GPWA Times Magazine - Issue 26 - October 2013

Desktop gaming Despite the growing numbers of smart- phone and tablet users, 87 percent of Internet traffic still originates from plain old computers. Ninety percent of online poker players, still prefer to use a downloadable appli- cation to play on their desktop computer, due to the increased stability it brings to the game. In order to geolocate a player on a desk- top (or laptop) computer in this case, the solution can be embedded directly into the player’s login process. When a player starts a session by entering a username and password, the geolocation can hap- pen simultaneously to the login, in the background, to verify the player’s lo- cation before he or she proceeds. This method gives the operator maximum transparency into the potential risks of location spoofing, and it’s a very effec- tive means to accurately pinpoint the player’s location. The login process re- mains seamless, with no interruptions to the player, which, beyond compliance, is always top priority. For casino customers who may likely be accessing a site through their browser instead of a downloadable client, hassle- free geolocation can take place within the browser using a plugin or other non- descript means. There is an easily acces- sible (HTML5) geosolution built into all modern browsers already; however, this method is unfortunately easily spoofed and may breach the terms and conditions of providers such as Google. As such it would typically not meet the standards required in first-tier regulated environ- ments in the U.S. Going mobile Mobile devices give you a multitude of ways to geolocate a player. Location data can be pulled in by collecting information on surrounding cell towers and WiFi sig- nals, as well as GPS. Mobile has become an interesting piece to geolocation, partic- ularly in Nevada so far. But what different methods are there and how are they used? Using cell phones Ultimate Gaming’s online poker site in Nevada uses network-based geolocation technology, where cell tower location in- formation is sourced from the customer’s wireless carrier and relayed to the opera- tor via a text message opt-in system. This method offers the secure and accurate geolocation capabilities of mobile devices, and is ideal when users are in fact playing on their mobile. In Ultimate’s case, this method is used to geolocate users who are gaming on desk- top devices. One downside with this situa- tion is that it requires third-party approv- als from the telephone companies to be in place, thus making location verification a multi-step process for customers. They must first prompt their account to send a text message to their mobile device, and then reply to enroll in the service. This is a relatively straightforward process, but the fact that it isn’t an instant, passive process may deter some operators – and custom- ers – from adopting its use. How else can you find a mobile device? Much like geolocation within a desktop app or browser, native mobile apps can easily be embedded with a geolocation so- lution so that all location verification hap- pens unobtrusively and undetected by the customer. If deployed by a specialist in this space, this kind of solution has excel- lent accuracy and anti-spoofing capabili- ties, too. However, the geodata provided by Android and/or Apple devices is vulner- able to spoofing, and most standard apps have no protection against even a non- expert hacker. Therefore, in order to meet regulatory requirements in the U.S., it is vi- tal that the operator who implements this kind of solution also screens for the use of spoofing apps or remote access to prevent corruption of the collected data. What about tablets? Users on tablets are likely to have a gam- ing experience similar to those gaming on a mobile device; however, 93 percent of tablet owners use WiFi rather than 3G/4G data to connect to the Internet. Therefore, it becomes more difficult to rely on wireless carrier cell tower infor- mation, and will likely require a geolo- cation tool that can support geolocation embedded with an app or the browser. Again, compliance will dictate that these options provide a secure method of col- lecting the player’s location to eliminate the threat of location data being spoofed or otherwise compromised. Player usability is key At the end of the day, the player experi- ence is paramount, and if the geoloca- tion solution impedes player access, it becomes yet another barrier to profits and customer acquisition. If the operator cannot make any money, the whole point is moot anyway; without customers there will be no iGaming industry in the U.S.! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lindsay Kininmonth is cur- rently operations manager for GeoComply, a geolocation technology solution provider to the regulated online gaming industry. She is based out of Vancouver, Canada. Prior to GeoComply, Lindsay spent five years in business development at the lead- ing compliance testing company, TST (now GLI), servicing both the iGaming and land-based markets. During that time she worked with some of the largest operators and vendors in North America as well as regulators around the world. Lindsay holds a political science and international relations degree from the University of British Columbia. “The online experience is all about speed, simplicity and reliability from a player’s perspective, and geolocating online players needs to be a customer-centered process, too.” 13 Finding your customers