You pull out your phone to place a bet on tonight’s NFL game. Your bet is denied. Then you remember that you aren’t in Baltimore. You’re actually visiting Miami, where sports betting is illegal.
Blame geolocation, but keep one thing in mind: Geolocation is an essential tool of online sports betting.
Of course, the above scenario would have to take place in the future. Online sports betting is still illegal in Maryland.
What is geolocation?
Geolocation, in the context of mobile betting, locates users. When you log into your phone to make a bet, geolocation pinpoints your exact location. If the state you’re in allows sports betting and the operator offers a platform, you can place a bet. If you aren’t, you’re out of luck.
In a populated state like Maryland, geolocation services have to be robust. That’s according to Lindsay Slader, managing director of gaming at geolocation firm GeoComply. Slader spoke with PlayMaryland about the significance of geolocation.
“There’s lots and lots of resources – technical resources – that go into ensuring that systems are operating, that the live geolocation checks that are happening on a server somewhere are also correctly synced up with the mobile apps and websites on the player’s side. That they’re integrated correctly, that they’re working properly and also up to par with the technical requirements that would be in place for that whole wagering system.”
Geolocation is an essential tool of online sports betting
Simply put, you cannot have mobile betting in the United States without geolocation.
State and federal laws mandate that betting transactions take place in legal locations. It’s essential that sports betting operators make sure bets placed via their platforms comply with existing laws. Bets placed illegally, location-wise, can get operators and states mired in lawsuits.
Slader said geolocation is critical for mobile sports betting.
“Geolocation technology has been essential to help facilitate the rollout of mobile sports betting in the U.S. and other forms of regulated online gaming to help satisfy federal and state requirements. In order for mobile sports betting to happen in this day and age in the U.S., essentially an operator needs to ring-fence a particular jurisdiction where they’re operating in using technology.”
Is there a way around geolocation?
No. The reputation of companies depends on their ability to ensure that an app’s users are where they say they are. But geolocation services account for much more than identifying where a person is standing, Slader said.
“It’s not just a matter of collecting information on where the user is – that’s actually a small slice of what we do. A really large portion of it is actually vetting all that location data, and device and user data to ensure that it hasn’t been tampered with. That someone isn’t using some sort of spoofing software to manipulate their GPS location or whatever program they may be used to pretend that they may be somewhere else.”
If you’re in a state that doesn’t offer sports betting, you can travel to a state that does. For example, if you live in California, where sports betting is illegal, you can drive across the border to Arizona, download a sports betting app, and place a wager.