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LONDON ?? January 28, 2004 ?? During the International Casino Exhibition 2004 (ICE), one of the world's largest gaming shows, eCOGRA today announced that its first seals for online casino operators would be brought to market within weeks. eCOGRA seals are intended to provide online players with high levels of assurance of fair, honest, and responsible online gaming.

Andrew Beveridge, chief executive of eCOGRA, said the awarding of eCOGRA seals is imminent as applicant web site operators continue to adopt polices and procedures to comply with eCOGRA's eGAP standards. ??We didn't rush into this,? Beveridge said, ??in every instance each applicant had work to do in order to meet eGAP requirements.?

According to Beveridge, eCOGRA's independent directors are making final determinations with regard to the initial eCOGRA applicants. eCOGRA's independent directors are reviewing final responses by applicant operators and the audit panel with regard to questions surrounding the release of eCOGRA's first seals. ??eCOGRA's independent directors felt strongly that no seals would be awarded until worthy sites understood and fully complied with our standards.?

??Operator response to eCOGRA has been tremendous, and the growing number of eCOGRA applicants assures us that the first seals awarded will represent a turning point in the industry's movement toward increased player protections and improved credibility,? added Beveridge.

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 last year with backing from the online gaming industry's leading software providers.

Gaming sites that apply for the seal must use software supplied by a member of eCOGRA and must comply with the eCOGRA Generally Accepted Practices (eGAP), as documented by a review of the site's procedures by eCOGRA's Audit Panel. The sites will also be checked for player protection policies, technical capabilities and anti-money laundering measures. eGAP is broken into three key components that provide for a strictly monitored playing environment: Player Protections, Fair Gaming and Responsible Conduct.

??eCOGRA's eGAP requirements are intended to be a forever improving set of good practices, which will be an important tool toward assessing and continuously improving player assurances and security systems,? said Michael Hirst, eCOGRA chairman and independent director. ??eCOGRA is working to substantially raise the bar upon which performance and player protections are assessed within the online gaming industry.?

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 Director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming.

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