New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement knew even before the launch of online gaming in the state, that other states across the country would be watching. “We knew that someone had to be the “test subject” for other jurisdictions that wanted to consider online gaming” said DGE Director David Rebuck. “We spent more than a year considering regulations even before the law was enacted, and then a critical nine months, round the clock, getting up to speed with critical practical issues before we flicked the switch.” But that was only the beginning. The real test began when gaming sites went live in November 2013. New Jersey is one of only three states, along with Nevada and Delaware that made online gaming a legal, regulated reality for their residents. Numerous other states have either already introduced bills or are considering doing so. Some have brick and mortar establishments in their state, others do not, but each interested jurisdiction is watching to see if those states that have launched gaming have the success they hoped for. “The learning curve continues as we deal with any real time issues. We knew we would have to tweak the system as we went along, and will continue to do so. The ability to add mobile gaming alternatives is just one of those new additions.”
Everything New Jersey has learned about the practical matters of internet gaming over the last six months is vitally important information to those states still in the planning phase, and they are willing to share that information and answer as many questions about site security, customer confidential information security, anti-money laundering controls, ‘know your customer’ geolocation and payment processing issues and more as possible. “We are happy to have representatives from other states come to us to see how it’s done” said Rebuck. At least three states have already visited with the DGE, and federal level representatives have come to learn as well.
The operators and platform providers in New Jersey have spent millions bringing their servers and their technical staff to New Jersey. It would make sense to use the servers already here to accommodate gaming in other states as well, explained Rebuck. “We are always able to speak with other states, not only to explain how everything works, but to entertain the idea of working together” he said.
Geolocation Under the Watchful Eye of the Division
Success of geolocation is overseen by the DGE round the clock. Home computers, desktops and laptops, continue to have success rates exceeding 95%. Location via mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) has been a little more challenging, but work continues to to make that process equally successful and user friendly. It should be noted that the 5% (or less) attempts that are not verifiable include attempts that are actually coming from outside the state.
The DGE monitors all geolocation attempts in real time. There is a screen in the division office in which every geolocation attempt is tagged to its actual location. One can view the screen display and watch as each peg falls to the map at its triangulated location and turns green for a successful geolocation validation (or blue or white for mobile attempts). A non verified attempt to log in shows up as a red peg dropping to its location on the map. It’s possible to click on any red peg and find the reason for the denial of service. Watching the display for about 15 minutes, I saw hundreds of successful attempts to connect with validated geolocation techniques and only three “red pins”. One denial was an Android mobile device, another an IOS. The android device user eventually disconnected and retried about 30 seconds later and was successful. The IOS user could not be verified after two attempts due to a poor wi-fi signal. The third red pin I saw was generated from mid-state Pennsylvania, with a strong wi-fi signal. That user should have received a message that “you must be located in New Jersey to be able to play at legal online sites”. There was no further attempt from that user.
The technology shows every geolocation tracking event, not only when the player originally logs in, but when he is re verified at various times during his session. Depending upon the player’s actual location and proximity to the states borders, such re-verification time periods vary, ie closer to the borders are retracked more often.
Although the display is set to show the entire state as a default, the division has the capability to stretch the display screen to see a more definite location for any one peg. Each peg that appears on the screen can be clicked to show its exact location and various other geolocation data if necessary. The screen can also be expanded to show the entire country and can note attempts that come from Nevada, California, New York or any other location across the country.
There are two other displays in the division offices also giving real time information on each site. For example, it is possible to see how many users are logged into any one site at any given time. There are also displays that show any hacking attempts, if any viruses are present, either on the site or in the platform build, and other critical information necessary for the integrity of the operation of the games. It should be said that the many facets of data on these two displays(other than the geo-map) are in code and understood only by someone who knows what they are looking at. Several categories were explained to me as I viewed, but confidential information, either of the users or of the sites or any proprietary information, is not openly discernable to an observer.