The online gambling industry is alive and well in New Jersey. Now 5 years later, and $1 billion + in online gambling revenues, it is clear that online gambling is a force to be reckoned with. The road to riches and legalized gambling has been fraught with challenges.

Foremost among them is the question: How to limit online gambling activity to legal age players within the state? Sophisticated technology is required to ensure that only legal age players in New Jersey are allowed to gamble. Errors can invalidate the authenticity of the entire framework, rendering it completely ineffective. It is for precisely this reason that regulators, gambling aficionados, and technical experts slaved long and hard to conjure up protocols to ensure a watertight framework for legalized gambling.

BACK IN THE DAY…

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Before New Jersey legalized online gambling, players in the state were able to register at offshore sites. There were no laws preventing players from doing this, but there were no safeguards either. Players had no recourse if online casinos, online poker rooms, or online bingo halls refused to pay out. Further, privacy controls, security systems, and the integrity of player information were always a factor.

The risk of fraud with foreign gambling operations is especially high, and New Jersey players fully support regulated gambling operations. The state heeded those calls when the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJ DGE) finally adopted comprehensive legislation allowing online casino and online poker gambling.

Now, Atlantic City land-based casinos are legally allowed to partner with software providers to offer online gambling. In New Jersey, it is only land-based casinos which can apply for licensing to establish their own online casino operations. The range of games includes slot machines online, card games, video poker games, live casino games poker games, online, bingo, and online lottery games among others.

The comprehensive legislation allowed for full regulation of online gambling activity in state. The famed Atlantic City Boardwalk and its mega-casinos now offer a range of online casino games to players in Atlantic City, and throughout the state of New Jersey. It is important to verify that the services provided by a casino are indeed regulated by the NJ DGE. This is easily done by cross-referencing the licensing with the official New Jersey website.

HOW SAFE IS THE TECHNOLOGY THAT ENSURES NJ-BASED GAMBLING ONLINE?

As mentioned earlier, New Jersey gambling is governed by geolocation technology. It's easy to be misled by the apparent simplicity of this technology. For real money mobile gambling in New Jersey, players are required to download a casino app. Casino apps (applications) can be downloaded for Android devices at the Google Play Store, and for iOS devices (iPhone and iPad) at the App Store. Players must ensure that they are physically within the geographic borders of New Jersey. To validate this information, specialized technology is used. It is known as a geolocation tracking technology.

Geolocation tracking is a location-based technology used to determine the whereabouts of an individual. When done correctly, it is so accurate that it can pinpoint location with near precision. There are several measures used by gambling operators to ensure that the technology is working effectively. The most important of which include triangulation of Internet protocol (IP) and Wi-Fi signals. The leading provider of geolocation-based tracking technology in the Garden State is GeoComply. 

This company has been responsible for providing geolocation tracking technology for the majority of NJ-based online casinos since inception in 2013. The rollout of this technology was not without complications.

In the early days, many pundits believed that the inaccuracies (especially on New Jersey's borders with neighboring states) would lead to the demise of regulated gambling. However, the triangulation techniques in tandem with technological improvements have put paid to the false negatives of geolocation tracking. In simple speak: the technology is near 100% accurate.

HOW TO ENSURE THE ACCURACY OF GEOLOCATION TRACKING ON MOBILE SMARTPHONES AND TABLETS VERSUS DESKTOP?

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Geolocation tracking is not possible without a geolocation plug-in. This is true for all desktop devices and mobile devices. These plug-ins must be downloaded for each online casino, online poker room, or online sportsbook in New Jersey. Recall that anyone can play in demo mode at New Jersey online casinos, but only legal age players based in New Jersey are entitled to gamble for real money.

Additionally, PCs, Macs and other computing devices will need Wi-Fi accessibility. Back in the early days (2013 – 2015), many desktop computers were unable to receive Wi-Fi signals, but to remedy this issue online casinos provided players with USB Wi-Fi adapters. This quickly solved the problem and allowed state regulators to verify the location of all registered players at online casinos.

Mobile devices like Android smartphones and tablets, iPhones, iPads, Blackberry et cetera are naturally better equipped for Wi-Fi. This means it is much easier to ensure geolocation tracking on mobile. The mobile device must have location services turned on to ensure that it is physically located in New Jersey. It's a relatively simple process on Android smartphones by simply navigating to appssettingslocationon.

High accuracy location services are preferable since this brings several elements into play including the mobile network, GPS, and Wi-Fi. Once these factors have been enabled, it is easy to determine a user's location. It may be possible to also use 4G LTE connections with GPS geolocation services enabled. Several New Jersey online casinos allow players to play direct off their browser, but most require downloading an app for this purpose.

IS IT POSSIBLE TO HACK INTO NEW JERSEY TO ENJOY ONLINE GAMBLING?

We live in a world where it is relatively easy to bypass geolocation constraints by using things like VPNs (Virtual Private networks) to mask our location. This is common for users of Netflix, or country-specific sports broadcasts and TV services. For example, people in China, Russia or elsewhere may want to play games online, read the news, or simply watch YouTube, so they use a VPN to bypass repressive controls.

Since New Jersey has frozen out-of-state players and underage players, it begs the question: How can anyone skirt these regulations and gamble for real money? At the time, David Rebuck of the NJ DGE stated that the system was not foolproof. 

Many tech savvy individuals routinely use proxy servers to hide their location, and remote servers to provide fake IP addresses. As early as 2013, there were even downloadable apps to help provide users with a New Jersey address.

The challenge, as addressed earlier relates to the border areas of the Garden State. To compensate for these issues, regulators decided to draw the digital fence several miles in from the state borders. This created many problems for outliers, who despite being in New Jersey were unable to gamble online. At the time, it was a case of better safe than sorry with regulators referring to err on the side of caution.
 

By 2015, GeoComply CEO Anna Sainsbury went public with positive assertions about her confidence in the technology. According to Sainsbury, ‘… As a licensed geolocation provider in these three states, I can assure you that, in fact, these regulators literally performed thousands and thousands of tests outside of their own state's boundaries, attempting to use all the spoofing techniques alluded to by Beckwith in order to ensure the location results we provide are the correct ones and that our neighbours’ sovereignty over gaming was respected.’ The results of the geolocation tracking Technology testing were validated by multiple independent laboratories including NMI, BMM, and GLI.

GeoComply is not the only company tasked with geolocation tracking in New Jersey. CAMS is another geolocation verification company which is used. It verifies location for several sites including the Borgata. Since cell phone triangulation is only accurate to 1 mile, something far more accurate is needed for the dense border areas in New Jersey. This is where Wi-Fi plug-ins come into play. With Wi-Fi triangulation, accuracy can be assured to within 10 feet, and this results in a much smaller blackout zone for legal age players in New Jersey. 

Since many of the older computers didn't have Wi-Fi compatibility, this presented a problem in the early days. The CEO of CAMS, Matthew Katz had this to say about Wi-Fi plug-ins back in 2013, ‘… It is our understanding as of today Wi-Fi is a preferred method of geolocation by the Division of Gaming Enforcement.… There are calculated decisions being made to mitigate liability for our clients against people illegally accessing their sites by people outside of New Jersey… 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.’ 

TREMENDOUS ADVANCES IN GEOLOCATION TRACKING TECHNOLOGY

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Proponents of the GeoComply technology are so certain of its efficacy, that they routinely invite anyone to prove them wrong. The fact that the technology does not rely on any single measure to determine location is it saving grace.

In other words a VPN which hides the user's location will not be the only measure used to determine location. When Wi-Fi plug-ins, location transponders on cell phones, and IP addresses are considered simultaneously, it becomes increasingly difficult to fault a system which actually works. By 2017, significant advances had taken place in geo-tracking technology in New Jersey. The number of false negatives was reduced, making it far easier for players on New Jersey's borders to access online gambling activity. 

The CEO of 888 Holdings, Brian Mattingley was rightly impressed with the pinpoint accuracy of geolocation tracking with its enhanced flexibility and technical proficiency. Now, banks are green lighting debit cards and credit cards for use on gambling sites.

The nationwide movement to liberalize online gambling got a massive boost with the SCOTUS decision to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, thereby allowing states to determine the legality of sports betting. It is safe to say that New Jersey has got it down pat when it comes to determining whether players are located within its borders for legal online gambling purposes.
 

About the Author
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With digital marketing strategies in his blood, Louis Wheeler has traveled around the world, exploring gambling cultures and gaining experience in casino games from 2003. If you are in a casino anywhere around the planet, you may find him right next to you, playing blackjack, roulette or texas hold'em.