By – Guillaume Bourcy – Global Sr Director, Data and Solutions Strategy at TeleSign
I’ll spare you another origin story. But for those living under a rock, here is a quick refresher. Sports gambling is now legal in the United States. Online poker is legal. Online casinos are legal. By 2024, the online gambling market will be a $74 billion and growing. Do I have your attention now?
I first wrote about this topic in the summer of 2018. At that point the ruling was fairly new and the fallout was uncertain. However, in less than a year sports gambling has gone mainstream and is almost completely destigmatized. Media giants like ESPN and Fox Sports have adjusted their entire platforms to accommodate the casual gambler, including point spreads, over/under odds and entire shows dedicated entirely to the deep intricacies of online sports betting. iGaming is no longer a niche that we hide from polite conversation, it is a lucrative industry rife with opportunity.
Concurrent with the rise of iGaming has been the meteoric explosion of eSports. Once considered a fringe activity for indoor kids, eSports has become a booming industry of its own with lots of real money for the pros and brands that take part. It’s also covered across many traditional sports media outlets much to the chagrin of many with an old-school mindset. But hate it or love it, eSports are here to stay.
Now dear reader you are probably wondering how long it will be until people actually start iGaming with eSports…and well, it’s already happened. I apologize for the overly long intro, but I wanted to paint a very vivid intro that iGaming is a rocket ship heading to the moon.
Where iGaming presents its most interesting opening is with mobile. The mobile player accounts for about 65% of the industry with the rest via web browser. The mobile player also tends to be more aggressive, more engaged and valuable player over the customer lifecycle. Of course, with large money at play and the inherent risk associated with the industry, there are fraud concerns especially at the mobile level. Let’s look at some ways CPaaS and Mobile Identity can alleviate potential threats.
As with any platform, it’s best to verify users at registration. Once a fraudster accesses an iGaming platform, the mayhem can range from annoyance such as spam to much graver situations up to and including account takeover. These iGaming accounts can be extremely valuable. I’m sure you’ve probably heard stories of people having all of their crypto stolen in common attacks such as a SIM Swap. A similar situation could occur with an iGaming account. Thus it’s extremely important to keep the actual users protected at all times. The best way to verify a user is by using a phone number as a trust anchor. Phone numbers are hard to fake and they include data points that make fraudsters easy to identify. By removing (or never allowing) risky phone numbers from a platform, we remove fraudsters.
Another way to protect against fraud in the iGaming space is verifying transactions. One of the things that makes iGaming accounts so appealing to fraudster is they are often attached to bank accounts and thus subject to transaction fraud in which fraudsters take over an account and use it to make as many purchases as possible, often at high values, before they are caught. iGaming companies can protect their users against this use case by adding 2FA any time a transaction over a certain value was attempted. Heck, sometimes it could even be a pure accident – ever gone to the ATM and tried to take out $20 only to get $200? Whoops!
Using The Data
In addition to using 2FA to register and confirm large transactions, there are dozens of data points around a phone number that can be useful in protecting users. Do the name and address match the carrier data of this phone number? Has this number been ported recently or deactivated in the last 48 hours? Where is this SIM card registered and was it recently swapped? These are just some of the questions that iGaming platforms should be thinking about on a surface level to ensure their users are real and secure. There are of course risks associated with gambling, however the inherent contract a service makes with their users is that the service itself will be safe. With both phone intelligence and machine learning we can eliminate large swaths of fraud simply with data science.
Increase The Engagement
Of course, the use of CPaaS in iGaming doesn’t extend purely to security. CPaaS solutions can build a bridge of trust and communication with a user. Push an SMS to or voice note to a customer to let them know of promotions, freebies, or big money events. What about personalized engagement in the form of one’s favorite athlete directly reaching out using Voice? This could be specifically powerful in eSport, an industry where athletes have an especially powerful bond with their fans.
The possibilities are endless. You could shoot a note out to your entire user base to discuss new features of your product or better yet, a new game. An engaged customer is a valuable customer and regularly communicating with them over their entire life cycle is likely to sweeten your bottom line.
At the end of the day, the most important thing to do is keep users happy and secure if you want them to keep coming back. A great way to do this is to provide solutions that ensure they can participate in a safe environment free of fraud and spam. The best way to do this is by verifying users by their phone numbers, evaluating those phone numbers and eliminating the risky ones. It’s really as simple as splitting a pair of aces in Blackjack. But if we fail to address these concerns on a robust industry with no plateau in sight. Well…then we all go bust.