By Anna Sainsbury I was struck by the assumption in Lyle Beckwith’s commentary (“States’ Rights and Internet Gambling ,” Roll Call, May 7, 2015) that there is no regulatory oversight on geolocation for online gambling in the U.S. today, and no way to secure geolocation compliance against well-known spoofing, tampering and fraud tools. In fact, the opposite is true and already many states have stepped up to successfully embrace new technology to address these problems.
I agree, however, with some of Beckwith’s points. First, it is easy to fake your location online and many people are doing it. (Netflix for example has been said to have 50 million users who fake their location to access their content.) In addition, the jurisdictions and states that choose to legalize and regulate online gaming or lottery need to take such risks into account.
However, what was missing from Beckworth’s piece was the fact that regulators in the three jurisdictions that license real-money online gaming at the moment —Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware — took these risks into account in the drawing up of their requirements for technical compliance from their online gaming operators.
As a licensed geolocation provider in these three states, I can assure you that, in fact, these regulators literally ran thousands and thousands of tests outside of their own states’ boundaries, attempting to use all the spoofing techniques alluded to by Beckwith (and many more) in order to ensure the location results we provide are the correct ones and that their neighbors’ sovereignty over gaming was respected. Indeed, the regulators sent letters to their colleagues in neighboring states setting out the measures to ensure proper geo-location and inviting them to audit for themselves the sufficiency of the safeguards.
Moreover, three leading independent gaming test laboratories (GLI, BMM and NMi) all were retained to conduct their own tests of our solution to ensure compliance and safety.
So, to come back to Beckwith’s core question: “If the bar is set high enough, can geo-location technology methods identify when someone is within the borders of a state or outside of the borders of that state?” The answer is an unequivocal “yes.” Indeed, we do exactly that about 5 million times a month to pinpoint, on average a potential customer’s location to within 50 yards.
This is no easy task, and companies like GeoComply exist specifically because such a challenge once was beyond the capabilities of the conventional geolocation companies. Today, though, states are able to police out of state gaming once their games are on the Internet. Safeguards and regulatory oversight are in place and indeed the UIGEA law enacted in 2005 would make non-compliance a criminal violation with a maximum penalty of five years in a federal prison.
I welcome you to visit our state of the art monitoring facilities in New Jersey or Nevada where we can show you what we do; real-time, across phones, tablets and PC’s to ensure the jurisdictional rights of all the states are protected and compliance to the federal law for online gaming is upheld.
Geolocation is one problem you can take off your sleepless night list!
Anna Sainsbury is chief executive officer of GeoComply. The 114th: CQ Roll Call's Guide to the New Congress Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.