Problems with Verifying Players Location at Ultimate Poker
As it became apparent that several US states intended to enact laws that would allow for intrastate online poker and/or other forms of internet gambling, software developers were forced to come up with a way to verify each player’s location. For example, in Nevada – currently the only state to launch a legal online poker site to its adult population – only residents within the state can play. Using a method known as cell phone triangulation, Ultimate Poker is able to ensure players can only login from within the state’s borders.
It seems like a perfectly feasible solution. Track the location of the player’s cell phone to determine if they are, in fact, in the state of Nevada. But there are two known problems with this plan. For one, a player’s cellular service provider must support cell phone triangulation, and two, there is a 1-mile radius around the state from which players are blocked from playing.
When Ultimate Poker first launched, its verification process was not compatible with a few cellular service providers, including some major names like Verizon and Virgin Mobile. While these companies were quickly added to the verification program and do now offer triangulation for the Nevada online poker room, there are still a few minor carriers that do not. Only a miniscule percentage of potential players are affected by this, but it still exists.
The larger problem lies within a 1 mile radius of Nevada’s borders. This belt of inactivity is imposed to ensure no one residing on the edge of Arizona, California, Idaho, Oregon or Utah, all neighboring states, is able to login and participate at Ultimate Poker. Thus anyone who resides within this 1-mile band, despite their true Nevada residency, will not be able to participate at the legal US online poker room, or any future online poker site that launches in Nevada using this method of regional verification. Fortunately for the majority of the Silver State’s population, only 1.5% of Nevadans reside within the respective band, including the cities of Laughlin, Mesquite, Primm, West Wendover and some parts of the Lake Tahoe area.
While the belted ambit won’t present too much of an issue for Nevada’s online poker industry, it could be a lot more of an irritant in other states where the borderlands are additionally populated, such as New Jersey and Delaware, where online gambling has already been legalized, but has yet to be established.
There is another solution to residential player verification that could, and likely will be considered, at least among other states, if not future online poker sites of Nevada. This secondary method requires each player use a plug-and-play USB key that works as a locational tracking device, as well as an identity verification tool, equipped with a fingerprint recognition pad. The USB device carries the player’s personal information and works on a GPS system that relates the exact longitude and latitude of their location, while requiring fingerprint verification to ensure no one else who gets ahold of the USB key can use it to gamble online.
As effective as the USB key method would be, there is, of course, an issue with this system as well. The only real problem is that a lot of online gamblers have expressed their repudiation towards being repetitively fingerprinted. According to representatives from Responsible Gaming Networks, the company that introduced the technology, known as the Safety Net USB, this device would absolutely impede the ability to use IP spoofing to get into an online gambling site from outside a permissible area, as could occur with cell phone triangulation.
For now, the online gambling industry is just entering its infancy in the United States. As testing of both verification methods continues and feedback is received, things are certain change and the number of available methods is likely to grow as well.