The online gambling player protection and standards organisation eCOGRA has announced a change to its 7 person Board of Directors, in which Chris Hobbs, Head of Corporate Affairs at software developer Microgaming replaces Roger Raatgever as one of the Founder Directors of the independent, non-profit body. The other Founder Member seats are held by Bwin and 888.com.
Under the eCOGRA charter, the Board currently consists of three Member Directors and four Independent Directors.
The Independent Directors, to whom CEO Andrew Beveridge reports, are solely responsible for the executive control of eCOGRA and the activities of its powerful Seals Compliance and Audit Committees, which test and monitor "Safe and Fair" seal operators and control the award, review and if necessary revocation of the seals.
Chris Hobbs (45) is the senior executive responsible for corporate affairs at the Isle of Man-based Microgaming head office. Educated at the prestigious Kearsney College in South Africa and the University of Natal, he holds Bachelor degrees in Commerce (business finance, business administration and business data processing) and Science (pure and applied chemistry).
Prior to joining Microgaming in 2005, he held management positions at Sentrachem Limited in the chemical industry, and as a corporate banking executive for Absa Bank in Johannesburg and London.
eCOGRA's chairman of the Board, Michael Hirst OBE welcomed Hobbs and thanked Raatgever for his invaluable services to the organisation since it formed in 2003.
"During his term as a Director, Roger Raatgever has given his complete commitment to eCOGRA, during which time it has expanded well beyond its original remit and now covers many more operating and software companies than just the Founding Members," Hirst said. "His integrity, business and industry knowledge has been invaluable to the Board.
"We look forward to working with Chris Hobbs, who brings to the Board impressive management experience and credentials and a strong commitment to player protection and responsible gambling."
eCOGRA is the only not-for-profit organisation within the online gaming industry that offers player assurance and protection with regard to fair gaming and responsible operator behaviour.
The Independent Directors of eCOGRA are: Bill Galston, OBE, retired Chief Inspector for the Gaming Board of Great Britain; Bill Henbrey, former head of gaming services at leading international accounting firm BDO; Frank Catania, former Assistant Attorney General and Director of New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement and Michael Hirst, OBE, a former board member of Ladbroke Group Plc, and formerly Chairman and CEO of Hilton International.
The organisation's Seals Compliance Committee is comprised only of Independent Directors, and is responsible for:
• Determining the rules and procedures under which the seals may be awarded;
• Proposing and approving changes to eGAP;
• Considering suitability of membership applications and eGAP review applications from standalone software suppliers and operators, and where necessary requesting additional information to complete the acceptance process;
• Approving new seals and renewing existing seals after considering eGAP review findings submitted by the Compliance Manager and any other information which has come to the attention of the Committee;
• Revoking or suspending seals following significant operator and / or software supplier contravention of the eGAP requirements; and
• Requesting special investigations by eCOGRA employees or independent experts into alleged contraventions of the eGAP requirements.
Over 130 tier one online casinos and poker rooms currently use eCOGRA test and audit services, with 49 operations currently undergoing inspection and review for its "Safe and Fair" accreditation seals.