eCOGRA in Management Buy OutBy: Adam Richards, Saturday March 26th 2011
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eCOGRA is perhaps the most reputed player protection, software testing and standards body in the online gaming industry. It was founded and owned by threee major players in the industry, Microgaming, 888 and Bwin. Though over the years eCOGRA has demonstrated its independence in audit and granting of approvals, niggling questions have been raised from time to time regarding its true independence from its founder owners. Now even those will be removed because eCOGRA has been bought out by its management in a successful initiative led by chief executive Andrew Beveridge. Is was also clarified that in the future the ownership structure of eCOGRA will never include software providers, online casino operators or others players in the online gaming arena. This will make evident eCOGRA's independence in the discharge of its functions.
The buy-out process was smooth and agreed upon by the founding members. They noted that the time was appropriate for the founding ties be cut, permitting eCOGRA to make its own long term strategic and policy decisions. The announcement pointed out that the independent directors before the buy-out will be retained on the new board. The board will be chaired by Michael Hirst. The other directors include Bill Henbrey formerly head of gaming services at audit firm BDO, Bill Galston former Chief Inspector of the Gaming Board for Great Britain and Frank Catania former director of New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. Beveridge, the Chief Executive Officer, will continue being on the board. 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. He added, "Those basic principles will remain our goal in addition to increased competitive commercial activity."
Beveridge elaborated on the future outlook of eCOGRA. He pointed out that eCOGRA's services and operational structure would remain largely unchanged. The player dispute mediation through the Fair Gaming Advocate would continue. The TGTR outcomes-based software monitoring system is will be expanded, especially with non-accredited entities. The assessment of operators for awarding the Safe and Fair seal and the subsequent review and monitoring activity will remain in place. The offering of professional business services and advisory consulting will become an increasingly important part of the commercial services offered.
Speaking about the larger online gambling scenario, Beveridge said that the industry was maturing and eCOGRA would be part of that evolving process. There is a trend toward national or state regulatory regimes around the world. "Going forward eCOGRA intends to become a major force in helping shape new gaming regulations, offering specialized advice and assistance to existing and emerging jurisdictions and at the forefront of establishing industry standards."
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