Online casino gaming in New Zealand has grown rapidly in the last few years and Kiwi players have an incredible variety of sites to choose from. But while the rise of the online casino sector has led to more competition, better bonuses and an ever-increasing array of game options as operators try to attract new players, there has also been a downside.
Although the vast majority of sites used by New Zealand players are above board and reputable, there are also a small number of unregulated, unscrupulous sites. Those who play through these sites could be in for a nasty shock as many of the dodgier operators do not guarantee that their games are fair, and in some cases, may even refuse to pay out winnings. To stay safe when playing casino games on line, the best policy is to look out for eCOGRA.
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What is eCOGRA?
ECommerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance or eCOGRA was set up by a group of several significant industry figures in the early years of online casino gaming. It is an independent organization that lays out the ground rules for the industry, with the aim of ensuring that players are protected and that online casinos adhere to high standards. It has become the world’s foremost online casino regulatory body, and is widely respected as a protector and enforcer of standards of fairness and customer service.
The history of eCOGRA
ECOGRA was formed in London back in 2003, and at the time of its launch, was the first and only service for regulating the online gaming business, ushering in a new era of higher standards and better player protection. Since then, eCOGRA has grown to become the most important regulatory body in the industry, covering sites based in a wide range of countries from the UK and Denmark to Gibraltar, Spain, Canada and New Zealand.
At their formation, eCOGRA faced a challenge: how do you regulate an industry that has a global spread and depends completely on computers to provide players with a fair gaming experience? The process of establishing the right standards and working out how they were to be enforced took some time, but these standards are now laid down in the eCOGRA Generally Accepted Practices (eGAP). Through eGAP, the organization lays out exactly how a responsible operator should behave to ensure fairness and player protection.
ECOGRA is the only regulatory body specialising in online gambling to earn ISO/IEC 17021-1:2015 accreditation, an international information security management standard that assesses the confidentiality and integrity of any business’s operations. It also gives eCOGRA the authority to carry out third-party audits and issue certifications to compliant casinos.
So what does eCOGRA do?
To make sure that its rules are being followed, eCOGRA carries out annual visits through compliance agents, who review any operator that wants to have eCOGRA accreditation. These visits are in-depth and rigorous. They also deal with complaints and disputes between players and casinos, ensuring that online operators are accountable for their behaviour.
Any casino operators that wants to earn the industry-standard eCOGRA accreditation has to make an application for the Play it Safe Seal. To be awarded the seal, a casino site has to be able to show that its games are fair and transparent, that they are operating as a responsible business, and that they are treating their customers properly. Sites that earn the Play it Safe Seal are regularly evaluated by eCOGRA to check compliance with eGAP.
What does eGAP require operators to do?
EGAP consists of several policies, with which casinos have to comply if they wish to be accredited by eCOGRA. There are a number of protocols to follow, including proper information security, adequate handling of financial transactions, and regular reviews and maintenance of a site’s software. Under eGAP rules, online casinos also have to guarantee fairness in all of their games, operate responsible advertising campaigns and take proper steps to prevent all illegal activity, such as money laundering.
How does eCOGRA ensure fairness?
Without doubt, one of the most significant concerns for New Zealand online casino players is fairness. You want to be sure that the games you wager on are not rigged, either unintentionally or deliberately, and that the outcomes are fair and truly random. To earn their Play It Safe Seal, online casinos have to prove to the experts at eCOGRA that its games are completely fair. To further reinforce fair gaming standards, eCOGRA also works closely with the software gaming companies to minimise potential unfairness at source.
ECOGRA is able to check both the inputs and outputs of a casino’s software by employing a type of testing called Total Gaming Transaction Review (TGTR).This enables them to confirm payout percentages, check through transactions and carry out transaction spot checks. Along with in-depth analysis and regular testing of the casino software, eCOGRA is also equipped to assess an online casino’s Random Number Generator and payout percentages as part of its drive to ensure fairness for all New Zealand online casino players.
If you’re playing with an online casino, you want to know that the operator you are using is reputable, that your personal data will be kept secure, that the games you are playing are all fair and above board, and that if you encounter a problem, you will have your issue dealt with quickly, effectively and fairly.
One way to ensure peace of mind if you’re playing an online casino in New Zealand is to look for sites that are accredited by eCOGRA. There are other third-party casino accreditation organisations out there, but to be absolutely sure you are playing a reputable casino site, eCOGRA is the name to look out for. As the world’s leading online casino certification body, you can trust that eCOGRA will only give its approval to sites that are genuine, fair and properly run, and its Play It Safe Seal is the best way to guarantee peace of mind.