Here are seven things you should know about U.S. iGaming geolocation.
U.S. iGaming Geolocation Technology FAQs (Introduction)
In November 2019, GeoComply Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Lindsay Slader testified before the Missouri State House of Representatives Special Interim Committee on Gaming — on the topic of U.S. iGaming geolocation technology.
The following Q&A along with its accompanying video provide answers to seven common questions that may surround U.S. iGaming geolocation as relayed by Missouri state lawmakers and GeoComply — a company that currently services the U.S. online poker, iCasino, online sports betting, iLottery, and online Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) markets.
U.S. iGaming Geolocation Technology FAQs (Video + Q&A)
Uploaded November 8th, 2019 – GeoComply YouTube Channel
1. How precise or strict is the current U.S. iGaming geolocation technology provided by GeoComply in distinguishing state borders for virtual ring-fencing?
According to Lindsay Slader, GeoComply utilizes “buffers” of varied distances to ensure that players do not place real money wagers online from a U.S. state in which such activity may not be authorized (i.e. New Jersey versus New York).
Slader adds that nearly 50% of all New Jersey iGaming occurs within 1 mile of its borders, while over 80% takes place within 10 miles. In Missouri, roughly two-thirds of all online Daily Fantasy Sports activity is conducted from locations within 10 miles of the state’s own jurisdictional boundaries.
Due to these facts, GeoComply testifies that U.S. iGaming companies seek to verify that patrons are not wagering from an unauthorized jurisdiction while at the same time working to include as many potential customers as possible within those buffer zones.
2. Is it possible to “geo-block” smaller areas? Or is current U.S. iGaming geolocation technology only capable of ring-fencing on a statewide level?
Yes, small areas can be geo-blocked.
According to Slader, this is already happening in the state of Oregon — where there are 200-300 “pockets of jigsaw pieces” that are geo-blocked because they are situated on tribal lands.
“Pretty much any area you could draw on a map with a felt pen from the sky, you could technically implement as an exclusion zone,” says Slader.
However, the GeoComply representative reminds Missouri state lawmakers that such measures may not be “commercially feasible” for regulated statewide iGaming pursuits — depending on how close their land-based casino partners or customers are in proximity to the geo-blocked areas.
3. What information is used when determining statewide border boundaries?
Despite widespread public availability of U.S. statewide border boundaries, Slader acknowledges that shapefiles vary per source and do not always reconcile with one another.
4. What about geolocation tools that mobile device users commonly use? How precise are those?
Approximately 30-50 feet. GeoComply testifies that U.S. iGaming geolocation checks are conducted with increased frequency as customers approach their respective service barriers. The open-source tools commonly used by mobile device users should not be confused with survey-grade GPS, which offers “pinpoint” accuracy.
Slader then clarifies that customers are allowed to travel outside a state’s borders (even if a real money wager is pending), but customers must conduct all real time wagering within the authorized state’s borders only.
5. Are states like Missouri missing out on potential iGaming/sports betting revenue because customers are crossing state lines to place wagers where they are legally permitted (such as Iowa)?
GeoComply’s data shows that only 7% of the geo-blocks enforced within Iowa came from the state of Missouri.
However, this small number could simply reflect the fact that operators in Iowa had yet to fully roll out their online sports betting products in November 2019 — when the testimony was provided.
Slader also confirms that the number of incoming Iowa geo-blocked customers from the state of Illinois made up more than 7 percent.
6. What happens if a customer moves between separate statewide jurisdictions where both allow for regulated iGaming? Will customers experience service interruptions regardless?
This will depend on each state and/or operator.
The most plausible scenario given current events is that customers will still experience service interruptions until there is further clarification of the U.S. federal government’s November 2018 re-interpretation of the Wire Act.
7. Is all this “geo-fencing” really necessary? Why can’t a person who lives within a few miles of a state border travel to another state and place wagers?
Lindsay Slader explains that U.S. statewide iGaming operators are forced to geo-restrict their products in order to comply with existing laws… and that failure to do so could result in a company risking forfeiture of its license and/or lawmaker scrutiny.
* This article is directly funded by Part Time Poker.
Read More About U.S. iGaming Geolocation from Part Time Poker
Washington State: GeoComply Online Sports Betting Testimony (Feb 6, 2020)
Michigan: Restriction of Virtual Private Networks for U.S. Online Poker (Mar 13, 2019)
Do Proposed VPN Bans for U.S. Online Poker Go Too Far? (Mar 15, 2019)
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FEATURED IMAGE: GeoComply/Missouri House of Representatives – November 2019