GeoComply just locked in a major win. On Tuesday, John A. Pappas revealed to his social media followers that he accepted a job with the location detection software and cybersecurity provider. Today, he talked to Bonus about his new role as senior vice president of government and public affairs.
Before starting full-time work at GeoComply last month, Pappas was perhaps best known as the iDEA Growth (iDevelopment and Economic Association) state advocacy director. He says he’ll continue his connection with the group, but now as an association member.
Pappas had been consulting for GeoComply “for several years,” he said on LinkedIn on Tuesday.
The firm he founded and heads, Corridor Consulting, is primarily perceived as US online casino legalization consultancy. His days of gambling advocacy date back to at least 2007, when he lobbied on behalf of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA).
He sees education as the first goal of any online gambling legalization or expansion effort. Pappas emphasizes that gambling advocates can’t just airdrop into a situation and expect understanding.
However, sometimes even the best efforts can feel futile. Hence, efforts to work with journalists from The New York Times didn’t seem to help as much as he’d hoped. So now, lawmakers and regulators are reacting to the Times coverage of the industry that was published on Nov. 20.
Pappas on GeoComply Role, Gambling Advocacy, and More
Pappas talked to Bonus about many issues, including responsible gambling. GeoComply donated money and tech to Conscious Gaming (CG) but is helping nonprofits outside of the industry, too.
Bonus questions are in bold, and his answers are below.
What’s your first priority in your new role?
My priority is to learn and then share. GeoComply is often viewed as a geolocation compliance solution, but the company is so much more than that. Along with pinpoint accurate location detection, they leverage their data to innovate the KYC process, fight AML (Anti-Money Laundering) fraud, eliminate bonus abuse, reduce the risk of credit card chargebacks, and mitigate account takeovers.
These are all cyber security priorities for the online gaming industry and many other digital economy sectors. The work GeoComply is doing in the digital streaming and fintech industries is truly amazing. Understanding the full scope of how their services protect consumers and businesses online and then articulating it to policymakers and the media will be a core objective for me in the coming months.
What had you already been doing for GeoComply? Will that change?
I will continue my work connecting their teams with policymakers and developing strategic communications. Being in a position to collaborate with leaders more closely throughout the company allows me to better shape and prioritize how we engage and with who we engage. It is exciting to be inside a company that values individuals who drive ideas and discussions on improving, innovating, and growing.
You say GeoComply works to solve a problem. What’s the problem?
GeoComply was the first and remains the best solution to the geolocation problem.
The company founders (Anna Sainsbury and David Briggs) recognized this challenge. They spearheaded the effort to work with the gaming industry, regulators, and innovators in hi-tech to develop a technology that solved the geolocation conundrum. With their solution, there is likely a US industry today.
Over the years, they have replicated this approach to strengthen the accuracy of their core geolocation products and address new problems that face the gaming industry. It has been impressive to see how the team anticipates a problem and works quickly to create a solution.
Too often, industry leaders get complacent and lose sight of issues simmering all around them as their business grows. GeoComply keeps an eye on every pot on the stove, so nothing boils over.
Will you continue to work with iDEA Growth? How?
I am very proud of the work that iDEA Growth does to advocate for the industry and provide a collective voice. GeoComply is honored to continue as a member of this important organization, and I am pleased to serve on iDEA’s member committee that helps shape legislative and regulatory priorities.
Will you continue to advocate for online casino legalization in states?
GeoComply feels strongly that consumers and communities are best protected when states affirmatively license and regulate online gaming.
We all know that the black market exists today. Just search the internet, and it is not hard to find.
We are excited to share with lawmakers, regulators, and law enforcement how our technology plays a vital role in realizing a safe and compliant online gaming environment. I believe we provide a unique perspective to the chorus of advocates and that our voice can help drive the legalization and regulation discussions in state capitals as we advance.
Do you still believe Indiana will be next to legalize online casino?
I certainly expect that Indiana will have our full attention. But we will also engage in other states, like New York and Illinois.
This has always been an education process. I stress process, because airdropping into a state and trying to pass complex legislation is not a strategy for success. The education must be sustained, and you must build lawmaker trust and confidence over time.
Will Fanatics be an operator to watch?
From our perspective, any brand that grows the market is positive, and Fanatics could well fit that profile. The illegal industry is still substantial, and far too many players are just not aware of the difference between the legal operators and the offshore guys; and potentially, Fanatics coming into the market will provide another platform to educate a new demographic of players that they are better off betting safe.
How should GeoComply respond to the Times story backlash?
The frustrating thing about the New York Times was that we tried to correct some mischaracterizations before they even went to print. GeoComply spoke to New York Times reporters on several occasions since this summer. We explained that the concerns they were raising are more characteristics of the illegal market and state lawmakers and regulators now had the ability to set the rules for legal sports betting. We explained how we, as a company, are licensed and required to provide real-time suspicious activity reports and flag and block potentially fraudulent accounts. All these controls are essential to protecting consumers, and none of them are available to unknowing US residents drawn into betting with unregulated online sportsbooks. Legalization is the biggest step the US has taken to make consumers safer, and none of that got due attention from the journalists. Unfortunately, our facts did not meet their narrative and were excluded from their reporting.
As an industry, we must better explain all the fundamental ways we protect consumers and benefit state economies. But we also must have the awareness that we can do better. We are having these important discussions through our leadership positions within iDEA Growth and the American Gaming Association.
Will you work to get Conscious Gaming moving again?
The spirit of Conscious Gaming is still very much alive within the company through our new IMPACT division that supports responsible gaming initiatives throughout North America. Through IMPACT, we are also working with the Child Rescue Coalition and the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) so that our technology has the power to thwart online predators. We also continue to advocate for a national self-exclusion database; although not as the developer of that product, which is now owned by IXUP.
What else should Bonus readers know about you?
I have been so closely connected with the online gaming industry dating back to UIGEA, that many people think I just eat, breathe and sleep gambling issues.
Believe it or not, I have other passions and hobbies. I love to cook and try to inspire my kids (6 and 8) to be their own chefs. I am a sports junkie and passionate about my Arizona Wildcats basketball program. I have also been hijacked by marriage to always root for Michigan over Ohio State. When I am not indoors cooking, eating, and watching sports, I love to be at the beach in Delaware or on any golf course that will allow me.