Despite indictments handed down by the U.S. Department of Justice against leading online poker providers, a growing number of gaming executives continue to push for federal recognition and regulation of the lucrative trade. Before this can happen however, the online poker industry needs to embrace advanced technologies that ensure the integrity of the games, said James Maida, president and CEO of Gaming Laboratories International (GLI), to an audience at the Southern Gaming Summit, which took place last week at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center in Biloxi, Miss.     

Like many speakers at the conference, Maida believes it is only a matter of time before certain forms of online wagering are approved and regulated at either the state or federal level. But legalization of online poker doesn’t necessarily mean play can begin right away, he cautioned. In order to obtain licenses, Maida believes poker providers will need to augment the integrity of their offerings in a numbers of areas, using technology to detect unfair in-game practices such as collusion and the use of automated computer assisted play.  

“Since you have to login to play and all game action is tracked, online poker systems can easily detect and control problem and underage gambling,” Maida said. “But geo-location technology has yet to be perfected, which could cause issues. And the industry will have figure out ways to stop player collusion and detect the use of bots.”  

Collusion can happen when a group of online poker players are in the same room together and can look at each other’s cards, giving them an unfair advantage over other players in the game. Bots are essentially automated computers that simulate human game play, tricking people into believing they’re playing against fellow human beings instead of a computer.  

Maida added that testing online poker systems may be difficult and time-consuming since the various components of the system may be scattered around the world. “This will not be like approving a new slot machine for the floor. Pieces for the same online systems can reside in the U.S., Europe, the Caribbean… finding and testing them all will take some time.”  

The Southern Gaming Summit is an annual trade show and conference that takes place each May in Biloxi and is presented by the Mississippi Casino Operators Association and BNP Media, the parent company of Casino Journal. This year’s event had over 100 exhibitors and attracted 3,000 attendees. For more information on the event, visit www.sgsummit.com.