ex Rees says that of the 290 requests for mediation received by her office, 252 were accepted, the balance being in respect of online gambling venues outside eCogra’s sphere of influence. "Of these valid disputes, the FGA office found in favour of the player in 137 cases, or 54 percent of the disputes that involved "Safe and Fair" seal casinos and poker rooms," Rees said.
Then she added: "That’s an increase in player-decided cases of 22 percent, suggesting a better ’quality’ of complaint and we certainly noticed a decline in the number of irrelevant or rant complaints that contain insufficient information to be usefully considered. There was a 19% increase in the disputes received in this period compared to the last four months of 2006, which we believe is the result of an increased awareness of eCogra and the dispute mediation service, as well as new legal challenges affecting the industry."
Rees says that the main issue for the first 4 months of 2007 was US payment processing delays caused by the changes to US legislation as a result of the UIGEA. "There were higher than usual levels of slow-pay complaints, with 44 percent of all valid disputes rooted in this area," she revealed. "However, from the number of disputes received in the last few weeks it appears that this situation is pretty much coming under control," she commented.
The majority of other disputes were based on so-called “bonus abuse” issues, which tend to be time consuming to resolve. The FGA considered 78 allegations of unfair bonus abuse, or 31 percent of complaints accepted. "The incidence of this category of dispute has declined markedly following a professional policy note sent to all "Safe and Fair" operations by eCOGRA’s independent directors in mid-April," Rees said.
The 118 eCOGRA accredited online gambling sites attract an average of 0.53 dispute claims per month per site, up from 0.32 dispute claims per month per site recorded in the last four months of 2006.
Rees said that interest in eCOGRA activities had resulted in a three fold increase in traffic to the organisation’s website in the past year and revealed that unique visits continued to climb. "We are particularly pleased with this, as it indicates an increased awareness of our organisation and its player protecting achievements. Significant effort continues to be made to provide the online gambling public with useful information about eCOGRA and the professional and responsible side of online gambling," she said.