We sat down and talked about the Future of Geolocation and Online Gaming with Dave Bontempo of Global Gaming Business Magazine. LocationSmart CEO, Mario Proietti, shared LocationSmart’s history and entry into geolocation services for gambling and lottery.
This is a sector that’s become super hot as a result of 2020’s Covid-19 travel and social distancing restrictions. A growth trend that was already years in the making has accelerated and shows no signs of letting up as more states join the online gaming and lottery trend.
Dave: You provide location services for enterprises and Fortune 500 companies…When did online gaming enter the mix for you and how did that happen?
Mario: Yes, LocationSmart provides cloud-based location services to businesses with mission-critical needs to help them understand where their resources or users are located. Online gaming came into the mix for us in 2013 when US states such as Nevada and New Jersey started allowing real-money wagering via the internet or mobile devices. This created an imminent need for location verification which is a specialty of LocationSmart’s enterprise-grade services.
Dave: Why was gaming a logical fit for you? What are the types of services you need to provide the gaming industry in order to service it?
Mario: LocationSmart’s proprietary technology is well-suited for the gaming industry because it provides a multi-source solution to verify the integrity of a device’s location. Our cloud-based technologies work for downloadable applications and also provide a compelling app-less solution for operators that prefer a more streamlined patron experience that doesn’t require them to install any special software.
Dave: How does this work? Are we talking about cell towers, software, some cloud-based arrangement? How does what you do actually happen?
Mario: All the above. The actual technology applied for any given location verification depends on multiple factors including a device’s capabilities, its data connection, whether a browser or mobile app is being used and more. LocationSmart’s multi-source location processes utilize machine learning and deep analytics to allow for a location compliance solution that is powerful, yet flexible. Heuristic analysis of the device location and related activity observed during a session helps assess the integrity of the location information. Our customers get access to all that capability through our cloud-based web services APIs. We configure our solution for each customer to best suit their service needs and any regulatory or operational requirements.
Dave: In the gaming world, are you more likely to be contracted by state agencies that want to monitor the legality of the bets, companies that want to make sure they are going to be in compliance, or others?
Mario: LocationSmart generally works with gaming platform builders or operators. Those tend to be companies who offer games themselves or operate them on behalf of a brand or other provider that could include state or national lotteries.
Dave: How would you describe the growth in the online gaming sector? Is this a once-in-a-lifetime thing? What type of opportunities and challenges does it bring? Is this too much growth too fast?
Mario: We’ve seen steady growth in the online gaming sector, but it is fair to say that many found the early adoption period lackluster. This was likely due in part to the relatively small percentage of smartphone users in 2013. However, smartphone use nearly doubled by 2016 and mobile internet connectivity has quickly become ubiquitous. This has fundamentally changed the way people want to consume services. They’ve come to expect on-demand access to online services like mobile gaming. The Covid-19 and related events of 2020 have certainly increased that demand and led to accelerated adoption by users and new jurisdictions. The trajectory was already set in motion and I expect it will continue to follow a healthy growth trend for the foreseeable future.
Dave: Wikipedia reported a significant security breach connected with your company awhile back….Did that prompt any particular new measures that have been helpful to the company?
Mario: Yeah, that was a challenging period for LocationSmart, but thankfully, a third-party forensic review confirmed that no end user or customer data was breached nor were our operational systems. We discovered unusual activity coming from a demo page on our web site within 24 hours and immediately eliminated the vulnerability. We have since evolved our platform to use new technologies and are focused on those for the future.
[Read our complete statement about the reported incident (aka the LocationSmart hack) here.]
Dave: Talk about your main product (or function)….What is the WOW factor from your perspective? What separates you from competitors?
Mario: “Flexibility”. LocationSmart is focused around giving customers a set of services that they can adapt easily to meet their needs according to their business, operational and regulatory demands. Another aspect of that is our ability to provide a solution that works for mobile or desktop through a browser or through an app, whether on a cellular, wi-fi or wired connection. Customers can use as much or as little of our technology as needed and combine it with their internal or other third-party solutions to come up with the best solution for them. So, in that sense we don’t offer a one-size-fits-all service, nor do we force a customer to purchase anything they don’t need. We think that offers the greatest value and flexibility to our customers. And that is ultimately best for their patrons.
Dave: Talk about your 2021 plans, particularly second and third quarter…
Mario: We’re currently focused on augmenting LocationSmart’s services with new location methods and increasing the multitude of inputs we leverage for our customers. We are also working on introducing additional machine learning analytics to help enhance the robustness of our location verification solution while streamlining the end user experience even further.
Dave: Any final thoughts on what’s important to this sector, and your company?
Mario: We’ve always viewed ourselves as a supporting partner for our customers who are the stars of the show. When we started the company 25 years ago, we were focused on helping wireless carriers and public safety agencies locate mobile callers when they dial 9-1-1. We offered supporting products and services that enabled location to be introduced into that industry to help save lives and we’re extremely gratified that we were able to play a small role in bringing that to fruition. Ten years ago, we did the same for trucking and roadside assistance services, where we helped improve safety on our highways through innovative first-of-their-kind handsfree solutions. With gaming, it’s a different kind of safety. It may not involve physical well-being but helping stakeholders in the gaming industry operate safely and free of financial and other exploitation is right in line with our philosophy. LocationSmart sees that as protecting both the operators and the patrons who just want a safe and fun experience online. We always try to apply our knowledge and services to make a positive impact and help people work, travel, or play more safely and securely.