03 disputes per week, which correlates to 0.34 disputes per awarded “Safe and Fair Seal” (lower than last year’s rate of 0.37). As Rees points out in her report, these numbers must also be gauged in light with increased transactions with players.

Said Rees, “We can attribute a portion of this drop in disputes to the fact that we have now been working with many of the Seal operations for several years and as a consequence a number of policies and procedures have been developed that translate to less cause for disputes. Our operators are also better equipped and motivated to deal with disputes at the operator level, which results in eCOGRA receiving fewer complaints.”

Summing it up, Rees stated “This level of performance is satisfactory and well within the standards we have set for our operators.”

Well, considering all the complaints Online Casino Suite receives regarding non-eCOGRA approved online casinos (and non-OCS approved casinos at that), we can’t disagree. Congrats eCOGRA! Keep up the good work!

Online Casino Fairness 101: Turning to eCOGRA for Some Answers

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

fist

How about a fair fist! Demand transparency from online casinos!

I don’t know about everyone else out there, but I have to say that I am increasingly becoming frustrated with the uncertainty of getting a fair hand online gambling these days. With more and more online casinos boasting software fairness accreditation claims, yet no mention of monthly payout reports, I’m beginning to wonder what is really going on behind closed doors.

Maybe there’s other affiliate portal sites out there wondering the same. The only thing is that I don’t hear anybody asking the tough questions that need to be asked. Well then, no more I say! And who better to help the industry with these answers than the purveyor of the highest fairness and transparency standards out there today: eCOGRA.

That said, I, Devon Chappell (on behalf of Online Casino Suite), have decided to start a blog series that takes a close look at how online casinos are regulated in the various jurisdictions out there. By means of writing emails to the necessary parties that can aid in our enlightenment (such as eCOGRA), and then publishing consequent correspondences, our aim is to better educate players. I can’t say if we’ll get the answers we want, but you can’t knock the intent!

Without further ado, email #1:  Legitimacy of Software Fairness Certificates (such as TST & CFG) and the Absence of Payout Reports

Dear eCOGRA,

This is Devon Chappell with Online Casino Suite. We are an eCOGRA approved portal site and would first of all like to thank you for all of your hard work in raising the standards for the online gambling industry. Speaking of which, that is precisely why I am writing today. My question does not necessarily pertain to eCOGRA specifically, yet I could hardly think of a better organization suited to know the correct information. We truly take great pride in being advocates for players, which we believe should include educating them about how it is they actually receive a safe and fair wager online – not just telling them they will get a safe and fair bet.

I understand if you don’t have the time to address these questions. However, I would greatly appreciate any feedback.

I’m fully aware of how the RNG works to deliver fair and random betting results, as well as the basic principle behind source code. However, what I’m not sure about is how exactly this interplays with regulation – more specifically, ongoing regulation. I am also unclear about these online casinos claiming to be approved by Technical Systems Testing, CFG or the like. Many of these online casinos don’t even link to certificates, and of those that do, the certificates are generally from a few years back and only state the name of the software and not the online casino. And, you certainly can’t find certificates at the websites of the folks handing out the certificates themselves!

That being said, I was hoping you could help answer these questions:

Does a fairness accreditation of the software necessarily mean the casino is fair, especially if said casino is regulated in a jurisdiction where source code changes are permitted? Would the casino then need to have an accreditation specifically for its own licensed platform – and a monthly one at that?

How does one know if they are getting a fair wager if an online casino does not have any payout percentage reports to show for?

Lastly, does anyone at eCOGRA know anything about the regulatory protocols of Curacao (Netherlands, Antilles)? We have a few online casinos listed at Online Casino Suite that are licensed in Curacao; however, for the life of us, we can’t find any official website that goes into details about the regulatory protocols here. It’s been said that the Netherlands Department of Justice does an initial due-diligence investigation, and we’ve also come across a “master licensor” known as Cyberluck, yet nothing is said as to how ongoing regulation is maintained.

We’ve heard that, depending on the regulatory jurisdiction, online casino operators are permitted to change their source code. Of course, so long as all the numbers match up come audit time, there is nothing wrong with that.  Do you know which – if any – of the non-UK whitelisted regulatory jurisdictions out there allow online casino operators to change source code? Kahnawake? Antigua? Curacao?

Honestly, Online Casino Suite is not so much concerned about the UK gambling commission and its white-listed jurisdictions, such as Alderney and Gibraltar. However, we are particularly concerned about some of the other jurisdictions out there. Also, we do not know if eCOGRA works closely with TST, but we are beginning to have our doubts about the legitimacy of their logo accreditation. I have tried contacting them to discuss these issues to no avail. And yet, they allow online casinos to display the TST approved logo – but with no actual accreditation to show for. The Rome Partners network of online casinos, including Rome Casino herself (highly reputable, all things considered), still links to a press release from almost a year ago, stating they are approved by TST – but there’s no accreditation to show for!

Sorry to get off track and making this long-winded, however, I am getting very frustrated with the industry! Thank you so much again for everything you guys do, and I pray for the day when regulation will open in the U.S. and Online Casino Suite can promote the hell out of eCOGRA and eCOGRA approved online casinos to the U.S. gaming community!

Dear eCOGRA, Thanks for listening.

Best Regards,

Devon Chappell

Chartwell Technology Receives eCOGRA’s Certified Software Seal

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Chartwell joins eCOGRA in fostering casino software transparency

Chartwell joins eCOGRA in fostering casino software transparency

Chartwell Technology – the Calgary-based, Toronto Stock Exchange listed online casino software developer – is now one of a growing number of white-label software platforms to receive the eCOGRA Certified Software Seal. No easy feat, getting the nod from eCOGRA is akin to going through a U.S. Supreme Court hearing. Okay, maybe it’s not that bad, but there’s some serious transparency compliance requirements all the same!

For anyone unfamiliar with eCOGRA, or better yet, the eCOGRA Certified Software Seal, it stands for the highest degree of operator transparency in what can oftentimes be a highly nontransparent industry – the internet betting industry, that is. Originally reserved for online casino licensees of Microgaming Software (an original founding member of eCOGRA back in 2003), accreditations are now available for all manner of online casinos, poker rooms, sports betting sites, bingo rooms, network operators of such sites and software developers powering and licensing their wares to independent operators. At the time of writing, eCOGRA certifies over 150 internet betting site operators, and with the addition of Chartwell, has certified twenty software providers.

Now, just because an online casino or software company can afford to pay for an eCOGRA accreditation, does not mean they will pass the course! Of course, eCOGRA will work with all operators to get them up to speed. However, it is reasonable to say there are online casinos out there that could certainly afford to go through the motions of being accredited, but choose not to do so as they would prefer remaining nontransparent. Needless to say, that means they are hiding something, and more likely than not, cheating their players.

In the case of software developers like Chartwell, the mission is to be as transparent as possible in order to foster player trust. And when eCOGRA is called in to help make this a reality, it all being with a thorough on-site inspection and assessment of Chartwell’s facilities. As eCOGRA’s Compliance Manager, Shaun McCallaghan said, “The Chartwell team was completely cooperative and well prepared with all documentation and systems ready for compliance testing…meeting all requirements over several days of testing.”

Such testing is in accordance with eCOGRA’s eGAP (Generally Accepted Practices) procedure, which in the case of software developers, includes an assessment of internal management controls, internal controls over IT security, software functionality, control environment and network structure integrity (for poker platforms), and assessment of the randomness and fairness of the games.

The latter, of course, is what every online gambler wants to know. Are these games fair and is this online casino safe to wager at? Although this is the software platform we are talking about (eCOGRA has another seal – the Safe and Fair Seal – that is strictly awarded to online casino operators), it is the software platform which indeed has the built-in security protocols for handling transactions through the online cashier, as well as the RNG governing hand outcomes.

Granted, eCOGRA gives no absolute guarantee that approved operators are going to give a fair hand. They say on their website, “While eCOGRA does its utmost to ensure compliance with its principles, it cannot offer 100% assurance that the operation of any games at any given site is at all times in accordance with the eCOGRA requirements.” However, this is exactly why eCOGRA enforces ongoing monitoring and requires all accredited parties to undergo annual compliance review. In the case of online casinos, this amounts to monthly payout percentage reports, which all approved casinos must display on their website.

Speaking of which, Chartwell powers some pretty heavy hitter gambling sites in the European market. Mostly all-in-one betting sites using multiple software platforms to power poker, sports, horseracing, bingo and online casino gaming under one roof, Chartwell licensees include BetFair, Victor Chandler, Stan James and bwin. As for Chartwell’s gaming package, it mainly consists of fixed odds games for online casinos, available in both mobile and live dealer modes in addition to a standard desktop download platform.

Boss Media Achieves eCOGRA Online Wagering Software Fairness Certification

Friday, April 9th, 2010

Boss Media, which powers the OCS approved Casino Club, is the latest top-tier online casino software developer to receive an eCOGRA certification, following the likes of popular European betting site and software licensee, Bwin – approved in January of this year. Now making a total of eighteen eCOGRA approved software platforms offering mobile wagering, sports betting, poker games, bingo and online casino gambling, there is no denying the growing need and importance of eCOGRA in the European iGaming industry.

Better yet, eCOGRA’s role is more essential to the legally regulated online gambling sector, which is precisely why you won’t find any U.S. facing online casinos with an eCOGRA certification. If you ask me, I think eCOGRA is smart to keep away from the U.S. In other words, any country who willingly doesn’t play fair, opts to ban rather than regulate, and who attempts to give online betting a bad name simply does not deserve eCOGRA.

What eCOGRA does is provide the groundwork for achieving the highest standards in gaming operator responsibility, while ensuring safe, fair and overall transparent online gambling standards are met in all gaming operations – everything from software provider to online casino operator. As most people know by now, the software platform is where fairness begins, as this is contingent on the programmed source code and a properly functioning Random Number Generator (RNG).

As mentioned, Bwin is a licensee of the Boss Media platform, and takes part in the International Poker Network – one of the largest European facing online poker networks out there currently. This may explain why Boss Media’s certification with eCOGRA followed Bwin earlier in the year. It’s a perfect example of how when the bar gets raised, those who don’t follow will be left behind. And not that there aren’t any good non-eCOGRA approved betting sites out there (let’s face it…getting certified is no easy task), yet the fact remains that an increasing number of established gaming businesses are turning to eCOGRA. This especially became the case when eCOGRA opened its certifications to other software platforms other than Microgaming and online casinos powered by Microgaming.

As Boss Media’s CEO, Johan Berg eloquently stated, “The company (Boss Media) has always been committed to the highest possible quality in both products and operational conduct. Our achievement in meeting eCOGRA’s demanding software certification standards reaffirms that commitment and provides us with a useful and internationally accepted benchmark against which we can measure our performance.”

Microgaming Powered Spin3 Launches Avalon for Mobile Online Casino Platform

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

If you’re a smart phone owner and still haven’t given mobile online casino gaming a go, now is as good a time as any. Heck, you can even give mobile gaming a go on your outdated cell phone – although I have to say that the smart phone experience is light year’s ahead. Granted, the mobile gaming experience also depends on the actual mobile platform downloaded to your cell phone.

Platforms, like that of Microgaming partner, Spin3, are certainly the best of the best when it comes to mobile online casino gaming. Being powered by Microgaming, not only does Spin3 provide cutting edge graphics and gaming innovation, their portfolio of mobile-compatible casino games is probably the largest there is. In terms of compatibility, Spin3 currently supports over 2,000 handsets via the GameWire Java platform.

Spin3’s latest addition to its family of nearly twenty Java-based mobile games is “Avalon” – Microgaming’s popular bonus video slot themed on the classic tale and legend of King Arthur. Offering a scatter symbol that awards up to twelve free spins and a chance at earning 7x winnings on original stakes, it’s not difficult to see why Avalon has become one of Microgaming’s more popular slots. Just the fact that Spin3 is adapting Avalon into a mobile online casino game is a testament to the games enormous success.

In a recent press release, Spin3 CEO, Matti Zinder, said the company is delighted to include Avalon in it’s portfolio. According to Zinder, “In the last year we have made great advances in developing web applications for smartphones with advanced web browsers like the iPhone and the Android. At the same time, our GameWire Java platform remains a fundamental part of our business. Java games enable us to support as broad a range of handsets and as many customers as possible, which is great news for our clients.  Mobile penetration is high (in Eastern Europe), but people are not necessarily using the latest handsets. It is important that Spin3 is offering a dynamic portfolio of games that are appealing and, more importantly, available to the region so that we can support our clients who are looking to expand in these new markets.”

To test our Spin3’s mobile online casino platform for yourself, OCS highly recommends the mobile package offered through All Slots Casino. It’s one of few online casinos with an eCOGRA audited mobile platform, publishing monthly payout percentage reports (currently averaging over a 96% return). Sorry US players, All Slots is bound by Microgaming’s non-US stance. Read the All Slots Casino Review for more information.