Washington D.C. Faces Geolocation Challenge for Sports Betting Implementation

Washington D.C. Faces Geolocation Challenge for Sports Betting Implementation

With the recent vote by Washington D.C.’s City Council to legalize sports betting, planning in the territory is slowly becoming reality.

The district’s small geographic boundaries will force the city to rely on geolocation to make sure that online wagers are made within the legal betting areas of the territory.

Geolocation is the technical term for pinpointing your mobile device’s exact location.

In D.C., the sports betting bill will have numerous exclusion zones where bettors cannot place wagers.

These no-betting zones will be enforced through geolocation.

For a few examples of these no-betting areas, D.C. bettors cannot bet inside national parks and federal buildings.

With 19 national parks in D.C and hundreds of federal buildings, geolocation will have to work with precision to keep betting legal in the district.

“D.C. does present a very unique geolocation challenge,” John Pappas, public affairs officer for GeoComply, told WTOP.com.

“Within the District itself, there are going to be so many different exclusion zones.”

Sports wagering will be allowed in independently operated sports books and inside major sports arenas inside the district.

Bettors can enjoy placing wagers inside Audi Field, home of D.C. United and Capital One Arena, home of the Washington Wizards of the NBA and Washington Capitals of the NHL.

Not to be left out, the Washington Nationals of MLB, will also allow betting inside Nationals Park.

What Will D.C. Bettors Have to Download to Place Wagers?

Bettors will have to download a citywide app for their mobile devices to bet inside the district and another app to place wagers inside the ballparks.

The multiple app setup could potentially frustrate bettors and cause confusion.

“What would be great for that is if there’s a single platform that services both stadiums,” said Pappas.

“Then, an individual would be able to use their app within that entire area there, or at either of the stadiums.”

In D.C., any approved location holding a Class B license to take bets will have the option of setting up their own app.

“I think that will be one of the challenges for consumers, is understanding where they can place a wager and where they can’t place a wager in D.C., depending on where you’re standing,” said Pappas.

What Steps Will D.C. Take to Prevent Out of District Betting?

D.C. will take the same steps that New Jersey has used with their betting app to prevent New York bettors from staying home and placing wagers.

The main challenge to online betting from outside the district is the use of VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks.

In New Jersey, officials have set up several safeguards to assure all betting is done legally within the state.

For example, if a bettor tries to use a VPN in Jersey, the operator informs the user that they will not be able to place a wager until the private network is disabled.

New Jersey also adds VPN users to a database for future monitoring to assure the bettor follows the law.

Geolocation services will continue to play an important role in keeping betting in D.C. legal, while protecting operators from out-of-market betting.

The D.C. Council should finalize all regulations, including how geolocation will be used in the district, sometime in June with the hope that betting opens during the NFL season.