Knowing where a customer is located is a necessity for many potential gaming site operators, and obtaining such information reliably is difficult. New York-based InfoSplit Core Technology is among a handful of companies to develop technology for helping an site operators pinpoint their customers' location--a solution that Net betting businesses badly need.
This fledgling company gained fame earlier this year for its contribution to Yahoo!'s legal battle with the French government regarding the online sale of Nazi memorabilia. When the French government took Yahoo! to court in an effort to force the portal site to block its citizens' access to materials deemed offensive under national law, Yahoo! officials claimed there was no truly effective way to achieve this. InfoSplit founder Cyril Houri, however, testified during the trial and explained that it was quite possible to block French citizens' access to certain sites.
InfoSplit's patent-pending Net-Locator technology enables the company to accurately pinpoint the location of any IP address using its proprietary set of techniques and algorithms. (You can sample this technology, which automatically determines and displays where you're located, by visiting www.infosplit.com.)
The company uses several techniques for tracing users' geographic location. They can follow the trace route for a user and also compare that information to an IP database for more accuracy. "We use current technology and new technologies as they're developed," Houri explained. They've also created a constantly updated map of the Internet to further determine IP addresses.
"We can give very accurate information for all non-America Online users," Houri continued. (For AOL users, Info-Split can only determine which nation the user is dialing up from.) He placed their accuracy levels at 98 percent for determining a user's nation and 90 percent for state determination.
This high degree of accuracy, which he said would continue to rise, will be a boon for nations like Holland, where only Dutch citizens can bet through its newly-launched government-licensed casino.
In the United States, several state lottery organizations have indicated that they would like to set up intranet lottery sales. InfoSplit's ability to pinpoint whether a customer is located within a state's borders could be a necessary ingredient to getting the state lottery Intranet sales ball rolling.
The system works quickly, delivering information in a fraction of a second. Whenever a player logs onto a website, a query is sent to InfoSplit, and InfoSplit's Net-LocatorTM technology determines the player's country, state and metropolitan location. The locator engine sends the player's IP address to various algorithms (Traceroute, ARIN/RIPE/APNIC database and DNS reverse lookup) and returns the player's geographical location.
More specifically, the Traceroute algorithm discovers and interprets the trail left by network packets associated with the player's Web page request to determine the packet's origin. The company also uses software processes known as "daemons" to scour the Internet around the clock searching for new IP addresses. New addresses are found and verified before being added to InfoSplit's geographic map of the Internet. This constant updating makes the company's Internet map more precise, allowing the company to increase its' locator accuracy constantly.
Plus, InfoSplit's technology doesn't employ cookies, because a user's location is determined by network-specific data.
Gaming sites can use InfoSplit's technology in two ways: Some customers may prefer to buy their own Net-Locator engine, which will give each IP address of each inquiry. Other operators may opt for the company's turnkey solution. This choice includes a filter to allow the operator to selectively make the site available based upon a customer's geographic region, Houri explained, which has Info-Split serving as an ASP for the gaming site.
Either system is very easy to implement, Houri added. "The system is very intuitive, and it has very easy functions - get city, get state." The technology also lets the site offer "localized" options based upon each player's location. Sportsbooks, for example, would be able to offer betting options on local events that wouldn't interest punters the next town over.
Another benefit of Info-Split's technology is its ability to determine a customer's bandwidth. Sites that offer streaming media, such as music or videos, would appreciate this extra knowledge.
If the technology is as accurate and dependable as Houri claims, then InfoSplit may very well help a number of governments make the move toward regulating Internet gambling. Currently, many regulators argue against Internet gambling on the basis that they can't be sure whether customers are playing from legal jurisdictions.
As Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Brian Sandoval recently explained, should his state offer Internet gambling there' s no guarantee that another state government would want its residents logging on to the Nevada site. Products like the Info-Split technology could make these concerns negligible.
Vicky Nolan joined the IGN staff in October 1999. She's best known for inventing fire, the wheel and swiss cheese. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org