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On-Line Gaming Association Adds New Program Members, New York

02 October 2002

The Interactive Gaming Council, an association of international interactive gambling sites, announced yesterday that three additional online casinos are participating in its Seal of Approval program (SoA), an initiative that’s designed to increase consumer confidence in interactive gaming or gambling experiences.

The new participants are Captain Cooks Casino, Casino Kingdom and English Harbour. Captain Cooks and Casino Kingdom are licensed by the government of Vanuatu and owned by Integrity Casinos Ltd., a subsidiary of Sports Data Casting Ltd. English Harbour, licensed by Antigua, is owned by EH New Ventures Inc.

The new sites join the five original members of the Seal of Approval program - Casino Fortune, Mapau Casino and Miami Beach Casino, all owned by the Sunny Group, and VIP Sports and VIP Soccer, owned by VIP Services.

All eight sites have signed agreements with the IGC that require the sites to provide fair and honest gaming or gambling environments and business practices, to implement player protection mechanisms and to abide by the results of a formalized dispute resolution process.

The SoA agreements, which must be renewed annually, are the final step in a highly detailed review by the IGC and designated, independent third-party experts on behalf of the IGC of an applicant site’s procedures. When a site passes muster, it’s allowed to display the Seal of Approval logo on its home page.

“Players should be especially reassured when they gamble at a site that displays the Seal of Approval,” said Rick Smith, executive director of the IGC. “While we expect all members of the IGC to follow our Code of Conduct, SoA participants agree to abide by an even higher standard of self-compliance.

“When a company has been vetted for the SoA program, we require additional information its management, its support staff, its licensing jurisdiction, its financial procedures and its gaming or gambling software. The SoA includes strict requirements pertaining to payout procedures, posting of game odds and rules, record keeping, response to player inquiries, protection of player data, fraud control and advertising policies.

“This program takes things to a higher level. For example, the site must have the ability to block gambling by minors and by residents of particular jurisdictions. The site must also be able and willing to block gambling by a player who has requested self-exclusion (for example, in the case of compulsive gambling problems).”

The IGC retains the right to monitor a Seal of Approval site, and to withdraw the use of the SoA logo if a site violates the rules - the SoA logo is downloaded to a site from the IGC Web site, providing an element of control for the IGC in its application. An important part of the program is dispute resolution,hich assures players that an IGC representative will take an active role in mediating a problem between a player and a site.

“To date there have been no unsatisfied complaints against the original SoA members,” said Keith Furlong, deputy director of the IGC and the Compliance Officer who administers the SoA program. “It’s logical that only the best sites, ones with conscientious customer service personnel, would subject themselves to this additional review and to the dispute resolution process. But it’s good for the player to know this service is there.”

To apply for the SoA, a gaming or gambling site must have been in operation for at least one year and must be a member of the IGC . It must be licensed to operate lawfully in the jurisdiction in which it is based.

Throughout its six-year history, the IGC has advocated government licensing and rigorous regulation of online gaming or gambling. Its Seal program is not intended to be a substitute for the work of government regulators.

“It is important to note that strong as it is, the Seal of Approval is by no means designed to be a replacement for strict government regulation,” said Sue Schneider, chairman of the IGC. “Effective government regulation, in cooperation with the industry, is still the only way to move the Internet gaming or gambling industry, as a subset of e-commerce in general, to the next level of legitimacy.”

“The membership of the Interactive Gaming Council is naturally disappointed that the House of Representatives has chosen to pass H.R. 556. As has been the case with previous legislation in this area, a substantial misunderstanding of Internet gaming and of the Internet itself drives the bill."

HR 556, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Funding Prohibition Act of 2002, is a bill 'To prevent the use of certain bank instruments for unlawful Internet gambling, and for other purposes.' It is currently proceeding through the committee process.

Says Sue Schneider: “We take particular exception to the assertion that there is a link between Internet gaming and terrorism. Notwithstanding the reckless statements some have made, there has never even been a credible allegation that terrorists have used Internet gaming for money laundering. Internet gaming involves credit card transactions with a clear record of every wager. Money laundering is extremely difficult in a situation where every electronic transaction is recorded. Internet gaming is no different from any other form of e-commerce with respect to money laundering; perhaps the only difference is that our industry is subject to greater law enforcement scrutiny.

“It bears mentioning that if the Leach bill were to become law, it would most likely result in the development of settlement solutions that banks cannot recognize and block - truly blind e-cash. This does not exist today because there is no market for it. However, it is safe to say that, if the Leach bill becomes law, some portion of the 4.7 million Americans who like to wager on-line would find seek alternative ways to bet, and some of these new settlement mechanisms would undoubtedly have unintended consequences.

“We take seriously the concerns expressed by members of Congress about the problem of minors gambling, and our members undertake steps to prevent this. However, protection of children would be better accomplished through a robust program of licensing and regulation. The IGC will continue to accomplish as much as industry self-regulation can to prevent money-laundering, underage gambling, and other social goals; but we again call on legislators to recognize that governmental regulation, and not prohibition, is the means to accomplish that.

“Time Magazine recently published its list of the 100 Worst Ideas of the 20th Century - unsurprisingly, alcohol prohibition was selected as the single dumbest idea. George Santayana warned us that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. We can only hope that the prohibitionists in Congress find themselves reading about the 1920’s sometime soon.”

The IGC has more than 70 members, who operate or supply services to most of the reputable interactive gambling sites on the World Wide Web. To help parents protect their children, IGC members are encouraged to participate in the self-labeling system of the Internet Content Rating Association. The IGC has developed a Code of Conduct for its members, and a program called Helping Hand to assist problem gamblers.

A comprehensive report on the online gambling situation in a number of offshore jurisdictions is available in the Tax-News Reports shop at

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