eCOGRA Suspends, Strips KGC Licensees of 'Safe and Fair' Seals

19 February 2008

Six Kahnawake-licensed online casinos last week had their eCOGRA "Safe and Fair" seals suspended, and one poker room, based in the same jurisdiction, was stripped of its seal.

eCOGRA -- or eCommerce Online Gambling Regulation and Assurance -- said in a prepared statement on Friday that an onsite review was recently conducted as part of the seal renewal process for Challenge Casino, Golden Reef Casino, I Big Casino, Music Hall Casino, Nostalgia Casino and UK Casino Club, all Microgaming-powered sites.

Each failed to comply with eCOGRA's Generally Accepted Practices -- a list of requirements to which online gaming sites must adhere in order to maintain their eCOGRA certification, eCOGRA said.

In a separate incident, Arctic Poker, also a Microgaming site licensed in Kahnawake, has been stripped of its certificate because it missed its deadline for review.

Tex Rees, eCOGRA fair gaming advocate, was unable to disclose any information other than to say that the organization was hoping to have the entire situation resolved this week and would be able to provide feedback by the end of the week.

eCOGRA and the Kahnawake Gaming Commission agreed in 2005 to work together to ensure companies operating under both entities are meeting common standards.

Subject to certain conditions, the KGC agreed that operators using software supplied by eCOGRA members would not be required to submit to review and monitoring processes the commission uses for other applicants and operators. The agreement also allowed the KGC to continue to use its own methods in conducting due diligence investigations on all applicants to determine their suitability as Kahnawake licensees.

But the KGC has been under a watchful eye lately, as it has been the recipient of bad PR in recent months -- first with an August cheating scandal at Absolute Poker which resulted in a $500,000 fine of the operator, followed by a September guilty plea by Montreal-based Cyber World Group, which ran through a server based on the Kahnawake reservation.

In January 2008 the KGC was extremely disappointed when the U.K. Gambling Commission rejected its advertising white list application. A spokesperson for the KGC said that they would keep a "door-is-always-open" attitude toward reapplying, but the two recent scandals and more bad press for its licensees may not bode well for the jurisdiction.

The KGC could not be reached today for comment.

Emily Swoboda is the senior staff writer at IGamingNews. She lives in St. Louis, Mo.