How Geo-Location Could Harm US Mobile Bettors

geolocationMobile betting is the next big thing in internet based gambling. It is the fastest growing segment of a fast growing industry, and is currently taking Europe by storm. Everything from sportsbetting to poker, to mobile casino games are being designed and used by more and more punters who have adopted smartphones.

This market is lucrative because so many people have their phones on them for the vast majority of the day. Gone are the times of having to wait to get home to your PC to be able to gamble online; today’s punters have the ability to get instant gratification by using those smartphones to have a quick flutter on a lunch break, or while spending time at the bus stop.

With as big as the cyber gaming industry is getting, nobody can argue that the prospects of the mobile betting industry. Things will continue to evolve in this area, and the market will continue to expand for the foreseeable future.

That is, of course, if you are in the right location.

While Europe enjoys a legalized and regulated gaming market, our friends in the United States are struggling to get a legalized online betting solution. While we can enjoy big prize jackpots and innovative slot games from industry innovators such as Net Entertainment, Playtech, and Microgaming, punters in the States are relegated to older software from developers such as Real Time Gaming.

Things are evolving in America, but the lack of federal regulation has led to the process being left to the individual states, leaving many punters out in the cold. Recently Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey all signed laws that will allow for internet based gambling, but gaming services are restricted to punters located within their own borders. Punters from outside the state are frozen out, and left to unregulated, older betting solutions more fitting of a third world country than a global superpower.

But how do the casinos make sure that the punter is truly where they say they are?

That process called geo-location, and as much as it helps with containment laws, it very well could end up harming a legalized US betting market.

Geo-location uses either GPS satellites or network identification tools to trace your computer or smartphone’s location. While some methods are more accurate than others, geo-location is pretty good at giving a general location.

Many states who are adopting, or thinking about adopting internet betting in America have included geo-location into their bills, thinking that they can help keep the market safe and legal using this method along with some form of identity verification.

They are correct, of course, but there is an underlying concern about geo-location, and how it could negatively impact a legalized mobile betting market.

Let’s say this first: As big as mobile betting is getting to be throughout the rest of the world, it would be an even bigger market in the United States. The place is brimming with young people who have mobile devices, and Americans tend to spend a large amount of time on those smart devices. Thus, a legalized American betting market could provide even more massive numbers using mobile devices than if just PC numbers are factored.

But it is within the sportsbetting market that we may see some troubles. Sportsbetting in the United States is generally forbidden, thanks to a law passed in 1961. Recently some states have begun to challenge the federal law, and it is possible that sportsbetting could become legalized in more states in the near future.

With the possibility of sportsbetting laws changing, one voice has come out against such reform. That voice is the segmented major sports leagues in the United States, which are: the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, and the National Hockey League.

Those major sports leagues are so opposed to legalized sportsbetting, that they have collectively sued in order to keep the current laws on the books.

Even if they are not successful in keeping the act banned, the sports leagues have major pull in the country. Each league has roughly 30 teams in the largest US cities, and it is possible that the leagues could lobby to institute geo-location bans on betting services.

What exactly would that look like? Say a punter is headed to a football game in New Jersey, and the NFL worms in to the state’s legalized online betting solution in order to block users from betting within a certain radius of the stadium.

This would effectively block the ability of thousands of punters from being able to place bets in an around the stadium. Furthermore, additional sites around the stadium could also be blocked.

If you think that this isn’t possible, consider this: During the run-up to the last Super Bowl in New Orleans, the NFL somehow was able to convince the city to block existing advertising that had been paid for around the city and re-route traffic that the league thought would be detrimental to the experience of those in town visiting for the big game.

Those actions show the intimidating presence that these sports leagues hold over cities, whose economy is in no small part dependent on the business that these sports leagues bring. Furthermore, such aggressive moves could hinder a burgeoning gambling segment in an already shaky environment.

We can only hope that the sports leagues do not pick up on these useful pieces of technology and use them to bolster their hold on cities who could benefit from the tax revenues created by a legalized market place.