Maryland launched online sports betting on Nov. 23, welcoming eligible adults to partake in the market statewide.
Those that aren’t physically located in Maryland, however, will have to find another means of betting thanks to geolocation technology.
Sportsbooks must geolocate all Maryland bettors
Seven operators launched at 9 a.m. on Nov. 23, all confirming geocompliance before a customer could create an account, log in or place a bet.
So, what exactly is geocompliance? How do you show it? And what might get in the way of setting it up?
We’ll cover that here, so bettors can participate in Maryland online sports betting without a hitch.
You might as well get used to the name GeoComply, which has been awarded a license to operate in Maryland. The company is the industry leader in geofencing and will become part of the new digital world for online sports bettors.
What is geocompliance, and why do you need to show it?
Geocompliance is the process of showing one’s geographic location through a digital method via the internet. Simply put, it’s the way you prove to an online entity (in this case, an online sportsbook) that you are physically located where you say you are.
During launch week alone, GeoComply logged 16.5 million location checks from eager bettors attempting to access Maryland sportsbook apps.
Come early February, Maryland ranked eighth in the nation for most Super Bowl weekend geolocation checks.
The reason the sports betting industry in the USA requires it is because not all states offer sports betting. When the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), they ruled that individual states should decide the legality of sports betting, and so far over 30 states (Maryland being the most recent edition) have decided to do so.
Thus, if you live in a state without legal sports betting, and you try to place a bet using an app from a state where sports betting is legal, you’ll be stopped in your tracks.
Maybe this has happened to you already? If so–no shame. But also, consider that you ran into a geofence.
Another iteration of this point: If you live in a state where sports betting is legal (hooray for Maryland!), but you go visit your family in a state where it is not, your home state sports betting apps will block you from betting at your grandparents’ ranch in Texas. This is because there is no legal sports betting in Texas.
Geocompliance requires you to follow the laws of the state you’re in, not the state where you live.
How do I show geocompliance?
Depending on whether you’re betting through your mobile device or through a PC or Mac, there are a few different ways to verify you’re in Maryland.
Phones and tablets make this process easiest. Just turn on location services.
If you’re an Apple user, follow the pathway: Settings >>> Privacy and Security >>> Location Services (Set to “On”) >>> Access the sports betting app and confirm to share your location.
If you use an Android device, it’s a similar pathway: Settings >>> Location (set to “On”) >>> App Permissions >>> Locate your sports betting app of choice and select “allow location services all the time” OR “only when using the app” (it’s up to you).
PC or Mac
Laptops and desktops confirm geocompliance through their unique IP addresses. This address, linked to your home internet, represents the physical location of your internet connection.
For both PC and Mac, you don’t need to do anything to show your IP address. That information is passed automatically to the sportsbook.
Reasons you could get geofenced out of your sportsbook app
A number of factors associated with geolocation might keep you from making a bet. Some are related to specific venues, while others deal with the way your devices gather your geolocation.
In some states where online sports betting is permitted in specific venues, geocompliance requires bettors to prove that they’re not only in the state but in the actual building designated for sports betting. GPS services can pinpoint your location quite well, but when it comes down to being on the right side of a doorway to place a bet, GPS isn’t enough.
In these cases, venues set up elaborate Bluetooth-based geofences that can pinpoint your geolocation within a few feet. In those cases, you’ll need Bluetooth to place a bet.
For Marylanders, that’s not an issue. Should you go see the Capitals at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., you could run into this. Capital One Arena is a geofenced arena. All fans at the stadium can place bets on the premises. If you’re trying to do this and getting geofenced out, make sure your Bluetooth services are tuned on.
For people betting at home using a PC or Mac, geocompliance can be affected by various factors.
- IP address: The unique physical address of your internet connection at your house. This address is fairly accurate, but if you live very close to a border, you may find that you do not meet geocompliance standards because the geofenced program you are using thinks you are in a different state. Talk to your internet service provider to resolve this.
- Wi-Fi signal: Depending on the strength of your signal, your laptop may get geofenced out of a program if the signal is too weak.
- Large bodies of water: Houses on major lakes, rivers, and other large bodies of water sometimes receive interference in their geolocation services.
Using mobile devices to place bets online is the easiest way to avoid this. Phones have accurate GPS-based location services built into their 4G, 5G and Wi-Fi connections.
VPNs & remote desktop programs
Some bettors may be wondering about using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to get around geofenced apps. The quick response to that is: Don’t. You’ll likely be blocked from using the apps immediately if you’re on a VPN, and you may be blocked indefinitely from returning to the app.
Do you risk prosecution for such acts of subterfuge? Probably not, but the industry is always changing, so that may change.
Remote desktop programs, which allow people from other states remote access to your computer, can also cause you to hit the geofence when trying to access a mobile sportsbook. The idea being that the sportsbook thinks someone from another state is “tunnelling” into your computer to place a bet. So, if you’re getting geofenced out of your sportsbook app, make sure you don’t have any remote desktop programs running in the background.
A geocompliance solution
Another solution to ensuring geocompliance is by using plugins and apps that help pinpoint your location. GeoComply, the industry standard in geolocation services for the sports betting industry, offers a plugin and an app for bettors.
Using GeoComply provides an added layer of security for the sportsbooks, and an added layer of confidence for you in knowing you’re less likely to get geofenced out of an app.
Geocompliance in Maryland is straightforward
In Maryland, geocompliance is fairly simple.
With all operators available via mobile apps, there are no physical locations bettors will need to navigate. The “large body of water” concern may affect people living on the Chesapeake Bay, but, in those cases, using a mobile device to show geocompliance circumvents the water hazard. Some bettors have lodged complaints with GeoComply, but these are typically resolvable by an uninstall/reinstall of the app.
None of this is to say that hiccups and software glitches will be absent, and bettors should be patient in the first few days after launch.
PlayMarlyand will be tracking app performance at launch and providing performance updates from Maryland bettors, so you’ll always know where to go to have the best experience in this new market.