The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) today launches a comprehensive set of standards that covers all aspects of player protection, fair gaming and responsible operator behaviour in the online gaming and betting environment. These standards complement stringent legal requirements already imposed by EU licensing jurisdictions.
Over 170 technical requirements have been adopted on a voluntary basis to take into account all aspects of online gaming and betting activities and associated services. As part of their membership criteria, EGBA members are required to comply with all standards. Compliance is verified by a compulsory annual audit carried out by eCOGRA, a leading standards and player protection body, which itself is annually subjected to a comprehensive quality assurance review by one of the world’s leading firms of auditors.
This initiative builds upon EGBA’s (then EBA) code of conduct, which was already adopted in 2003 and follows other industry initiatives. Self-regulation is vital in the online gaming and betting industry in order to continuously take stock of this fast developing eCommerce sector and stay ahead of slower legal developments. It also ensures, given the cross border nature of the sector, consistency of standards across Europe to guarantee consumers can play in a safe, secure and reliable environment.
EGBA Chairman, Norbert Teufelberger said: “These standards are a sign of our commitment to an exemplary level of corporate and social responsibility. They could serve as a basis for reflection at a time when governments and regulators across Europe are trying to find ways to best protect consumers in the online gaming and betting environment.”
These responsible gaming and betting standards include measures such as:
- Promoting responsible gaming, preventing underage gaming and problem gaming;
- A zero tolerance approach to fraud or criminal behaviour;
- Protecting customers’ privacy and safeguarding their information;
- Ensuring prompt and accurate customer payments;
- Assessing rigorously and independently the fairness of games;
- Committing to responsible and ethical marketing practice;
eCOGRA CEO Andrew Beveridge added: "Our goal is to ensure that EGBA has a meaningful professional review process for determining each member's compliance with agreed and consistently applied standards, which consumers and regulators have come to expect in the online gaming and betting industry.”
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The EGBA is an association of the leading European gaming and betting operators Bet-at-home.com, bwin, Digibet, Carmen Media Group, Expekt, Interwetten, PartyGaming and Unibet. EGBA is a Brussels-based non-profit making association. It promotes the right of private gaming and betting operators that are regulated and licensed in one Member State to a fair market access throughout the European Union. Online gaming and betting is a fast growing market, but will remain for the next decades a negligible part of the overall European gaming market in which the traditional land based offer is expected to grow from € 80 Billion GGR in 2007 to € 95 Billion GGR in 2012, thus keeping the lion’s share with 90,6% of the market. Source: Global Betting and Gaming Consultants, May 2008
About eCOGRA: eCOGRA sets online standards for gaming and betting and provides an international framework for best operational and player protection practice requirements. These are enforced through inspections and reviews, and continuous monitoring.
Companies that have achieved accreditation with eCOGRA are entitled to bear the organisation's "Safe and Fair" seal, indicating to players everywhere that all operational systems and games are continuously monitored to consistently high standards. For more information; got o www.eCOGRA.org
EGBA RESPONSIBLE STANDARDS
The EGBA technical Standards strengthen EGBA’s commitment to offering online gaming and betting activities in a secure, safe and reliable environment. In particular, this initiative aims to:
- preserve customer and stakeholder confidence in the industry;
- ensure that EGBA Members operate in accordance with the best practice and regulatory standards;
- address the perceived areas of concern raised in jurisdictions where a formal regulatory framework does not exist, or where only monopolies operate;
- substantiate commitment and compliance by consenting to rigorous annual independent assessments.
The EGBA technical Standards are founded upon nine principles which focus primarily on consumer protection. Each principle sets a directive from which a number of technical standards are derived. They define socially responsible practices that support the operations and business activities in relation to the products offered by each EGBA member. The members’ commitment is underpinned further by a rigorous independent assessment that is performed annually in order to substantiate compliance.
Summary of key principles and standards
Principle 1: PROMOTE RESPONSIBLE GAMING AND BETTING
- Providing customers with explicit information about the possible risks and harms of online gaming
- Providing a link to qualified sources of help
- Allowing customers to request the setting of betting/deposit limits
- Offering customers the opportunity to self-exclude
- Not providing credit to customers
Principle 2: KNOW-YOUR-CUSTOMER AND PREVENT UNDERAGE GAMING AND BETTING
- Prominently displaying a ‘no under 18’s’ or ‘no under 21’s’ sign on the homepage of the members’ websites, linking to a clear message about underage play
- Advising parents regarding recognised filtering programmes, including a link to a recognised filtering programme to enable customers/parents to prevent minors from accessing gaming and betting sites
- Regularly monitoring underage gaming and betting by conducting random checks of customers to ensure compliance with age restrictions
Principle 3: ZERO TOLERANCE OF FRAUDULENT AND CRIMINAL BEHAVIOUR
- Introducing anti-money laundering policies and procedures to cater for the identification, escalation and reporting of unusual or suspicious activities, including investigating material or unusual deposits, withdrawals and customer accounts where little or no gaming or betting activity takes place
- Logging of all information regarding changes to customer details and requesting appropriate verification documentation for significant changes (e.g. changes to customers’ names and banking details)
- Introducing anti-money laundering practices including the provision of suspicious transaction reports to the relevant national financial investigation unit and international institutions
Principle 4: PROTECT CUSTOMER PRIVACY AND SAFEGUARD INFORMATION
- Protecting confidential customer information from unauthorised or unnecessary disclosure
Principle 5: PROMPT AND ACCURATE CUSTOMER PAYMENTS
- Ensuring prompt and accurate processing of payments subject to appropriate and necessary checks and verifications
- Allowing customers to open only one account, by providing the following minimum information: name, age, address, unique username and password.
Principle 6: RIGOROUS INDEPENDENT ASSESSMENT OF PRODUCT FAIRNESS AND RANDOMNESS
Implementing a product testing policy, approved and supported by the EGBA member’s senior management, which will provide for the internal and external testing of all products for fairness and randomness
Principle 7: ETHICAL AND RESPONSIBLE MARKETING
- Ensuring that advertisements shall not entice the underage to bet, and shall not be displayed in media that is clearly targeted at the underage
- Ensuring that advertisements only contain factually correct information and avoid misleading information
- Ensuring that members do not knowingly engage in the distribution of unsolicited advertisements (i.e. SPAM) either directly or through a third party
Principle 8: COMMITMENT TO CUSTOMER SATISFACTION AND SUPPORT
- Giving customers the opportunity to log complaints and disputes on a 24/7 basis
- Ensuring that an independent third party shall be available for mediation or resolution of disputes received from members or their customers
Principle 9: RESPONSIBLE PRACTICES UNDERPINNED BY A SECURE, SAFE AND RELIABLE ENVIRONMENT
- Having a legal operating license from a reputable European regulatory authority
- Having an independent third party assessing on an annual basis the EGBA members’ compliance with the standards
- Having EGBA members commit to an annual audit of financial statements and accounts performed by a reputable external audit firm