UNLV part of massive Internet study

Jul 18, 2006 3:44 AM

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in conjunction with an Internet gambling watchdog group, announced plans last week to conduct the world’s largest online gambling player survey.

Researchers have targeted 20,000 players for an Internet based survey, which will be supplemented by focus groups in six of the industry’s major markets.

"We believe this is the first time that the industry has tried to really identify what its customers — the players — want and what motivates them," said Andrew Beveridge, CEO of eCOGRA, an independent watchdog agency that monitors and certifies online gambling sites. "Online gambling attracts people from so many diverse regulatory regimes that it has been impossible up until now to conduct research of any scale."

In addition to polling thousands of online gamblers, researchers from UNLV and Nottingham Trent University in London will interview players in the U.S., United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Germany and Sweden about their concerns and priorities about the industry, as well as their playing habits.

The information gathered is hoped to provide the most comprehensive insight into players’ attitudes globally, with a focus on what constitutes fair gaming, perceptions of operator conduct, including customer service standards. The survey also should provide what further player protection measures can be put in place.

"We think the results will inform regulatory decisions, operator conduct and even software design," Beveridge said. "It is essential however that player concerns are fully understood by organizations like eCOGRA, which provide the only effective monitoring and resolution protection procedures."

Beveridge said he expects the results of the survey to be published in January 2007 as the "eCOGRA Global Gambler Report."

In addition to players attitudes and perceptions, the report is expected to contain demographics on who gamblers, how frequently, why and with what consequence, including the impact on personal finances and well-being.

Importantly, the polling will differentiate between poker and casino betting.

Formed a year ago, eCOGRA inspects, reviews and monitors online gambling sites, with the purpose of rating and certifying the "safest" online gaming sites.

To date, 85 sites have been certified by eCOGRA (a non-profit organization) as meeting the organization’s standards in the areas of fast payouts, fair gaming, responsive and efficient service and responsible operator conduct.