6 May, 2022

Border control: Geolocating customers

GeoComply CEO Anna Sainsbury discusses the importance of geolocation technology at ICE London, while looking forward to the rest of the year with Gambling Insider

Hi Anna. What are some of the main messages GeoComply put out at ICE London this year?  

A lot of what GeoComply is known for surrounds geolocation technology in the US market. Geolocation is crucial for an operator so that they know where their customer base is. This ensures operators can gain and retain their licence, as it’s a federal felony to accept bets from across state lines. So when we started in the market, we set out to accomplish where an operator’s user was, and supply this technology to operators. We set out to provide a strong user experience but also a strong compliance experience. What we realised over time was that geolocation data can tell us so much about a user; that who you are and where you are are intrinsically tied together. We also realised that with these types of data insights, an operator’s AML capabilities are so much stronger. 

You’re now the CEO at GeoComply. This is a recently assumed position, but not the first time you’ve held the role. Can you talk us through the change to your job title?  

David Briggs and I co-founded GeoComply just over 11 years ago now. Up until 2018, I was the CEO at GeoComply. I had a wonderful opportunity to step back for three years while maintaining a seat as the Chairman. So I was still very much active in the business, just not fully responsible for day-to-day operations. On 1 January I came back as CEO while remaining the Chairman. It’s been wonderful to wrap my hands around the business again and retake the reins. The market has changed so much in my three years away. When I stepped down back in 2018, PASPA had just been struck down, so that has created new conversations in the market now.

Let’s talk about New York. What kind of geolocation data have you seen since New York went live in January? 

What we’ve really seen in New York since it went live is a range of new, unique users. This has been great to see. There was a hunger in the market for New York to go live with online sports betting. It was a smooth launch given the huge size of the market. For those who don’t know, when things first went live in New Jersey it was a real hustle. New Jersey is a state that has so many millions of people in its border areas; 90% of New Jersey residents live within five miles of the border with other states. For a company like GeoComply, which hangs its hat on geolocation compliance and guaranteeing that it works, issues of state lines can create somewhat of an intense experience when trying to get things right. We always try to make sure we have these issues set properly so that our customers can trust our product to the maximum.

Looking north of the border towards Canada, Ontario is now regulated. There’s huge market potential here, what are some of the trends GeoComply has noticed? What are some of your general thoughts when it comes to Canada?  

Firstly, from me, as a Canadian, I’m delighted that single-event sports betting and iGaming have finally gone live in Canada. As the market was opening up, there were so many different considerations. It’s a good thing that there are these advancements to sports betting regulations, which will be good for Canadian players. Single-event betting is what players were waiting for. Ontario has a lot of different borders close by, including the US which has different principles at play in its compliance and regulation laws than what is typically seen in Canada. Getting the balance right between expectations of those neighbouring US borders and what Canada’s expectations are, and what they have been for a longer period in the gaming industry, is an interesting balance to find. 

A final question for you Anna. What is on the horizon for GeoComply in 2022? Aside from the US and Canada, what else are you striving to achieve?  

One of GeoComply’s key focuses for this year is to look and work with our customers on the player experience. We have all been pushing for growth, and each market has had its expectations for what best practice looks like. This has essentially meant, as iGaming and sports betting rolls out in new states, that there could be more tension to that user experience. Hosting the conversation around this, looking at the data, looking at what is best for the player, the intention of the operator and refining this is what we are looking to do this year. We want to know that we are achieving the highest level of compliance possible, while still being able to innovate and give a great user experience.