In the absence of a worldwide consumer protection policy for Internet gambling, somebody’s got to step in between players and online gambling services in the event of a dispute. Keith Furlong, deputy executive director of the Interactive Gaming Council (IGC) is often that person.
The IGC, a trade association for the Internet gambling industry, has established guidelines for running online gambling businesses fairly. One of Furlong’s chief tasks has been making sure the guidelines are being followed. If you file a complaint with the IGC regarding unfair practices, it will more than likely land in his hands.
Q: Can you provide a synopsis of the IGC’s Seal of Approval?
A: As the IGC has evolved, the association has recognized the need to provide industry 789betting members with an accreditation that the public will recognize and trust. The Seal of Approval (SOA) program allows operators to display a seal that indicates to consumers the site’s willingness to adhere to a new, higher level of compliance as a supplement to existing government regulatory regimes.
The Seal is an actual logo that is placed on interactive gambling sites to symbolize a willingness of the operator to adhere to a higher level of integrity and responsibility. The logo is currently served from a dedicated third-party server in order to protect, to the best of our technical abilities, its authenticity and to allow for instantaneous removal of the seal should the IGC revoke its approval.
The program allows players to have some reassurance that Internet gaming sites that display the IGC’s SOA logo have agreed to higher standards, a strong code of conduct and random monitoring by a third-party industry association.
The program also provides an important mechanism for dissatisfied players in the form of dispute resolution. The SOA establishes a system where a designated compliance officer can intervene and mediate a resolution when there is evidence that any attempted resolution, between a Seal of Approval member site and the consumer, has not been effective.
Q: How many sites currently display the seal?
A: The first sites to participate in the program and display the seal are VIPsports.com, VIPsoccer.com, Casinofortune.com, Mapau.com, Miamibeachcasino.com, BetandChat.com and BetandChat.net.
Q: Can you briefly explain the IGC’s procedure for fielding consumer complaints?
A:Players with complaints about online gaming operators should bring their complaints directly to the IGC. They can submit them directly at the IGC web site.
Our goal is to work with both players and site operators to come to a diplomatic resolution as expediently as possible. With limited resources, however, there are occasions where the response time may not be as rapid as one would ideally like.
Unfortunately, there is no simple way to summarize the SOA compliant review process. The important point, in our opinion, is that there is a process that exists for mediating complaints with regard to SOA members.
Q: How do you deal with disputes in which players are accusing casinos of cheating while casinos say it’s the players who are cheating?
A: The IGC ultimately has little authority over the manner that member companies respond to consumer complaints. That being said, IGC member companies work with the IGC on player complaints as a means toward increasing credibility within the Internet gambling industry. In addition, under the Seal of Approval program, applicants agree to adhere to a dispute resolution process for player complaints.
In our opinion, the Seal of Approval program provides an important mechanism for dissatisfied players in the form of dispute resolution, establishing a system where a designated compliance officer, initially the IGC Executive Director, can intervene and mediate a resolution when there is evidence that any attempted resolution, between a Seal of Approval member site and the consumer, has not been effective.
Q: What can be done to resolve the bonus abuse situation (in which players register numerous accounts at online gambling sites so they can cash in on multiple signup bonuses)? Has the IGC developed a policy for keeping this from happening again?
A: While the IGC is confident that our members provide, and will continue to provide, responsible and fair promotions, it is important to point out that there will always be players anxious for the opportunity to corrupt a promotional system, especially since there is the potential to profit.
For example, last summer Casino Fortune and Casino Mapau ran an automated promotional program that was victim to player abuse. According to a Casino Fortune representative, one or more people generated a series of inappropriate claim numbers and posted the link and claim numbers of the unpublicized ones on various Internet message boards. As soon as this activity was discovered, the promotion was shut down. The individual who posted the claim numbers can claim responsibility for ruining this promotion opportunity for honest players.
While the difficulty often arises because of the scrupulous activities of a few players, the process of dealing with these problems, jointly, is akin to growing pains associated with our expanding industry.
Q: What’s the most ridiculous complaint you’ve heard?
A: Good question. The player who submitted a complaint directly against the IGC has to rank as one of the most ridiculous complaints that I have witnessed. The player claimed to have deposited monies and placed real wagers with the IGC, at our web site. I had to gently explain that he/she was incorrect because the IGC is not an Internet gaming site, and there is technically no way to place wagers or play games with us.
Q: Do you have any advice for avoiding sites that could be trouble?
A: I would advise players to avoid sites that do not have information about licensing or readily accessible customer service contact numbers. The smart play is to do some due diligence before placing real wagers with an online gaming site.
Ask questions such as, Where is the casino site licensed? Are there responsible player protections required in the licensing jurisdiction? Can you easily contact customer service? Are rules and regulations of the site clearly stated? Is the site registered with the IGC or other reputable organization?