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ISO/IEC 27001 CERTIFICATION

eCOGRA AWARDS FIRST SEALS OF APPROVAL

LONDON €“ February 18, 2004 €“ eCOGRA today announced that its first seals for online casino operators have been awarded. eCOGRA seals are intended to provide online players with high levels of assurance of fair, honest, and responsible online gaming.

eCOGRA, which stands for e-Commerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance, is a non-profit organisation based in the United Kingdom. The organization was established early last year with backing from the online gaming industry's leading software suppliers.

Twenty-three sites are in this first group of casinos to be recognized with the eCOGRA seal. Each site is authorized to display the eCOGRA seal on its home page, an emblem that reassures players that they are dealing with a casino operating to reputable standards. A full list of approved casinos can be obtained at www.ecogra.org/casinos.

Several applicant casinos did not fully meet the criteria this time round, and these organizations are now working hard on their processes for re-assessement later in the year, together with a number of other casinos which are currently being assessed for the first time.

One of the most tangible benefits that online players receive from the eCOGRA program is access to a dedicated dispute resolution service. If a player has a dispute with a casino that displays the eCOGRA seal, the player can easily request eCOGRA's assistance by filling out a short form at www.ecogra.org/disputes. Of course, there is no charge of any sort for the player to use this service.

€œeCOGRA will act quickly to resolve any disputes, because the reputations of our organization, its members and the sites that are awarded our seal are very important,€ said Andrew Beveridge, chief executive of eCOGRA. €œWe have recently hired a full-time person in our London headquarters to serve as Fair Gaming Advocate. She has the authority to investigate allegations of problems, and to seek resolutions that leave all parties satisfied.€

Gaming sites that apply for the seal must comply with the eCOGRA Statements of Generally Accepted Practices (eGAP), as documented by a review of the site's procedures by eCOGRA's Audit Panel comprised of leading international audit firms. eGAP is broken into three key components that provide for a strictly monitored playing environment: Player Protections, Fair Gaming and Responsible Conduct. The sites are also checked for player protection policies, technical capabilities and anti-money laundering measures. eCOGRA believes that eGAP will ultimately form the appropriate requirements for regulated online gaming.

€œeCOGRA didn't rush into this,€ said Beveridge. €œOur independent directors were determined that we would not award any seals until worthy sites understood and fully complied with our standards. Together with a dedicated team from eCOGRA's audit panel, comprising international firms, eCOGRA took the time necessary to fully check them out.€

€œeCOGRA seals are a positive development in an industry that has been trying to build credibility with consumers and regulators. Our mission is to prove that responsible companies are involved in online gaming and to make the responsible companies readily recognisable to consumers and government officials,€ said Michael Hirst, eCOGRA's chairman. €œeCOGRA's eGAP requirements are intended to continuously raise the bar for an industry that is increasingly being accepted by policy makers and gaming regulators throughout the world.€

To guarantee eCOGRA's autonomy from software providers and operators, the seals compliance committee is comprised of three independent directors who are not representative of the member software providers or casino operators. These directors are Michael Hirst OBE, former Chairman and CEO of Hilton International; Bill Galston OBE, former Chief Inspector of the Gaming Board for Great Britain; and Frank Catania, a former Assistant Attorney General in the State of New Jersey and former Director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming.




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