E-Commerce Survey Could Benefit I-Gaming Industry

8 July 2005

A web-based survey underwritten by the Interactive Gaming Council could shed light into online consumers confidence, or lack there of, in dealing with e-commerce and could even lead to a standard code of practice for player disputes for Web-based gambling operators.

The survey, which will go live on Monday July 11, is the work of University of Sydney School of Business professor Dr. Rohan Miller and came to fruition after a dispute between an IGC member casino and a group of players.

The IGC's executive director Rick Smith, said the operator perceived the players as a bonus abusers and was unwilling to pay what the players felt was owed to them. Smith said the operator agreed to pay the amount to the IGC under the assumption that the funds would be used to conduct a survey that could benefit players and operators alike, the players agreed.

Miller has been working on the project for some time now and said the series of questions that are asked deal with a variety of subjects and are designed to find out what online companies can do to reduce the perceptions of risk when doing business online.

"There is a whole set of rules and standards that apply to consumers and what they perceive as risks in doing business across all sectors of commerce," he said. "The problem is that for e-commerce those rules really don't apply and no one has taken the iniative to find out what rules do apply online."

Miller said the IGC was an ideal candidate to partner with on the project, since the online gambling industry "is a real leader of e-commerce."

"I know the IGC sees self-regulation as one of its leading principals and this survey could go along way in that direction."

Smith said even though the survey started as a way to come up with better player dispute resolution practices, it has evolved to include other areas that are important to consumers.

The survey includes a series of questions in which respondents are asked to agree or disagree (through a sliding scale), about the importance of an online merchant or operator being based in a regulated market, having the proper licenses, and whether or not they belong to trade associations.

Questions are also asked about the importance of a third party in resolving disputes between operators and consumers. Consumers are asked to rate the importance of having a third party resolve issues and then the importance of having both sides comply with the decisions of a third party arbitrator.

Smith said the survey results will shed some light onto the methodology currently used for player dispute resolution and go a long way in establishing a best practice for resolving player disputes.

Miller said he is hopeful that the IGC’s membership will help promote the survey and said if 200 respondents fill the survey out it would be a good sampling, if he can get 1,000 respondents he would be "ecstatic."

Smith said he has already communicated with the IGC membership in hopes they will post the link to the survey on their sites and include it in any marketing e-mails they send out to players. He has also been in contact with other trade groups and operators that have been receptive to the idea of promoting the survey.

Miller said the advantage of doing the survey online, instead of through traditional means like the telephone or face-to-face, is that he can customize the questions. "We can ask a simple yes or no question on one page and then depending on how the respondent answers, the next page will have a different set of questions," he said. "The information we can get from each of those responses after they answered the first yes or no question can be invaluable into gaining insight beyond the simple yes or no findings."

Smith and Miller said they are hoping that industry operators, software suppliers and others can help promote the survey by spreading the link. The survey can be found by going to: http://asr3.com/sm/login.asp?anom=112x1x1.

Nobody knows where Kevin Smith came from. He simply showed up one day and started writing articles for IGN. We liked him, so we decided to keep him. We think you'll like him too. Kevin can be reached at kevin@igamingnews.com.