Geolocation Issue Knocks US Online Gambling Platforms Offline for an Hour

  • An internal network problem at geolocation provider GeoComply was the cause of the outage
  • New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, and Indiana gaming sites were reportedly impacted
  • A GeoComply spokesperson confirmed that there was no cyber attack
Old TV rainbow bars with the message "no signal"
US online gambling sites were rendered useless for about an hour Thursday night because of issues stemming from a network problem at geolocation services provider GeoComply. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A sudden issue

Online gambling platforms across the US were effectively taken offline on Thursday night due to technical difficulties at the geolocation technology provider GeoComply. New Jersey platforms were the most impacted by the outages, with issues also reported in Nevada, Oregon, and Indiana. 

The outages lasted for about an hour; the problem was pinpointed as trouble with the communications systems at a GeoComply datacenter. The company tweeted Friday about the outages:

All of the affected platforms appear to be fully operational since Thursday’s outages.

Impact of the outage

Online casinos, sportsbooks, and poker rooms felt the impact of the outage. Online poker sites, in particular, had the problem of having to decide whether to pause tournaments or allow players to be blinded off in the hopes that things would resolve themselves quickly. At the time, PokerStars and WSOP.com dealt directly with the affected players, while partypoker took to Twitter to explain the situation:

With rumors circulating about a possible cyber attack, a GeoComply spokesperson confirmed that this was not the case, saying: “The incident was a completely isolated internal network issue and in no way was it a cybersecurity vulnerability.”

The geolocation services of GeoComply integrate with most regulated mobile gambling products that people can download across the country. If someone wants to use a gambling platform on a desktop computer, they need to download the GeoGuard extension. 

precisely determine where the gambler is when trying to place a wager

This type of technology allows operators to precisely determine where the gambler is when trying to place a wager. This ensures that people are not able to place bets when they are outside of state lines. In recent years, GeoComply has had very few problems as the US online gambling market has dramatically expanded.

A similar incident

In March 2020, SBTech-powered gambling sites went down for a number of days because of an attempted cyber attack. As a precautionary measure, SBTech shut down each of its data centers around the world. Dozens of online gambling platforms felt the brunt of these outages, including Golden Nugget and BetAmerica. 

The outage happened just before SBTech merged with DraftKings and Diamond Eagle Acquisition Corp. SBTech had to set aside $30m to cover any losses or claims arising from the outages.