What is geolocation and why are online gambling sites using it?
All states that have legalized and regulated online gambling have language in the laws that require players to play from inside the state.
You don’t have to be a resident to sign up for an account. However, state laws mandate you be inside state lines when you do decide to play.
It’s the responsibility of the online gambling sites to make sure players are where they say they are. Geolocation is the method the sites use to ensure its players are in the same state as they are. In most states, the online gambling sites are required by law to use it.
How does geolocation work?
Geolocation technology is a positioning system that is used to pinpoint a players’ coordinates. It does this mostly by tracking his or her IP address and triangulating his or her WiFi signal.
On most online gambling sites, users can browse around, play game demos, and perform all sorts of account management functions, including deposits and withdrawals, from anywhere in the US. However, the ability to play games for real money is restricted to those who have allowed geolocation technology to prove they are inside the state.
What companies provide geolocation services?
A geolocation technology and software company called GeoComply is licensed by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE) and the Commonwealth of Delaware to provide geolocation and anti-fraud solutions to the online gambling market in those states.
Most online gambling sites in these states have used GeoComply since launch. The company also provides similar services to a number of US lotteries that have gone online.
Other geolocation technology and software companies authorized to provide similar services in states with legal online gambling include:
Are there any issues with geolocation technology?
When the online gambling market first opened up in New Jersey, the geolocation technology and software providers returned a number of false negatives. Players legitimately inside the state were frozen out of online gambling.
Apparently, a high percentage of the false negatives were coming from areas close to state lines. Working with the geolocation service providers, the NJDGE had established a buffer zone by the border. WiFi triangulation used in geolocating is not perfectly accurate. Therefore even if a player were clearly on the New Jersey side of the state line, if they were too close to it, and inside that buffer zone, they were not allowed to play.
The DGE has made every effort to shrink the size of that buffer. Plus, the geolocation technology and software providers have fixed a number of issues on their end. In fact, these days false negatives are a rarity.
What can players do to help ensure the geolocation technology works properly for them?
In most cases, players are asked to download and run a software plug-in on their computer.
The geolocation technology checks your location when you first connect, and then occasionally as you continue to play.
There are a number of additional things players can do to help the geolocation technology do its thing. In this way, players ensure they enjoy unfettered access to legal and regulated online gambling sites in NJ:
- Always run the plug-in.
- Make sure your WiFi is on. You don’t have to be connected to a wireless network, but your WiFi must be on for the geolocation technology to find you. Users of desktop computers not equipped with a WiFi adapter will need to obtain a USB WiFi adapter.
- Turn off all Virtual Private Network, Virtual Network Client or Remote Desktop software. These often cause geolocation checks to fail.
- Make sure your WiFi signal is strong enough to allow geolocation technology to confirm your location. A good way to check is to make sure at least two other networks are available.
- Contact your internet service provider to ensure it only assigns you IP addresses that are inside the state.
- Avoid using third party internet connections, including public or corporate connections, and WiFi hotspots. These networks may assign IP addresses outside the state.
Does geolocation technology work for mobile devices?
Users looking to play on a mobile device should have an even easier time getting the geolocation technology to pinpoint their whereabouts.
That’s because Android and iOS smartphones and tablets have built-in GPS capabilities. As a result, no additional app or geolocation plug-in is required. Mobile users need only ensure GPS Location Services are turned on.
Will geolocation technology be used in the Pennsylvania online gambling market when it opens?
Geolocation is being used in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware, the only three states where online gambling is legal and regulated. Therefore, it is assumed Pennsylvania will also use geolocation technology when it rolls out the first online gambling sites in that state in the second half of 2018.
This is especially true considering the state plans to block online gambling play from inside casinos, another function geolocation can make possible.
Temporary online gambling regulations approved by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board also suggest the need for online gambling sites in the state to use geolocation technology. Particularly the one requiring online gambling licensees to implement features blocking access to all Pennsylvania online casinos and online poker sites from outside the state.