Ohio launched online sports betting on New Year’s Day, and all eligible adults in the state can partake in the market.
In other words: No one outside of Ohio’s borders can partake in the state’s robust sports betting market.
Sixteen online operators launched when Ohio sports betting went live at 12:01 a.m., and each ensures geocompliance from their customers before they can log on to an app, create an account and place a bet.
What is geocompliance? How do you show it? And what might get in the way of setting it up? We’ll cover that here, so bettors can participate in Ohio online sports betting without a hitch.
What is geocompliance, and why do you need to show it?
Geocompliance is the process of proving one’s geographical location through a digital method via the internet. Simply put, it’s the way you prove to an online sportsbook that you are physically located in a given location.
The reason the sports betting industry in the U.S. requires geocompliance is because not all states offer sports betting. When the Supreme Court struck down PASPA, it ruled that individual states should decide the legality of sports betting. So far, 34 states (Ohio being the most recent edition) have decided to do so.
Thus, if you live in a state without legal sports betting and you try to place a bet on a sportsbook’s website, you’ll be stopped in your tracks. Maybe this has happened to you already. If so – no shame. But also, consider that you ran into a geofence.
Another point: If you live in a state where sports betting is legal, but you go visit your family in a state where it is not, your home state sports betting apps will block you from betting at your grandparents’ ranch in Texas where sports betting is illegal.
Geocompliance requires you to follow the laws of the state you’re in, not the state where you live.
How do you show geocompliance?
Depending on whether you’re betting with your smartphone or through a PC or Mac, there are a few different ways to show you’re in Ohio.
Phones and tablets make this easiest. Sportsbook apps will ask to use your location when you first download them. Either approve that request the first time around, or you can can head into your settings to turn on location services for the app later.
If you’re an Apple user, follow the pathway:
Settings>>>Privacy and Security>>>Location Services (Set to “On”)>>>Access the sports betting app and confirm to share your location.
If you use an Android device, it’s a similar pathway:
Settings>>>Location (set to “On”)>>>App Permissions>>>Locate Sports Betting App of choice and select “allow location services” all the time OR only when using the app (it’s up to you).
PC and Mac
Laptops and desktops show geocompliance through their unique IP addresses. These addresses, linked to your home internet, represent the physical location of your internet connection.
For both PC and Mac, you don’t need to do anything to show your IP address. That information is passed automatically to some sportsbooks.
Others, however, will ask you to download a plugin to check your location. This software will work automatically to check your location once you have it installed. Either way, the process is incredibly simple and will take less than a few minutes to set up.
What might cause you to be geofenced out of your sportsbook app?
A number of factors associated with geolocation might keep you from making a bet. Some are related to specific venues, while others deal with the way devices gather your geolocation.
In some states where online sports betting is only permitted in specific venues, geocompliance requires bettors to prove that they’re not only in the state, but also in the actual brick and mortar building designated for sports betting.
GPS services can pinpoint your location quite well, but when it comes down to being on the right side of a doorway to place a bet, GPS isn’t enough.
In these cases, venues set up elaborate bluetooth-based geofences that can pinpoint your geolocation within a few feet. You’ll need to use the bluetooth feature on your phone to place a bet in these rare scenarios.
This will not be a concern for Ohioans, as mobile sports betting is legal statewide, but it is worth noting when traveling to other states or districts.
For example, hockey fans taking a road trip to Washington, D.C. to watch the Blue Jackets play the Capitals will need to consider geofencing laws. Capital One Arena, home of the Capitals, allows mobile sports betting within a two-block radius of the venue.
For people betting at home using a PC or Mac, geocompliance can be affected by a number of factors.
- IP address: The unique physical address of your internet connection at your house. This address is fairly accurate, but if you live very close to a border, you may find yourself geofenced out of an app because the IP address is not accurate enough. Talk to your internet service provider to resolve this.
- WiFi signal: Depending on the strength of your wifi signal, your laptop may get geofenced out of a program if the signal is too weak.
- Large bodies of water: Houses on major lakes, rivers, and other large bodies of water sometimes receive interference in their geolocation services.
Using mobile devices to place bets online is the simplest solution since phones have accurate GPS-based location services built into their 4G, 5G and WiFi connections.
VPNs and Remote Desktop programs can stop you from placing a bet
Some bettors may be wondering about using VPNs to get around geofenced apps. The quick response to that is: Don’t. You’ll likely be blocked from using the apps immediately if you’re on a VPN, and you may be blocked indefinitely from returning to the app. Do you risk prosecution for such acts of subterfuge? Probably not, but the industry is always changing.
Remote desktop programs allow remote access to a computer — potentially in another state. These can also cause you to hit the geofence when trying to access a mobile sportsbook. The idea is that the sportsbook thinks someone from another state is “tunnelling” into your computer to place a bet.
So, if you’re getting geofenced out of your sportsbook app, make sure you don’t have any remote desktop programs running in the background.
GeoComply is the industry leader in geocompliance
Another solution to ensuring geocompliance is by using plugins that help pinpoint your location. GeoComply, the industry standard in geolocation services for the sports betting industry, offers a plugin for bettors. Some sportsbook apps require it. Just download it and run it on your desktop or download the app and run it on your mobile device.
Using GeoComply provides an added layer of security for the sportsbooks and an added layer of confidence for you in knowing you’re less likely to get geofenced out of an app.
Geocompliance in Ohio is straightforward
With so many operators available via mobile apps, there are no physical locations bettors need to navigate. The “large body of water” concern may affect Ohioans near the Ohio River as well as those in Toledo or Cleveland, In those cases, using a mobile device to show geocompliance circumvents the water hazard.
Some bettors have lodged complaints with GeoComply, but these are typically resolvable by an uninstall/reinstall of the app.
None of this is to say that hiccups and software glitches will be absent, and bettors should be patient. PlayOhio will be tracking app performance and providing updates from Ohio bettors, so you’ll always know where to go to have the best experience in this new market.