By Ellen M. Zavian, Editor-in-Chief, MLB
In 2018, when Anna Sainsbury departed GeoComply, the company she founded in 2011, she couldn’t stay away too long from her baby.
True to form, she returned earlier this year as the CEO of the tech unicorn, which provides state-of-the-art geolocation security solutions in gaming, financial services, media, and entertainment.
Today, GeoComply has offices in eight countries and is a leading solution provider in meeting the complex regulatory needs of the U.S. gaming industry.
MLB caught up with Anna while she was in London, having meetings and getting ready for the ICE Gaming Conference in mid-April.
Question: How did you end up in gaming, with a focus on integrity and data?
Answer: We looked at the original expectations that U.S. legislations were seeking to achieve, and we knew we could meet their minimum expectations, but believed we could add much more, especially when adding the layer of integrity. After 10 years of setting up our business, not only has the data usage per user expanded, but so has the occurrence of users aiming to tamper and mask their geolocation when placing a bet. Our focus is all about adding value to our customers in a way that will lower their risks. Two examples of added value are our efforts in creating a coalition, to share best practices, and developing state-of-the-art credit card fraud protection tools.
Q: As you work with many sports organizations/leagues, what do you wish they understood a bit more before you enter the room?
A: The general ask for us is that new organizations consider protecting their end user through a combination of integrity and regulations. If we uphold the intent of how each regulation is written, which is to protect the integrity of the player and the game and mitigate fraud, we can lower the risk of money ending up in the wrong hands.
Q: Do you believe the global gaming community will achieve international standards and have a type of international regulation policy when it comes to gaming?
A: I’m a realist and know that international regulations and having one system will be out of reach for the foreseeable future. But I do hope that in working with international regulators, we can all implement data protections with an eye on how it impacts law enforcement. Creating safety across the internet, especially as it relates to children, is critical for the internet to be safe for all users. We need to find a balance between privacy and the ability for law enforcement to find those taking advantage of people online. This is a view I share with Ifrah Law, a focus on creating the greater good in the industry.
Q: How has GeoComply been looking at the other ‘gaming’ industry, esports?
A: We have had a number of conversations about esports. We have found that gaming regulators lean in with integrity and vulnerability when it comes to social gaming and esports. Ultimately, we want to see the same protections across the internet, regardless of the market.
Q: Do you gamble? If so, what is your sport of choice?
A: I don’t gamble and I don’t live in a jurisdiction that makes it easily accessible. Every once in a while, when the Super Bowl approaches, I think about placing a bet, but never have. However, I used to play poker!
Q: What drew you into the geolocation space?
A: At the start it was all about solving a problem. That is what I enjoy doing, taking on a challenge. However, as time passed, I started to find additional problems, like the law enforcement matter, diversity in the industry, and even now dealing with the war in Ukraine. To me, it all boils down to interpersonal connections. Our team has a great capacity to solve many of these issues by building the needed technology to protect the vulnerable. While it is great to make money, it is these ‘greater good’ challenges that remain the most rewarding for us.
Q: What does sport integrity mean to you, as it relates to the gaming industry, for the 21st century?
- Integrity is a particularly foundational value in the gaming industry.
- As concerns have mounted in recent weeks regarding threats to the sports integrity topic, we in the field have to be vigilant against such potential threats now and into the future.
- As regulated sports betting rolls out across the US and Ontario, customers, clients, and governments alike will be looking to our industry’s practices for reliable standards on identification, payments, AML, geolocation, and fraud.
- We have the important responsibility of creating a positive social impact.
- This includes advertising best practices and sports integrity.
- Many in this industry are committed to an exceptional user experience that synthesizes all these values in a top-tier regulated market, with the support of barrier-free technologies.
- However, this will only be possible when industry stakeholders, regulators, leagues, media and academia come to a consensus on standards for practice and collaboration.
- Although there will always be challenges to solve, we at GeoComply are excited for the future of integrity in gaming.
 Geolocation is the process of determining the geographic position of an object.
 Anna is deeply dedicated to philanthropy. IMPACT, GeoComply’s CSR division, directs attention towards addressing some of the most difficult challenges facing women and children and her own charity, Conscious Gaming, focuses on building a responsible-gaming ecosystem.