eCOGRA Chairman Appointed as Officer of British Empire

9 January 2004

LONDON – (Press Release) -- Michael Hirst, recently appointed Chairman of eCOGRA, the online gaming industry regulatory and player assurance body, has been appointed an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) in Britain's 2004 New Year Honours List.

The award for services to Britain's tourist industry acknowledges his work as Chairman of the cross-industry and government group, which represents the conference, meetings, exhibition, outdoor events, incentive travel and corporate hospitality sectors, since its creation in 1999. He was voted "Personality of the Year 2003" by the readers of Meetings & Incentive Travel for his work for Britain's business tourism.

Michael Hirst is a former board member of the Ladbroke Group Plc, now known as the Hilton Group. He became Executive Chairman of its hotel division and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Hilton International in 1990. He was voted 1993 "Corporate Hotelier of the World" by the readers of HOTELS Magazine.

Commenting on his appointment, Michael Hirst said, "Whilst I am naturally honoured to be receiving this award, it signifies enormous appreciation to all those involved in the UK business tourism sector for the important contribution they make. I hope I can achieve the same sense of purpose and recognition for the integrity and professionalism of the online gaming industry in it's treatment of players and provision of fair play".

Michael Hirst has extensive experience in gaming having held responsibility for Hilton International's land based casinos and has acted as an advisor to several businesses in the online sector where he provides strategic and business development advice to software and operating companies.

He is also a consultant to CB Richard Ellis Hotels, the world's leading hotel real estate advisory firm and an advisor to several tourism, hospitality and leisure companies in the UK and internationally.

"We are absolutely thrilled with Michael's award, and this further confirms that eCOGRA is extremely privileged by his appointment as Chairman of the organisation," said Andrew Beveridge, CEO of eCOGRA. He added, "Michael will no doubt compliment the integrity and experience of eCOGRA's other independent directors, and provide the organisation with all-round and in-depth experience of international regulation and commercial operation at Board level."