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Fair Gaming Advocate`s report for 2005 details player disputes

LONDON, January 18, 2006: The Fair Gaming Advocate for the international standards body eCommerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance (eCOGRA) has reported on player disputes with `Play It Safe` seal operations for the year 2005.

The eCOGRA €œPlay It Safe€ Seal is awarded to operators that meet the organization`s strict standards for fair gaming, player protection and responsible conduct.

In her preamble to the report, FGA official Tex Rees remarks that the level of complaints remains remarkably low at seal venues and a minute percentage of the total volume of business involved.

The 66 major online casinos and poker rooms that hold the seal attract the majority of online casino business, making for billions of transactions every month.

In the current report, the Advocate reports that a total of 439 complaints had been received during 2005, although 103 of these were in respect of non-eCOGRA sites where players do not fall under eCOGRA protection. eCOGRA mediates only in cases where it has authority over the behaviour of the operation concerned.

Of the remaining 336 complaints, 114 were lodged over the past three months, an indication of the heightened profile of the player protection organization, general increased levels of business and generous support of eCOGRA from leading online gambling portals.

`Of the 336 disputes that we received, 10 percent turned out to be valid complaints demanding redress,` says Rees. `Seventy percent of these were made up of bonus and cash-in issues, almost entirely to do with Terms and Conditions or Support errors.`

Over 95 percent of disputes were dealt with in less than 48 hours, a general benchmark for the industry that remains unmatched by either individual webmaster `watchdogs` or comparable channels instituted by other industry organizations, and one achieved due to the rapid cooperation of seal venue managements, says Rees.

Rees added that in the cases where the seal venue was at fault the issues were immediately redressed to the benefit of the player, and follow-up action suggested that remedial measures were introduced to avoid recurrences.

€œMy experience with the seal operators has been an extremely positive one throughout the year,€ Rees reports. €œThe exceptionally low ratio of complaints to total business handled attests to the effectiveness of the eCOGRA standards, and to the consistency in which these are being applied by the operators. Responses to my investigations have at all times been prompt, cooperative and in all ways compliant with the requirements of eCOGRA, making for the safe gambling for the playing community embodied in our €œPlay It Safe€ seal€

Andrew Beveridge, CEO of eCOGRA commented: `The independent directors are pleased with the continued low level of complaints, which is largely due to the conscientious application of our standards. It is to the credit of `Play It Safe` seal managements that this trend continues. Since FGA operations commenced in April 2004, there have been a total of only 690 complaints, a miniscule percentage of the vast volumes of business handled over that time by some of the largest online groups in the business.`

About eCOGRA
eCOGRA, the independent standards authority for the online gaming industry, is committed
to protecting online casino and poker players around the world. The non-profit organization addresses the most important issues to players: fast payouts, fair gaming, responsive and efficient service and responsible operator conduct.

eCOGRA provides an international framework of best operational and player practice requirements enforced through inspections, reviews, and continuous monitoring by independent global audit companies. To date, 66 sites comply with these requirements and have been awarded the coveted €œPlay It Safe€ Seal that identifies to players the safest online gaming sites on the Web. For more information on how eCOGRA is constantly improving standards in online gaming for players everywhere, go to www.ecogra.org.

For all media queries or to arrange a briefing, please contact:
Stuart Hehir
Chameleon PR
+44 (0) 20 77217875

Susan Linder
Lotus Public Relations
+1 (212) 922 5885

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