By Brant James – November 12th, 2019
Mobile wields an imperative function in the development of legal sports betting in the United States beyond easing access and enabling the engagement that sports league and television executives covet.
It is also a key factor in the early advent of responsible gambling measures, David Briggs, CEO of GeoComply, said at the Global Gaming Expo in October.
Just as GeoComply uses technology through sportsbook apps to locate whether a potential mobile or online bettor is in a jurisdiction where it’s legal, the Canadian company can ascertain how much they are playing. And then a determination can be made as to whether that amount is potentially problematic.
“The nature of digital gaming is that everything is recorded. So, not just your name and your address, associated number, your credit card details, your billing address, everything,” Briggs said, “and thanks to the geolocation element, not just your location but also the device IDs in whichever device you’re playing on. Because we have quite a large market share, we can see every operator you’re playing and every device you’re using for every operator.
“So the tools are there to actually provide a great safety net for any of the players.”
Mobile Betting Offers Opportunities
State-level regulators often espouse in-person registration as a means of insuring compliance with rules, including verifying player age. This remains the law in the most mature legal market in the country, Nevada.
But New Jersey allows online registration and payment establishment. And Iowa plans to phase out in-person registration in 2021.
Technology, Briggs said, can act as an omnipresent pit boss to detect problematic gambling tendencies. While a player could travel from retail sportsbook to sportsbook without overarching observation of potentially self-destructive wagering activity, their play can be completely apparent online.
“If you took any pit boss on The Strip, they can probably tell you that they have the capability of seeing someone who’s got a problem within about three bets because the characteristics of somebody that’s on tilt is identifiable,” he said. “Patterns can be recognized. And the technology exists to actually see those patterns being played out in real time, digitally identify that user, suspend their account, and then suspend their account across multiple operations in multiple states.
“The potential is all there. The degree to which that actually gets rolled out, I think is for us to work with our customers, with the regulators working across multiple states. But that opportunity to do that doesn’t really exist in the land-based area, which is irrational about anonymous play.”
Digital transition was a major plank of American Gambling Association president Bill Miller’s keynote at G2E.
Protecting The Players Is Key
Getting out front could benefit all involved in an embryonic legal market where just 13 states have companies accepting bets. The availability of numerous online options is often cited as a factor in problem gambling in the United Kingdom.
“Problem gambling has to be a part of all operator thinking and B2B (business to business) thinking because we all want to create an industry that is very sustainable and is good entertainment,” Keith O’Loughlin, senior vice president of sportsbook and platforms for Scientific Games Digital said at G2E. “This is about entertainment and you can only do that when you ensure that you got adequate controls and you think about player protection in everything that you do. That gives you longevity in terms of player life cycle.
“And it works for everybody, because if you don’t, you create problems for people, which nobody wants to do. And you also create problems for your business, so it’s a lose-lose situation unless you do it. And what we’ve seen in some jurisdictions in the past, it becomes a compliance issue just to look at problem gambling protection. It can’t be. It has to be part of the business and everything that you do to ensure that you’re delivering everything you do in a way that is ultimately good for protection and thoughtfulness for the players.”