Gaming Strategy
Featured Stories
Legal News Financial News Casino Opening and Remodeling News Gaming Industry Executives Author Home Author Archives Search Articles Subscribe
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Recent Articles
Kevin Smith

New Hope for Self Regulation?

16 April 2002

One of the world's leading content rating groups for Web sites is turning to the interactive gaming industry for help in spreading the depths of what could be an effective tool for parents and governments.

The Internet Content Rating Association (ICRA) has developed a guide for monitoring adult-oriented content not suitable for minors and has gained the endorsement of the industry's top trade association.

Mary Kenny, the director of North American operations for ICRA, hopes the online gaming industry will follow the lead of the adult entertainment business, which late last year made a consolidated push for content providers to adopt the system.

Here's what the process entails: The content provider fills out and submits an online questionnaire, which seeks a description of site content in terms of what is and isn't present. Based on the results of the questionnaire, the ICRA creates a customized meta tag for the content provider. The tag is then pasted in the header of the Web site.

Parents, meanwhile, download a filter and go through similar process in which they answer questions about material they don't want their children to see while on the Internet. They can also create block-and-allow lists or download templates of sites they want banned.

The important thing, Kenny said, is that parents are the ones who determine what their children can or can't see.

"The whole principle on which the ICRA system is built, and the way we are able to get these Internet leaders from around the world to come together, is they believe in self regulation of the Internet," she said. "The best way to do that is to provide tools that empower parents to make choices for their children about what is and isn't appropriate for them on the Internet."

The gaming industry is one of the ICRA's five main target sectors, second behind the adult entertainment industry.

The association hopes a partnership with the Interactive Gaming Council will help get more gaming sites involved. The IGC has posted information about the ICRA on its site and is encouraging members to use the system. The ICRA established its presence in the adult content business in the same manner--by forming relationships with industry leaders.

Kenny acknowledged that the two industries are similar. Neither, she said, wants children to access their sites. "Among other things," she said, "it just invites regulations."

Kenny also acknowledged that the advantage of the ICRA system is also its biggest weakness: The system can't truly be effective until a high volume of sites are participating.

"Self labeling is the strength and the weakness of the system," she said. "It is the strength because it empowers the content provider to describe its site rather than just being included in a black list. But until we reach a critical mass of sites labeled it isn't as an effective a tool as we hope it will be for parents."

This is why the group is targeting institutions instead of individual operators.

"We are trying to create an environment that kind of becomes like viral marketing," Kenny said. "When someone with the prestige and credibility of the IGC labels their site and recommends it to their members, the chain begins. It becomes word of mouth and that is how it happened in the adult industry."

Kenny also pointed out that advocates of the system could be rewarded with the freedom to police themselves. The intent, she said, is for industry leaders to come together and regulate themselves before government bodies try to censor them.

For more information on the ICRA and its content rating system, visit

New Hope for Self Regulation? is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith