Self Regulation and Responsible Gaming

4 October 2002

According to Keith Furlong of Catania Consulting Group, "While most legitimate Internet gaming operators agree that the industry will never meet its full potential without the credibility provided to players by government regulation, there has been limited response from governments throughout the world."

As a consequence of the perceived void of strong regulation, the Internet gaming industry has looked at alternatives for advancing the credibility of legitimate operators.

Advancing Self Regulation

In early as 1996, leaders in Interactive gaming from throughout the world created a non-profit trade association, incorporated in Canada, that now represents more than 100 providers of online gambling businesses. Since its inception, the Interactive Gaming Council's mission has been to design a blueprint for responsible self-regulatory industry standards.

The initial framework for the IGC's role in the development of a blueprint was the establishment of the IGC Code of Conduct, which listed ten areas of concern that operators, policy makers, regulators and players have identified as potential problem areas. The list includes: regulatory compliance; accountability; consumer privacy and data protection; truth in advertising; dispute resolution and audit trails; limiting access by minors; controlling compulsive gambling; banking and transaction processing; prize payouts; and corporate citizenship.

Progressively, two of the ten points are at the heart of a "best practices" Interactive responsible gaming program.

Responsible Gaming and Self Regulation

The Code of Conduct has been a positive development toward setting an industry standard on responsible gaming for Internet gaming companies and was further refined with the IGC membership's push for higher levels of self regulation, compliance and accreditation--a Seal of Approval.

The Seal of Approval provides a "next step" of reassurance that IGC members are not fly-by-night operators whose intent is short-term profits via unfair games. Through this program, operators display a logo or seal on their site that indicates to customers that the operator has agreed to a strong code of ethical conduct as well as a review of the software that runs their games.

To further advance responsible gaming, the IGC has invited a group of international experts in the field of responsible gaming to assist in the design and development of what will surely become the high water-mark of interactive responsible gaming code. While the final report is still being reviewed and refined by the IGC and the advisory group, the commitment of IGC is clear: to advance conduct, programs and services that mitigate problems associated with compulsive gambling and underage gambling.

The IGC's work and commitment to responsible gaming is undeniably positive, yet the best solution for the success of Internet gambling is government regulation. According to Furlong, "It is the IGC's contention that effective government regulation is the only way to move the Internet gaming industry, as a subset of e-commerce in general, to the next level of legitimacy."

There is still much more to accomplish in the areas of mitigating compulsive gambling and preventing underage gambling. However, interactive gaming operators can come onboard the responsible gaming track at any time by reviewing previously published articles on responsible gaming and implementing appropriate elements into their site. The past articles provide practical, step-by-step approaches and directions to begin or advance your site's responsible gaming program. A series of articles I have published on on responsible gaming can be found in the Elizabeth M. George Article Archive on iGaming News.

For further information about interactive responsible gaming strategies contact info@nati.org.




Elizabeth George is the chief executive officer of the North American Training Institute (www.nati.org). For more than a decade, NATI has provided responsible gaming programs for the gaming and wagering industries throughout the world. Its programs include a 24-hour compulsive gambling Helpline service with language translations, conceptualizing of company responsible gaming mission statements, policy statements, employee assistance programs, program collaborations and customized responsible gaming multimedia programs. For further information, contact: North American Training Institute, 314 West Superior Street, Suite 702, Duluth, MN 55802, USA or (218) 722-1503.