On November 26th, residents of New Jersey will be able to gamble legally online. As a pioneer in this new cyber endeavor, Atlantic City's online casino operators are anticipating snafus. One of those snafus will most likely be the inconvenience of small, unintended no-play zones within the borders of New Jersey.
What U.S. Law Requires
U.S. law decrees that players must be physically present within the borders of New Jersey in order to gamble online in that state. The question of how to enforce this law has been a tricky one. While a specific technology is now in place to make sure people gambling from home keep it legal, that technology has not yet been perfected.
The Problem With Geo-Fencing
The technology, called geo-fencing, will be used by New Jersey authorities to make sure that gamblers are indeed geographically located within the state while playing, as happen in Delaware. The potential snafu: New Jersey's digital fence boundaries do not match up perfectly with the physical boundaries of the state. At this time, according to experts with the geo-fencing industry, it is neither possible nor practical for digital fencing boundaries to be lined up perfectly with existing state boundaries.
Why Geo-Fencing Lacks Precision
In today's age of smart phones and instant GPS signals, it may seem as if the boundaries of digital fencing could and should be more precise. The line-up could, in fact, be more precise if it weren't for the fact that the border of New Jersey directly connects with the borders of Pennsylvania and New York.
Because the boundaries Pennsylvania and New York lie in such close proximity to the boundaries of New Jersey, it would be possible for people on the cusp of Pennsylvania and New York to take advantage of the New Jersey online gambling system by logging on illegally. Fort this reason, digital fence borders have been moved inland somewhat to guard against such subversion.
In order to keep New York and Pennsylvania "illegals" out, however, some honest New Jersey gamblers will inevitably get caught in unintended no-play zones. These people, through no fault of their own, could lose their access to online New Jersey casinos. Anticipated problem areas at this time are small and include properties along the Hudson and Delaware rivers. When the system rolls out on November 26th, the magnitude of this potential snafu will undoubtedly become more evident.
Geo-Fencing: Other Applications
Geo-fencing was not invented for the sole purpose of enforcing state gambling laws. The technology is known the marketing world as a way to monitor customer whereabouts and offer something called proximity marketing.
Proximity Marketing: Following Customers Around
Proximity marketing uses GPS technology to track consumer whereabouts. When a customer drives into the parking lot of Best Buy, for example, proximity marketing could be used to deliver a Best Buy coupon or advertisement to that person's smart phone. Indeed, when creative advertisers put their heads together, the marketing applications of geo-fencing will be immensely beneficial to businesses.
In spite of its vast potential, proximity marketing has yet to hit its stride in the American business world. Although the hype over proximity marketing may be greater than the actual applications at this time, that is expected to change as more Americans obtain smart phones and become familiar with location-aware software. It is anticipated that the price of this technology will eventually come down, making it even more accessible to advertising businesses.
Locating Stolen Vehicles
Geo-fencing could also potentially be used to help locate stolen vehicles. The True Tracker Pro 6.0 GPS tracking device, for example, is a GPS device that can be discretely attached to a motorcycle. In the event of its theft, the motorcycle's whereabouts could be tracked via cell phone, lap top, or another computer device.
Tracking Missing Animals and People
Geo-fencing can also be used to keep tabs on animals and people. In Kenya, for example, a mobile phone SIM card is attached to endangered elephants' collars. Geo-fence technology allows zoologists and farmers to track the elephants' whereabouts, ensuring the animals' safety and preventing elephant crop-raiding, a phenomenon which can have a devastating effect on Kenyan farmland.
This technology has similar implications for tracking the whereabouts of people, including young children, the elderly, and criminals who need to be monitored by law enforcement.
Electronic Pet Containment Systems
A more basic variation on geo-fencing is the electronic pet containment system, or invisible fence. Some pet collars, particularly those for dogs, contain GPS technology which keeps track of the location of the animal. If the animal crosses the "invisible" boundary, some type of electric shock is delivered to discourage wandering behavior, but sincerely we consider this method too invasive, stupid and dangerous for the animal itself. Not all invisible fences use GPS systems, but as technology develops, more are likely to do so.
Locaid: Provider of Geo-Fencing Technology
Last August, a company called Locaid announced its desire to provide "geolocation and compliance technology" to all three states with legalized online gambling: Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey. The company, founded in 2005, provides asset protection, device tracking, and other high-tech services for approximately 415 million devices, according to VentureBeat.com.
Locaid is the world's largest location-as-a-service company. The company's CEO, Rip Gerber, claims his company's technology is the only one that "can't be spoofed" and that in some locations, accuracy can be verified by as close as five feet.
In some spots near the border of New Jersey, unfortunately, that would be five feet too many. It is probable that some gamblers, although physically present in New Jersey, will find themselves locked out of legal online gambling when the system goes live in late November due to inadvertent no-play zones. Until geo-fencing technology can be perfected down to the millimeter, this is likely to remain a problem.