The Interactive Gaming Council (IGC) is an international non-profit trade association of over 100 companies from around the globe that are involved with the interactive gaming industry. The IGC was created in 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, a copy of which can be found at the IGC web site (www.igcouncil.org). As with most industry codes, the IGC’s Code of Conduct is a living document and is 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 fair and responsible trade guidelines and practices that enhance consumer confidence in interactive gaming products and services, and serve as the industry’s public policy advocate and information clearinghouse.
An important role of the Interactive Gaming Council is to advocate for the adoption of strong government regulation of the Internet gaming industry throughout the World. To achieve this objective, the Council actively promotes cooperation within, and between, industry and government. The IGC 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 Internet gambling, and to this end, various representatives of the IGC have spoken at 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 bodies, namely the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States (NCLGS), the 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 Island, Chicago, Las Vegas and Trenton, respectively.
The IGC has also been proactive throughout the international Internet 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 and trust. The Seal of Approval program (the “SOA”) allows operators to display a seal that indicates to consumers the site’s willingness to adhere to a new, higher level of compliance as a supplement to existing government regulatory regimes.
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 of integrity and responsibility. The Seal of Approval logo is currently served from a dedicated third party server in order to protect, to the best of our technical abilities, its authenticity and to allow for instantaneous removal 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 that Internet 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 party industry association.
The Seal of Approval program also provides an important mechanism for 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 that any attempted resolution, between a Seal of Approval member site and the 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 actively advocating strict licensing and regulation by governments. It is the IGC’s contention that effective government regulation is the only way to move the Internet gaming industry, as a subset of eCommerce in general, to the next level of legitimacy.