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Private Gaming Operators are More Responsible

November 5, 2008

In Europe two types of operators provide online gambling services. On the one hand there are the large state owned monopolies like Norske Tipping of Norway. There are about ten such monopolies. On the other hand there are the numerous private companies that are members of the European Gaming and Betting Operators (EGBA). The EGBA is an association of the leading private gaming operators that looks after the responsibilities and rights of its members.

Many European states are debating whether to liberalize online gambling. At the center of the debate is the ability of the private gaming operators to tackle issues like customer protection, responsible gaming and underage gambling. The EGBA has set standards in these issues that have to be implemented by all gaming operators affiliated to it. In order to assess the actual situation existing at ground level the EGBA decided in May 2008 to have a study undertaken that would compare the performance of the state monopolies against its members with respect to the standards it has set in the areas of consumer protection, security and social responsibility. The EGBA assigned this task to e-Commerce Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance (eCOGRA). eCOGRA is an independent non-profit organization that assesses online gaming operators with respect to its own benchmarks in fair and safe operational practices and awards those operators that meet its requirements the coveted eCOGRA "Seal of Approval".  Hence eCOGRA was fully capable of carrying out the required study.

The results of this comprehensive study have now been released and make for interesting reading. In 24% of the standards used in the comparison the private gaming operators have outperformed the state run gaming monopolies. In 43% of the standards used in the comparison the private gaming operators are on par with the state run monopolies. Only in 4% of the standards did the state run monopolies fare better than the private gaming operators. This accounted for 71% of the standards. In the remaining 29% of the standards eCOGRA was unable to make a comparison. The report indicated that for 21% of the standards sufficient information was not available and that 8% of the standards did not lend themselves for comparison.

The EGBA is obviously pleased with the results. Sigrid Ligne, Secretary General of the EGBA responded to the results by saying that they disprove the notion propagated by some governments that private gaming operators "are failing to provide consumers with similar levels of protection and responsible gaming practices." In fact the private gaming operators are taking the lead and this according to Ligne is because of the stewardship provided by the EGBA. Ligne added that all gaming operators must improve in the areas that they are lacking. He also stressed the need for greater transparency so that in the next study there would be sufficient information to compare the remaining 21% of the standards

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