Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

April 4, 2011

How Is This Gonna Work Exactly?

Posted by Hunter

From a story in today's Las Vegas Sun about sportsbook apps coming to smartphones:

After launching its first application for BlackBerry phones in September, the company has introduced the application for Android and will soon be compatible with iPhones.

Apple requires all App Store bound apps to go through an approval process. They don't tell us where these reviewers are but most people seem to think they're in California, Massachusetts and Texas. Per state law, this app only works inside Nevada's borders.

Is Apple going to come out to Nevada just to review this app? If so, that's not an option that is generally available to other developers and would obviously cost money. Is Leroy's going to break gaming regulations to allow Apple's testers to opt out of the location targeting? Maybe some sort of simulated test mode that tries to straddle both requirements?

This issue may be unique to the iPhone and thus maybe not all that interesting of a story in the general sense... but it shows how technology is intersecting with gaming almost continuously these days. Perhaps telling is the fact that Apple removed specific language that prohibited gambling apps several months back, opening the door to non-simulated wagering.

On this topic, I'm certain that there is more to come.


Read archived comments (12 so far)
April 4, 2011 8:00 PM Posted by parchedearth

Very interesting article and if valid this is truly an advance in online wagering. Frankly, I wonder what the federal govt thinks about this app and its legality. I'm not an expert on Nevada state law, but is it even legal to fund a gaming account through a credit card? My bet is someone contacts Leroy's and this gets shut down within the week.

April 4, 2011 8:42 PM Posted by Dave

They've been doing this since February--the Gaming Control Board signed off on it.

It's account wagering, which you can already do over the phone and, in some cases, through an intranet connection. Racetracks have been taking bets via telephone and Internet account wagering for years. You have to show up personally to open your account and fill out tax forms and everything. The federal government definitely knows what's going on.

I will discuss my experiences with the Leory's Blackberry App very soon on this very site.

April 4, 2011 8:58 PM Posted by mike_ch

Do you submit your source code to Apple? Can't Apple just look at the code and verify that the coding does what it claims to do and nothing else?

I doubt Apple reps keep bank accounts with every bank that has submitted an app, for example.

April 4, 2011 9:15 PM Posted by Hunter

No, you submit a finished binary - no source code is ever submitted (for instance, Vegas Mate is about 25k lines - they'd never be able to hire enough people to check submissions this way, plus many (most?) developers would never give Apple their source code).

For something like a bank, the submitter has to include a test account's set of credentials.

The difference here is that it is geographically limited - supposedly, when they fire it up to test in Cupertino, it won't work.

April 4, 2011 11:28 PM Posted by mike_ch

Then they'll probably just turn off their GeoIP filter until it's approved. Alternatively, they do have three stores worth of employees in NV who often have to sit on inventory of new product for a day or two and not sell one, so they could ask someone in authority there to fire it up and see if it connects.

To me, I think I foresee a huge cottage industry of Nevada based VPNs.

April 5, 2011 7:39 AM Posted by Dave

I'm thinking of doing a podcast interview with these guys for UNLV--any questions you guys want asked?

April 5, 2011 9:13 AM Posted by Hunter

I'm interested in the regulatory approval process - what that's been like, etc...

Also, they're not a software company but they are building software. Did they hire a firm to do the work or bring people in-house? The BB screens I've seen are pretty ugly so I'm wondering if they really have that software DNA.

What's next for them? Are they building software like this because they want to use that experience to expand into other forms of gambling or are they just trying to facilitate their existing business?

Projections on how much of their business will be done this way?

Security - anytime there's money involved, your value as a target goes up. What kinds of protections and precautions are in place? Any concerns here?

April 8, 2011 2:59 PM Posted by Marc

The ESPN Watch app doesn't allow people with certain cable service use their app to stream TV, but they can use the other features. I'd imagine Leroy's could do something like this, no? Perhaps he app prompts the user to input their address and allow Nevada residents to wager, while others can just view the lines, etc. I'm thinking similar application of the way some gas stations have you enter the billing zip code of your credit card before filling your car.

April 8, 2011 3:37 PM Posted by Hunter

According to the article, they're using geo-location to make sure non-Nevadan's can't bet... Perhaps the app does allow users outside that area to get information, etc... That's what I would do if I were building it.

Still, I'm sure Apple will want to review the betting part of the app (primary focus) so I still think it's interesting to see how they're going to handle that. If it gets approved, most likely we'll never know how that was resolved.

April 8, 2011 3:55 PM Posted by Marc

Thanks for your perspective, Hunter. It's pretty cool to have a different POV on this. There's so much coverage on the internet gambling space and, clearly, a lot of money that a lot of eyes will be on this. It should set a major precedent for many other companies. I'm curious to see how this all turns out.

April 10, 2011 1:59 PM Posted by mike_ch

That was my point about VPNs, you can buy VPNs in other countries so that geoIP filters can't recognize where you're from. Fans of foreign TV such as myself are probably more highly familiar with these services since we can't watch live BBC One in any kind of ethical manner.

The question I guess is whether they will require a Nevada physical address or not, depending on whether they want to appeal simply to state residents or also out-of-state tourists. If the latter, there's going to be a lot of out of state people using VPNs to fake Nevada IPs.

My guess is Apple winds up rejecting the app over being too much hassle, but officially does so by adding a new clause to the app developer agreement that they won't accept any kind of wagering of real money in an app. Gambling just seems too much like porn in being one of those things Apple will just pre-emptively nix and Jobs will tell some drunk blogger that he's done it for the parents. (roll eyes)

April 10, 2011 2:19 PM Posted by Hunter

According to the article, they're using geo-location tech - GPS and cell tower triangulation - not anything IP based.

Apple *removed* the clause prohibiting gambling-apps so it would be a little odd to put it back in. It was obviously removed for a reason.

There are already apps in the store, like Betfair, that allow betting in jurisdictions where it is legal.