Leading online gaming player protection and auditing group eCOGRA is now more independent, after undergoing a shift in ownership.

The gambling software testing and player protection group was originally founded back in 2003 by online gaming heavyweights Microgaming and 888 (then called Virtual Holdings). Bwin was among the owners.

“Though over the years eCOGRA has demonstrated its independence in audit and granting of approvals, niggling questions have been raised from time to time regarding its true independence from its founder owners,” writes Adam Richards at CasinoAdvisor.com.

“Now even those will be removed because eCOGRA has been bought out by its management in a successful initiative led by chief executive Andrew Beveridge,” Richards continues.

Although the ownership change does mean that the organization will still be in the hands of executives in the casino industry, there are some more specific rules being laid down regarding future potential conflicts of interest (or perceptions thereof).

Among those stipulations: eCOGRA’s owners can no longer be “software providers, online casino operators or others players in the online gaming arena,” per the CasinoAdvisor.com article.

This change “is significant because while eCOGRA has always professed independence, many players have always been skeptical since gaming companies founded it,” writes Dan Katz at Poker News Daily.

Katz explains that, even though the owners have technically changed, operations are unlikely to. “The members of management that bought the organization will remain in place: Michael Hirst will be Chairman of the Board of Directors and Bill Galston, Bill Henbrey, Frank Catania, and Beveridge will be independent directors,” Katz points out.

“We are very fortunate that these highly experienced and respected figures in the industry will continue to make their considerable knowledge and business expertise available to us,” Beveridge said in a news release.

“The industry is maturing, and eCOGRA must be part of that evolving process,” Beveridge added. “The trend toward national or state regulatory regimes around the world is just one of the areas in which our professional services are increasingly in demand by companies and jurisdictions committed to ensuring that they are well prepared in all respects to meet the highest international standards.”

eCOGRA’s staff of technical experts and responsible gambling and audit specialists positions the group to offer premium Internet gambling business services, the news release adds, noting that the organization “enjoys business relationships with major trade associations and several international licensing jurisdictions.”

Perceptions of dependence or not, eCOGRA’s famous Safe and Fair seal of accreditation has indeed become the online gambling industry’s best-known indicator of high standards in fair gaming, commercial conduct, and customer respect. Some 150 websites currently hold the seal, the news release adds.

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