7 March 2005 Industry must be more forthright in defending players’ interests
Andrew Beveridge, Chief Executive of the international regulatory body eCOGRA spoke out today on the recent discovery that the Gambling Federation Group software download had for some months included a covert element of malicious software (malware) designed to block users from the sites of competitors.
“eCOGRA believes it is the responsibility of every organisation that represents the interests of the online gaming industry and its players to send a strong signal that the use of this sort of tactic is unethical, dishonest and totally unacceptable to any responsible business.” he said.
“Including malware in a download to a player’s computer without his knowledge goes far beyond the routine inclusion of harmless advertisement tracking or log on recognition “cookies” and must be discouraged in the strongest possible terms in both the interests of the players and the poor perceptions of the industry that it creates.
“Trade organisations have been rightly criticised by the player community for their lack of action resulting from the GFED debacle. At eCOGRA, we’re already vigilant in ensuring that this sort of practice does not happen at any of our sealed casinos”.
Beveridge emphasised that in the case of an eCOGRA Seal casino, there is little likelihood of this kind of situation arising due to enforced policies on management and financial probity verification, in-depth inspection of all operational aspects of an applicant, subsequent ongoing monitoring and review and detailed and specific regulations with which eCOGRA Seal casinos are required to comply.
“In the event that an operator is found to be in contravention of any of the eGAP requirements, this is reported to the compliance committee.” Beveridge revealed. “If there are no relevant mitigating circumstances, the committee should not hesitate to withdraw the Seal. eCOGRA’s structure, staffing and policies and procedures has been very carefully constituted to provide for effective self-regulation. Any member or approved operator that does not comply with the organisation’s detailed standards effectively undermines the core values and purpose of the initiative, and simply cannot be tolerated,” he said.
“It is to be regretted that silence and apparent lack of action from industry representative bodies on this issue could result in all being labelled as ineffectual by both outsiders and the playing community. If industry codes and rules already in place are not enforced and supported, it seriously damages the credibility of the organisations concerned,” he concluded.
The Gambling Federation malware issue is still the subject of heated discussion among online players and came to light when a gambler discovered the blocking malware within a standard GFED casino software he had downloaded to his computer. IT specialists in the player community assisted in isolated and identifying the malware, and other players warned by this found that their GFED downloads had also included the hostile element.
Leading gambling portals took up the issue and GFED issued a contrite admission through both its PR manager, and later its CEO Flaviano Fogli. Fogli issued a guide for the removal of the malware and publicly admitted that it had been an ill-advised practice.