The Interactive Gaming Council’s Player Protection Initiative:
The Seal of Approval
By Rick Smith and Keith Furlong
A common question: How big is Internet gambling?
Since the industry is inadequately regulated in most
parts of the world, and
most company financial reports are not readily available, accurate
are difficult to come by. It is fair to say, however, that Internet
quickly grown from an industry of relative obscurity to an industry
be growing at a very high rate, with some reports quoting annual growth
for the foreseeable future.
Growth is a reality. According to estimates
by The River City Group, Inc.,
a Missouri-based firm, there were now now over 1400 gambling sites.
Christiansen Capital Advisors estimates that Internet gambling expenditures
for the year 2001 will eclipse the $3 billion mark. The number
to rise to $4.5 billion in 2002 and then $6.3 billion in 2003.
dollars are reportedly being bet over the Internet with very little,
oversight or guarantee that the operators of these sites are fair and
What is the Interactive Gaming Council?
The Interactive Gaming Council (the “IGC”) is an
trade association of over 100 companies from around the globe that
involved with the interactive gaming industry. The IGC was created
November 1996 as an affiliate of the Washington DC-based Interactive
Services Association. It is now headquartered in Vancouver, being
incorporated in Canada in March 2000.
Each operating member of the IGC is required to be
licensed to lawfully
conduct interactive gaming from the jurisdiction within which it operates,
and, as a member of the IGC, agrees to abide by the IGC’s Code of Conduct,
copy of which can be found at the IGC web site (www.igcouncil.org).
most industry codes, the IGC’s Code of Conduct is a living document
currently being reviewed.
The IGC’s mission is to: provide a forum to address
issues and advance
common interests in the global interactive gaming industry; establish
and responsible trade guidelines and practices that enhance consumer
confidence in interactive gaming products and services, and serve as
industry’s public policy advocate and information clearinghouse.
important role of the Interactive Gaming Council is to advocate for
adoption of strong government regulation of the Internet gaming industry
throughout the World. To achieve this objective, the Council
promotes cooperation within, and between, industry and government.
is proactive in its pursuit of this goal.
One of the main goals of the IGC is to communicate
and encourage active
debate among legislative and regulatory bodies about the future of
gambling, and to this end, various representatives of the IGC have
seminars and conferences, as well as at informal meetings, and submissions
have been forwarded when opportunity presents.
Within the last year, IGC representatives have testified
about the pros and
cons of Internet gaming regulation before at least four important US
namely the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States (NCLGS),
National Council of State Legislatures, the Nevada Gaming Control Commission
and the New Jersey General Assembly Commerce, Tourism, Gaming and Military
and Veteran’s Affairs Committee, during full-day hearings in Rhode
Chicago, Las Vegas and Trenton, respectively.
The IGC has also been proactive throughout the international
gaming industry, for example, providing written testimony to the Gambling
Review Body in the U.K. In addition, the IGC has made an important
achievement with the launching of its Seal of Approval program.
IGC's Seal of Approval
As the IGC has evolved, the association has recognized
the need to provide
industry members with an accreditation that the public will recognize
trust. The Seal of Approval program (the “SOA”) allows operators
a seal that indicates to consumers the site’s willingness to adhere
new, higher level of compliance as a supplement to existing government
The Seal is an actual logo that is placed on interactive
gambling site to
symbolize a willingness of the operator to adhere to a higher level
integrity and responsibility. The Seal of Approval logo is currently
from a dedicated third party server in order to protect, to the best
technical abilities, its authenticity and to allow for instantaneous
of the seal should the IGC revoke its approval.
While there are no guarantees, the IGC believes that
the SOA is an
important step toward increasing the legitimacy of the Internet gaming
industry. The program allows players to have some reassurance
gaming sites that display the IGC’s SOA logo have agreed to higher
standards, a strong Code of Conduct, and random monitoring by a third
The Seal of Approval program also provides an important
dissatisfied players in the form of a more “formalized” dispute resolution
procedure. The SOA establishes a system where a designated Compliance
Officer can intervene and mediate a resolution when there is evidence
any attempted resolution, between a Seal of Approval member site and
consumer, has not been effective.
The SOA is by no means designed to be a replacement
for strict government
regulation. In fact, as previously mentioned, the IGC has been
advocating strict licensing and regulation by governments. It
is the IGC’s
contention that effective government regulation is the only way to
Internet gaming industry, as a subset of eCommerce in general, to the
level of legitimacy.
The first three companies to participate in
the program and display the SOA
logo are VIPsports.com, operator of VIPsports.com, VIPsoccer.com, and
VIPcasinos.com, the Sunny Group Casinos (www.sunnycasinos.com),
Casinofortune.com, Mapau.com, and Miamibeachcasino.com, and BetandChat,
operator of betandchat.com and betandchat.org.
Interactive Gaming Council (IGC) is the leading trade association for
the international interactive
gaming industry, with its membership operating
or supplying services to,
most of the reputable gaming and wagering sites on
the World Wide Web.
Additional information about the IGC, including
membership details, can
be found at the association’s web site,
Smith is the Executive Director of the Interactive Gaming Council.
is a former regulator with
the Queensland Office of Gaming Regulation in
Australia and a former New
Zealand gaming regulator.
Furlong serves as the Deputy Executive Director of the IGC, and is
the Vice-President of the
Catania Consulting Group, Inc., a New Jersey-based
gaming consultancy and lobbying
firm. He is a former Public Information
Officer and Legislative
Liaison with the New Jersey Division of Gaming