What The eCOGRA Safe And Fair Seal Means For Online Casinos

Many players tend to think that they’re on their own when it comes to choosing where they want to gamble—especially in countries where online gambling must be done offshore, like the United States. Of course, you can look for things like reviews, game providers, and licenses held by any casino you’re considering, but do any of those things really provide concrete evidence that any one casino is more trustworthy than another?

Not many online casinos have the eCOGRA seal, but here you can find one that we recommend and is also certified by the entity:

eCOGRA Approved Casinos

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Intro

You can look all over the Internet gathering reviews about an online casino site, but you get no guarantee that something hasn’t drastically changed between the time a review was written and the time you discovered and read it. You really don’t even know if the person writing a good review is telling the truth for that matter. It could just be a made-up name used by a casino employee trying to boost the site’s reputation.

It doesn’t have to be that way, however, if you know where to look. It is possible to find real, legitimate, and legally recognized certifications that an online casino is everything it represents itself to be on its welcome page. There is a globally recognized, independent, third-party organization that is completely on the side of the players. They will certify that the way an online casino operates is safe and secure as well as giving you the peace of mind to play with the confidence that all of the games they provide are completely fair.

The eCOGRA Safe And Fair Certification

eCOGRA—eCommerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance—is a non-profit organisation based in the UK that specializes in verification of fair gaming practices and player protection through regular testing and certification of online gambling operations. It’s important to note that while the organization is based in the UK, it is not affiliated with the British government in any way and provides services all over the world.

The organization came into being in 2003 and since then has grown to become the global leader in independent fairness certifications designed to assist with self-regulation efforts within the online gambling industry. eCOGRA is completely neutral. They are not affiliated with any government, nor do they have any vested interest in any part of the gaming industry. This ensures that their audits, as well as any certifications that are awarded as a result of those audits, meet the highest standards of integrity.

Lending even more credibility to the importance of the Safe and Fair seal, eCOGRA has received the United Kingdom Accreditation Service approval for proficient testing, calibration, inspection, and certification.

eCOGRA only awards their Safe and Fair seal to an operator after that operator has passed all required tests. Certified operators must also pass repeated testing each year in order to retain their certified status.

In addition to providing certifications for online casino sites and operators, evaluations of online casino software providers are undertaken separately. Developers that meet the required standards are given the eCOGRA Certified Software Seal. Sites and software developers are collectively tested against what are referred to as the Generally Accepted Practices, or eGAP, requirements.

The eCOGRA Certification Process

Obtaining an eCOGRA certification is anything but fast and simple for online casino operators, no matter where they operate from. The entire operation will be audited from top to bottom. eCOGRA will be looking for any potential flaws in their systems and processes as well as risks or dangers to consumers. Everything from servers and software to banking and employee training practices will be examined in depth.

The eGAP standards are high and all examinations and evaluations are carried out by professionals possessing specialized knowledge of the field that they work in. Their processes are designed to be comprehensive as well as exceedingly accurate. Certification teams include lawyers, chartered accountants, software experts and certified information systems auditors, among others.

eCOGRA states the following 9 points as the core objectives of their overall mission

  1. The protection of vulnerable customers.
  2. The prevention of underage gaming.
  3. Combating fraudulent and criminal behaviour.
  4. Protection of customer privacy and safeguarding of information.
  5. Prompt and accurate customer payments.
  6. Fair gaming (e.g. RNG and RTP game evaluations).
  7. Responsible marketing.
  8. Commitment to customer satisfaction and support.
  9. Secure, safe and reliable operating environment.
eCOGRA Seal for Online Casinos

eGAP Standards For Online Casinos

There are many standards that online casinos must meet and uphold in order to comply with eGAP standards and achieve or maintain their Safe and Fair certification. Casino sites must have player protection and responsible gambling pages that include:

  • Content addressing the dangers of gambling beyond your means.
  • Information on how to reach helplines.
  • A self-assessment test for problem gambling risk potential.

The site also has to list the protection measures they have implemented to reduce excessive gambling and there can be no dishonest information on the site regarding the operator’s support of responsible gambling.

There are also strict requirements for players’ accounts and financial information. The denomination(s) of credit and currency units must be clearly displayed. Players must also have access to a full account history that shows there deposits and withdrawals along with wagers, wins, and losses at least the previous 60 days. There must also be functions available to players that allow them to initiate a self-imposed “cooling off” period and set deposit limits.

Certified online casinos must also demonstrate that they have a thorough understanding of responsible gaming practices and train their employees on those practices, too. Their home page must state clearly that the site is not intended for anyone under 18 years old (or other age that might be set by their particular regulatory authority) and contain a warning against underage play.

Casinos have to implement systems and policies to meet AML (anti-money laundering and CFT (combating the financing of terrorism) standards as well. There must be a senior management employee appointed to oversee all AML/CFT practices, ensure data protection, and make sure that employees are trained to identify and report fraud. The operator’s IT systems also have to protect player data from unauthorized access or disclosure, alteration, accidental loss, and unlawful destruction. Confidentiality must be ensured for all player data and sensitive information and there must always be clear communication regarding procedures for depositing and withdrawing.

eCOGRA Standards For Software Providers

Industry software providers and developers can receive the eCOGRA Certified Software Seal. These companies are evaluated based on several different facets of their business practices such as financial data and fraud prevention controls. The security of their IT infrastructure is also examined to make sure that all of their software is implemented and maintained in a safe and secure environment.

The actual software must pass eCOGRA’s Total Gaming Transaction Review. The TGTR examines live gaming transactions to make sure that everything is fair and data processing is accurate. Additionally, the random number generators (RNG) used chance games like video slot machines are checked along with the real-world accuracy of any given game’s return to player (RTP) rate.

eCOGRA Approved Software Providers

To achieve a passing result, the software must provide and maintain valid, complete, and correct player data. The player return rates must also meet a minimum threshold. Developers have to generate full reports on all changes that are made to game parameters and demonstrate that all testing and internal development work is done on systems that are completely isolated from live games. Game results must all be clearly visible and all transactions that involve real players’ funds must also be recoverable in case of any type of system failure.

How To Check eCOGRA Certification

It is exceptionally easy to check the certification status of any casino site displaying either the eCOGRA logo or the Safe and Fair seal. All you have to do is click on the seal or logo and you’ll be taken to the eCOGRA website and shown the unique certificate that belongs to the site you clicked through from.

The first screen you see will contain general information which simply states that the casino site has passed all required evaluations and has received its certification. You’ll see the domain name of the site displayed at the bottom of the digital certificate.

If you scroll down past that first page, you’ll find more technical and valuable information. The second page will show you the return to player (RTP) information about the different categories of games that are available on the site such as table games, video poker, and, of course, slots. Scrolling down still further will reveal the certifications for the random number generators (RNG) which are used to determine the results of various games.

Why The eCOGRA Safe And Fair Seal Is Especially Important For US Players

Basically, you can find the eCOGRA safe and fair seal at online casinos operating on regulated states within the U.S. No casino operating offshore will have access to this seal, until gambling regulation changes.

Regardless of where an online casino site is actually physically located, if they have received the Safe and Fair certification, you’ll know that the operator and their systems have been checked for legitimacy, fairness, and all-around sound business practices. This is an assurance that US players can’t get anywhere else.

Another benefit of playing at sites that are certified by eCOGRA is that the organization will also act as a neutral, third-party mediator if any type of dispute materializes between the player and the casino. In the case of countries like the UK, for example, UK casino players there can go through the UK Gambling Commission if they have a problem with a casino. Since most of the US is unregulated, though, US players have no such avenue of recourse. So knowing that you have somewhere to go if something really goes wrong is another big plus.

Look For The eCOGRA Safe And Fair Seal

Remember, even though eCOGRA is based in the UK, it is not a UK-only organisation. They work with online casinos, casino operators, and casino software developers all over the world. No matter where you are from or where you’d like to play, the Safe and Fair seal from eCOGRA is something you should look for on any casino site that you’re considering.

Sites bearing the eCOGRA logos have gone through the most rigorous safety and fairness testing available in the online gambling industry. When you play at a certified site, you’ll know that what you see is what you’re going to get and nothing shady is going to happen when you’re not looking.

LauraK

Blogger and Casino Fan, originally from Argentina.

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