Geolocation Technology Will Play A Critical Role In Online Sports Betting

Written By Steve Ruddock on May 31, 2018 - Last Updated on February 8, 2021

Authorizing online sports betting is a surefire way for states to maximize revenues. However, it also creates a more complicated regulatory landscape.

Unless they have a wingspan like future NBA star Mo Bamba, it’s not hard to confirm that a customer placing a bet in a casino’s sportsbook is located in the state.

Figuring out where a person is located is a little more complicated online. It’s not that it can’t be done, rather it requires additional layers of technology than brick-and-mortar sportsbooks.

And that’s where a company like GeoComply comes in.

States going online will need to turn to the experts

GeoComply currently provides the cutting-edge geolocation technology that makes intrastate online gambling in states such as New Jersey possible.

PASPA may be a thing of the past, but these new sports betting markets will need to be rigorously geofenced in order to comply with other gambling laws such as the Wire Act of 1961. And there’s a reason why jaws tend to hit the floor when people see GeoComply’s product in action for the first time.

GeoComply’s multi-layered geolocation checks have proven extremely effective in online gaming markets such as New Jersey. As the leader in the field, the company will have a pivotal role to play as sports betting proliferates.

States exploring online sports betting are going to lean heavily on the technical know-how of companies like GeoComply.

That’s a challenge the company is prepared for.

According to Lindsay Slader, the operations manager for GeoComply, the company already works with many of the prospective stakeholders in US sports betting and is in contact with state legislatures and regulators to offer guidance.

If, as Slader expects, states follow the existing models in place in Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, and the handful of states with online lotteries, geolocation shouldn’t be an issue. The transition from online poker and casino to sports betting should be a smooth one.

Keep it simple

Unfortunately, there are always states trying to reinvent the wheel.

A great example of this is Louisiana’s proposed DFS legislation that would require a parish-wide (county) vote to authorize DFS. There’s a good chance it charts a similar course for sports betting, and other states are likely to impose similar requirements.

The problem with Louisiana’s parish-by-parish approach is it would reduce the size of the geofenced area and increase the number of border miles to monitor. The proposed policy is within GeoComply’s capabilities, but as Slader notes, it would increase the cost to operators.

“The technical capabilities exist, but operators will find it more expensive,” Slader said. “The closer you get to a border the more often your location needs to be checked.”

The smaller the area, the more complicated geolocation becomes

Other states are likely to task GeoComply with even larger challenges by further shrinking the authorized area.

“For the parish by parish model you’re still talking about a certain geographic area that isn’t down to a building level,” Slader said. “[At the building level] you’d have to ensure that players are indoors. That requires a lot more technical customization that would go beyond the standard model in New Jersey, Nevada, or Delaware.”

To block out everything but a specific building, “You would need to augment your system with Bluetooth to cut people off at the door,” said Slader. “The accuracy would have to be increased to a few feet and you’d need to calculate their movements to exit areas.”

And if you think a state wouldn’t go down that path, think again.

Mississippi passed a sports betting law last year, but existing laws require all gaming to occur on-property. As currently constituted, if Mississippi were to allow mobile sports betting, it would need to be contained in a single building — the licensed property.

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Excluding a specific building is less of an issue

The opposite is occurring in Pennsylvania, where land-based casinos will be no-fly zones for online gaming. According to Slader, this is well within the current capabilities.

“It’s a pretty simple exercise to create an exclusion zone around your local casino,” Slader said. “It’s not as demanding as having to place your players inside the walls of a casino.”

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Steve Ruddock

Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.

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