There are two publicly discussed methods for location verification in Nevada. One method is cell phone triangulation, while the other is a USB key that also uses a fingerprint recognition system.
Ultimate Poker launched using cell phone triangulation. There were several technical issues related to this method. The most obvious problem was that Verizon, a carrier that serves about 40% of the Las Vegas market, was not included at launch. Several other carriers were also not available when Ultimate Poker went live. These included Virgin Mobile and MetroPCS, though most omitted operators were eventually added. It seems unlikely that future operators will launch before contracting with virtually all cell phone carriers in its market.
Ultimate Poker knew of the cell phone carrier issues, but wanted to provide online poker to a community that had been longing for it. Those that were able to access the first regulated online poker room in the US were extremely happy with this decision.
XYVerify had proposed using cell phone triangulation in Nevada during the public comment period. Verifi/CAMS was chosen by Ultimate Poker for player location services and cell phone triangulation was the method used to ensure online poker players are within Nevada’s borders while playing.
Beyond the triangulation carrier issues that future Nevada operators will probably not have to deal with, there is another potential problem with this method. Ultimate Poker, and presumably other operators using the same location verification method, will be unable to accept players near a state border. This is not a substantial problem in Nevada since most of the state’s population lives in Las Vegas, Reno, Carson City and a number of mining towns. Only about 1.5% of the state’s population is excluded by the 1 mile buffer around the state line that is used to ensure players across state lines are unable to play. These excluded communities include Laughlin, Primm, Mesquite, West Wendover and portions of the Tahoe area. While inconvenient and frustrating to those residents and visitors, the main population bases of Nevada have access to Ultimate Poker using this method.
Cell Phone Triangulation May Not Suffice in More Populated States
This may be a problem in future regulated jurisdictions. For example, a large number of New Jersey residents live just across the Delaware River from Pennsylvania and Delaware or across the Hudson River from New York. The difference in a one mile buffer could potentially shut out hundreds of thousands of players.
Responsible Gaming Networks proposed a solution that may resolve this problem during the Nevada interactive interstate licensing public comment period. The company recommended their Safety Net USB technology.
The company’s USB key must be plugged in to the user’s computer for a player to participate in online gaming within a legal jurisdiction. This key would carry a user’s personal information, as well as fingerprint technology that would ensure the proper user was tied to the device. The key also includes GPS technology that will log a player’s exact latitude and longitude location. Responsible Gaming Networks states that this device would make it impossible for a player to find a backdoor through cell phone triangulation and IP spoofing.
Neither Technology is Perfect
There are issues with both forms of technology. As mentioned, players close to jurisdictional borders may be excluded when cell phone triangulation is used. On the other hand, many players will be uncomfortable providing a fingerprint to gamble online. This is especially true since for the past 15 years of online gambling this has never been a requirement. It is possible that some regulated online gambling sites will offer both forms of location services to allow a player to access the site close to borders or if their mobile devices fail triangulation checks, which has been a problem in Nevada, especially for players accessing the internet through nontraditional connection methods.
Both companies have legitimate arguments for their services. It will take a trial and error system to find which system, or a combination of the two, will provide operators with a safe and legal way to offer online gambling.
Location services are not the only form of verification services available. Player Verify will offer players the ability to securely upload their documents to their company’s website. These documents will be shared with companies that both the player and Player Verify enter into an agreement. Players may also set responsible gaming limits within the software that will be shared among all participating sites. Other verification services may also be provided in the future by the company.
Negative Database Providers
The use of Iovation came to light upon Ultimate Poker’s launch. While Iovation itself may not be a legitimate company, the service it provides is in high demand in the online gaming industry. Unfortunately, fraud is a serious issue when it comes to gambling online. A handful of fraudulent deposits can wreak havoc on an operator.
It is not just the money lost to fraud that becomes an issue. The resources spent investigating it can be a burden for any operator.
Online gaming fraud comes in several forms. The most common form is where losing players submit a chargeback to their credit card company or bank. Another form is where stolen banking information is used to make a deposit by an identity thief. Collusion is another form of online gambling fraud. All of these issues must be addressed so that operators do not lose their profits to scammers.
Legitimate online poker accounts can also get caught up in these types of fraud if those accounts become significant winners from illegitimate deposits. It is in everyone’s best interest to put an end to this.
This type of business goes well beyond credit card numbers that have been used to commit fraud. MAC addresses, IP addresses, former roommates, spouses and logins to other websites are potentially kept in a negative database. This keeps scammers from being able to discard a computer or connection to continue their fraud.
It seems clear that another company will take the place of Iovation in Nevada, assuming the investigation into the company eventually bans them from operating in the state. This is important to keep excluded players and criminals out of the system so that legitimate players can enjoy the regulated online gambling environment they have waited far too long to play.