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What Are Location Validators and Why Do Sportsbooks Use Them?

Written by: Richard Janvrin
11 min read

If you’re reading this then it is probably because your sportsbook app has asked you to download a geo-validator. If that is the case then you are not alone. More and more sportsbook apps are now requiring location validators in order to cut back on location fraud via VPNs. This technology is used to ensure that both the bettor and the betting platform are in compliance with state and federal betting laws.

In this guide you will learn what a location validator is, how they came to be, how they work, which sportsbooks and states use them, and much more.

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What Is Geocomply and Why Do Sports Bettors Need It?

So what is a geo-validator and why do you need one? A geo validator, such as GeoGuard is a software used to prove to an online sportsbook that you are physically located where you say you are. This has become necessary because as you may or may not be aware, some states have legal sports betting while others have yet to decide whether or not to legalize. This causes problems in a world where a VPN (a virtual private network) can be used on your phone to make it seem as if you are located in New Jersey when you are really sitting in your living room in Utah, where sports betting is illegal.

This is a crime for both you and the sportsbook you are defrauding, one that is punishable via the Wire Act, a federal crime. This is where geo-validators come in handy. A geo validator uses metrics like GPS and speed to calculate whether or not you are using a VPN and then sending that information to the sportsbooks to inform them as to the likelihood you are committing location fraud to place bets.

Geo-Validator History – An Apple Update Crashes a House of Cards

This whole geo-comply issue was a can that might have been kicked down the road by sportsbooks had it not been for a major update to Apple’s Terms and Conditions.

Apple updated its Terms and Conditions back in 2019 on the App Store to say that apps that handle monetary transactions must be written in iOS code. As it turns out most sportsbook apps were not written in iOS code, which caused a huge problem for sportsbooks who suddenly realized their apps were not going to work on the Apple App Store. So a quick fix was needed.

GeoGuard Location Validator Saves the Day

When sportsbooks realized that they were about to be cut off from 47% of sports bettors (the amount of iPhone users is 47% of all mobile users) they realized they needed a quick fix.

Vancouver based company, GeoGuard Location Validator had an app waiting and ready that they called GeoComply. GeoComply allows for metrics to be gathered from iOS users in order to confirm their location. Their app measures many different metrics on your phone and then assigns you a score used to determine the likelihood that you are using a VPN to spoof your location. This was an invaluable fix for many sportsbooks and soon SugarHouse Sportsbook began compelling their users in Pennsylvania to download and use GeoGuard Location Validator.

Since then many more sportsbooks and states began rolling out compliance with GeoGuard and other location validators, making it more and more likely that you are either already using a geo-validator when you are on your mobile sportsbook app or that you will be compelled to download one soon.

GeoGuard How To

What States Require Geocomply?

When it comes to discussing sports betting in the USA we have become used to talking about things in respect to individual states, since it is up to individual states as to whether or not they choose to legalize sports betting. But when it comes to location validation it is a US Federal law that is the 800lbs gorilla in the room since it is the Wire Act, a federal law that is in danger of being broken.

With this in mind, it is best to consider geo validation as something of a shared problem between all states. With that being said Pennsylvania, in particular, appeared to be the epicenter of the GeoComply rollout with many sportsbooks focusing on the Keystone State as a testing ground for the new software. Notably, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), which oversees all sports betting activities in the state, has approved the use of GeoComply for use by sportsbook apps.

Will You Be Prosecuted for Using a VPN to Spoof Your Location?

The short answer here is, likely not. At the moment there are no readily available statistics on how many people use VPNs to spoof their location in order to place bets in states that have legalized sports betting.

To be completely clear, this is illegal and a violation of the Wire Act. However, it is unlikely that you will be prosecuted for doing so since the Sportsbooks themselves are the ones who will be able to see if you are defrauding them and it might not be a smart move for them to show the Govt. that they have been complicit in making illegal bets.

With that being said it is very likely that if a sportsbook were to catch you making illegal bets that you may have your winnings/deposit revoked and you will be banned from the sportsbook app indefinitely. Depending on how large the bets were that you have been placing this may be a greater punishment than if you had been reported to the government.

This is all speculation and it is completely unclear at the moment if sportsbooks will turn to the government to report location fraudsters and if that is the case if they will be prosecuted. WSN recommends to follow the law in all cases and not to spoof your location since it is the only way to 100% guarantee that you are safe from repercussions.

What Sportsbooks Use Geo Validators?

Many Sportsbooks are moving towards adopting geo validators with sportsbook giant SugarHouse seemingly leading the charge who is now compelling users in Pennsylvania to download and use GeoGuard Location Validator while using their sportsbook app.

Other sportsbooks, such as BetMGM Sportsbook, have followed suit and it is likely that this is the new norm for using sportsbooks in the USA. The only questions that remain are whether sportsbook apps will be able to create their own location validators that will be able to work on their native apps or whether they will compel users to download these third-party apps to run in tandem with the sportsbook apps.

Are There Other Geo Validators?

At the moment GeoGuard is the only major geo validator able to do the job when it comes to the unique problems that validating a user’s location present. It is likely that in the future competitor validators will spring up or that Sportsbooks develop their own validators to be native in their respective apps, but for now, that is only speculation.

For the time being it is likely that more and more sportsbook apps will adopt GeoGuard as their validator of choice whether or not you are aware of its presence while using the sportsbook app.

Do I Have to Download a Geocomply App to Use My Sportsbook?

The short answer here is that if your sportsbook of choice decides to start using a location validator then you will either have to start using it or stop using the app. And as it sits now it is very likely that all mobile sportsbooks will begin using location validators, so if you want to keep sports betting on your mobile then you will have to start using them eventually.

Of course, this isn’t a problem for most users, who are betting legally in states where sports betting is approved.

Android and iOS Affected?

Yes, GeoComply is available on both the iOS and Android app marketplaces. As more and more Sportsbooks begin utilizing location validators as standard practice it is likely that you will be compelled to download it to your phone regardless of which type of device you have.

GEO Validators Q&A

What Is Geocomply and Why Do I Have to Download It?

GeoComply is a location detection software now being used by Sportsbook Apps in order to detect VPN location fraud. More and more sportsbooks are adopting this technology.

What States Require GeoComply for Sports Betting?

Every state is affected by this issue since it is most likely a federal law called the Wire Act that location spoofers are breaking. With that being said Pennsylvania, in particular, has been rolling out geolocation validation by affirming that GeoComply is approved for use by sportsbooks in their state.

What Sportsbooks Are Using GeoComply?

While all sportsbooks have been using some kind of geolocation validator for a long time, GeoComply is more advanced and is being used most notably by SugarHouse Sportsbook. However, many other major sportsbooks are using it as well or will likely adopt it or another fix soon.

Do I Have to Download a GeoComply App to Use My Sportsbook?

Maybe. All sportsbooks use some kind of geo-validator but more and more, most notably SugarHouse Sportsbook is now compelling users to download GeoComply. This means you will have to download GeoComply to continue using your sportsbook app. There are download instructions on SugarHouse’s website that make it easy.

Is GeoComply on Both Android and Apple?

Yes, there are versions available to both Andoird and Apple users and can be found on the app store. More and more sportsbooks are adopting the use of GeoComply to fight location fraud.

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Richard Janvrin

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After graduating from the University of New Hampshire with a BA in Journalism, Richard Janvrin has been covering iGaming and sports betting since December 2018. Richard has covered betting at Bleacher Report, Gambling.com, The Game Day, Forbes, and more.

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