Building on their promise to once again raise the bar for responsible gaming standards expected of online casino operators, eCommerce Online Gaming Regulation Assurance (eCOGRA), has completed a training course in which seventy attendants were schooled in the areas of problem gambling, the implementation of eCOGRA general accepted practices, and advertising guidelines for gaming operators.
Now in its fifth year, eCOGRA’s training courses are available for any key personnel working at eCOGRA certified online casinos, poker rooms, sportsbooks and bingo rooms.
In total, there are now currently 145 approved sites, the majority of which are online casino operators. For anyone who doesn’t know what the eCOGRA seal stands for, it is undoubtedly the highest accreditation a gaming operator can receive, thus giving any “Fair and Safe” seal-bearer a Tier-1 status in the online gambling industry.
However, as eCOGRA’s Responsible Gambling Manager, Tex Rees, points out, the heightened demand for training courses demonstrates that eCOGRA’s Safe and Fair Seal goes much further than simply meeting approval criteria, albeit such criteria represents the strictest code of regulations an operator can willingly bound themselves to. In other words, the willingness of operators to receive further training demonstrates that online gaming operators want to be meet the highest responsible gaming standards they can – even exceeding such standards in an industry that has seen its fair share of criticism.
Whether all such criticism is warranted, is another subject altogether. For example, eCOGRA points out that while problem gambling is certainly a concern that should be taken seriously, problem gambling oftentimes is blown out of proportion by special interest groups, many of which have political agendas. When considering that there are hundreds of thousands, even millions of active online gamblers, the percentage of bettors that qualify as being “pathologic” is a miniscule percentage. The 2007 UK Gambling Prevalence Study confirmed this in its findings that 0.6 percent of adults should be considered “at risk” pathological bettors.
However, numbers like these are either blown up or downright refuted by gambling opponents, who generally conduct their own studies on the gambling sector or are behind seemingly third party studies that show much higher numbers, which in turn, are fed to media outlets and government officials. Not meaning to sound like a conspiracy theorist here, but for anyone who knows the extent at which eCOGRA approved operators go to preventing problem gambling, the claims that online gambling is rampantly out of control are simply lacking in merit and credibility, and as such, cannot be taken at face value.
Instead of battling it out with detractors, however, eCOGRA has directed its energies toward training online casino operators, such being the case at the aforementioned training session. Course topics included identifying and dealing with problem gamblers by holistically examining the issues and psychological implications which problem gamblers are often faced with. Moreso, Rees pointed out that eCOGRA teaches operators to address problem gambling via marketing and advertising avenues, mandating the use of self-diagnostic aids, counseling advice, and especially training staff members to recognize problem gambling traits.
It should go without saying, eCOGRA operators exemplify the social and moral responsibilities that all online gaming operators need to run their business models by. The continued success and demand of eCOGRA’s training courses is indeed highly encouraging, not to mention reassuring from an online gamblers perspective.