Online Gambling Geo-Location: How New Jersey Differs From Nevada

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As New Jersey began preparations for its real-money online gambling launch one of the major questions was how geo-location technologies would be implemented considering New Jersey’s dense border population.

And now, two weeks after New Jersey’s online gaming industry went live, we are starting to get some answers.

I recently asked Matthew Katz, CEO of NJ-licensed player verification firm CAMS, to help explain the current geo-location verification methods in place in New Jersey, and how the Garden State’s methods differ from Nevada’s.

About CAMS

CAMS is licensed by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement and has received approval to conduct player verification and geo-location for multiple sites, including the Trump Plaza, the Trump Taj Mahal, and the Borgata.

CAMS is also handles Ultimate Poker’s player verification checks in Nevada. For more information about CAMS and how the player verification works you can read our featured article An Inside Look at Nevada’s Online Poker Identification Process.

Wi-Fi plug-in vs. cell phone triangulation

One of the biggest issues confronting the New Jersey online gambling industry is how to pinpoint a player’s location without shutting-out a massive swath of New Jersey’s dense border population.

The method used in Nevada, cell phone triangulation, is only accurate to within a mile. That’s fine for a state like Nevada and its sparsely populated border regions.

But in New Jersey cell phone triangulation is of little use in metro areas that abut New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland, which just happen to be some of New Jersey’s biggest cities. In these locales a one-mile blackout zone could affect hundreds of thousands of residents.

One method currently being used is a wi-fi plug-in, a downloaded piece of software that is installed on your computer and then transmits your signal back to a company like CAMS allowing them to verify your location.

Wi-fi triangulation is supposed to be accurate to within feet, and would allow for a much smaller blackout zone near New Jersey’s borders.

However, there are a couple of issues with the technology that have popped up in New Jersey:

  • First off, you must have a wi-fi connection on your computer, something many PC’s, especially older models do not possess.
  • Secondly, the technology is relatively new and untested for this purpose, so there have been the inevitable bugs.
  • Finally, the method relies on the presence of other networks in your immediate vicinity.

CAMS CEO talks about wi-fi plug-ins

I asked CAMS CEO Matthew Katz about wi-fi plug-ins, and specifically if the New Jersey DGE is mandating their use as the geo-location verification method of choice:

It is our understanding as of today Wi-Fi is a preferred method of geo-location by the DGE.  The DGE has done a great job to ensure the integrity of the industry and is always working to evolve the regulations to create the best overall solution.

Katz went on to explain how and why these methods were put in place, and how the system was designed to err on the side of caution, at least during the initial rollout:

… There are calculated decisions being made to mitigate liability for our clients against people illegally accessing their sites by people outside of NJ (Such as NY or PA).

We are always working with our customers to improve upon the technology so that we can approve more people who are legally within the borders of NJ.

There may be false negatives by the borders for the time being, but the system was intentionally designed this way and is performing as expected.

CAMS CEO on New Jersey and Nevada regulations

Katz also explained how the New Jersey and Nevada regulators have implemented different policies concerning player verification methods.

Nevada is apparently putting the onus on the operators, while New Jersey regulators are taking a far more hands-on approach:

In Nevada the operator has the ability to decide on what technology and what vendors to work with.  They assume full liability for whomever they work with and whatever technology they choose to use.

In NJ, the DGE has been delivering very strict regulations as to who an operator can work with and what technologies they can utilize.

- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.
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