GPWA Times Magazine - Issue 25 - June 2013

Putting geolocation on iGaming’s map By Lindsay Kininmonth N ow that the first online poker site has finally gone live in the state of Nevada, it seems like a new chapter has finally opened in American gaming. Gone are the old days of prolific and widely ac- cessible offshore online gambling sites, and new opportunities are starting to ma- terialize for regulated iGaming in the U.S. Beyond the legislative and licensing chal- lenges faced by operators and suppliers, technological hurdles such as geoloca- tion are now at the top of the list for those seeking to offer an online gaming service. In order to comply with UIGEA (and the DOJ) and thus ensure that gaming activi- ties are kept within the borders of a given state, a player’s whereabouts must be de- termined in order to ensure a bet is legally placed. This process typically requires a “reasonably designed” geolocation tech- nology to verify a player’s location before game play begins. While geolocation has traditionally taken place using an individual’s IP address, it often lacks the accuracy and “spoof- proofing” that would constitute a “reason- ably designed” location solution. This is increasingly becoming the required norm by U.S. regulators. Gone are the days of “IP only” Consumers’ IP addresses have been wide- ly used for geolocation purposes in the past decade. This method uses a string of numbers assigned to an individual’s Internet connection via their Internet service provider, to determine the likely location of the end user. Despite being long established as the default method for eCommerce, it is also easily spoofed and often pinpoints locations within miles in- stead of feet of accuracy. Indeed for mobile customers, the IP ad- dress of the cell phone network is often shared among their entire customer base – wherever they are in the world! Regulators, too, are recognizing the shortfalls of relying solely on IP geolo- cation technology; in a recent interview by Ars , Nevada Gaming Control Board Technology Division Chief Jim Barbee gave his view on why IP alone won’t cut it. “People do use IP geolocation, but it could not be the sole qualifier,” he said. If aNevada licensee sought certification for an IP-only geolocation solution, Barbee said his re- sponse would be: “Why are you wasting our time? My nine-year-old son can spoof that.” Operators on the hook As U.S. players make the transition from offshore sites to regulated U.S. sites in places such as Nevada, they will likely bring along with them a plethora of spoof- ing techniques and auxiliary software pro- grams designed to mask their true loca- tion to avoid eligibility issues. Therein lies the challenge for operators and regulators looking to prevent such prohibited activi- ties from taking place. Putting geolocation on iGaming’s map