mkodo’s Stuart Godfree: perfecting the art of geolocation

mkodo Stuart Godfree

Geolocation solutions provider mkodo has been making some big strides in the igaming and lottery sectors, notably in the recently legalised Ontario market. Playing an integral role in that progression, as Managing Director Stuart Godfree explains, is the firm’s tried and tested GeoLocs platform.

For those readers less familiar with the mkodo brand, can you give us some background into the company and what it does?

mkodo is an award-winning B2B supplier of mobile and front-end technology to igaming and lottery operators across lottery, casino, sportsbook and bingo. With over 20 years of expertise, we deliver bespoke mobile-first solutions, creating the best mobile apps, websites and digital user experience in the igaming and lottery industry 

In 2020 we were acquired by global lottery leader, Pollard Banknote. This acquisition has reinforced our position in the market as leading experts in mobile app delivery. We do everything from designing and developing mobile apps and websites to offering a curated suite of products dedicated to the igaming and lottery industry, including our certified geolocation service, GeoLocs.

With the industry still getting back into gear after COVID, how has 2022 shaped up for the firm so far?

For us at mkodo, the biggest topic on the 2022 agenda so far has been the continued opening of the North American market. These exciting developments have seen us continue to promote and develop our suite of products including our proven geolocation platform, GeoLocs, which has been in the market for over 10 years and is built exclusively for igaming and lottery. 

We’ve been busy building new networks and spreading the name and brand of mkodo and GeoLocs. A focus this year, as well as promoting GeoLocs, has been to continue to deliver the best custom content for the operators that we work with in different jurisdictions including The Rank Group’s Grosvenor Casino and Mecca Bingo brands; the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG); Western Canada Lottery Corporation (WCLC); British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC); and some exciting new partnerships in North America, which will be revealed later this year.

We’ve been supplying Canadian operators with apps and websites for over 10 years now, so we have great experience in dealing with the challenges of the ever-evolving landscape and North America opening up.

You’re taking your geolocation product, GeoLocs, to SBC Summit Barcelona. Can you tell us more about what GeoLocs is and how it works?

We created GeoLocs in 2009, when we delivered our first igaming app, as we had to have a geolocation compliance plan as part of Apple’s App Store submission requirements. Just over three years ago we knew that we had a valuable product that we should productise and offer to operators. So, that’s what we’ve done; we’ve taken the product effectively out of our portfolio, rebranded it, converted it into a very simple Software Development Kit, and we are now selling it as a standalone solution that all igaming and lottery operators can implement and benefit from.

The service is a location validation and regulatory platform. It works by taking the location information that we get from a device and testing it for validity (whether the information we believe is truthful). The service then uses that information to determine whether the device is in a regulated region. If the user is not in a regulated region, GeoLocs will deny access to the service.

Can you talk more generally about GeoLocs – where is it currently in operation? 

The most exciting market for GeoLocs right now is Ontario. We’ve been working with Ontario Lottery Group (OLG) providing their geolocation platform, both for their apps and their web products, for over two and a half years now. Since then, we’ve effectively been the only geolocation platform provider in Ontario. 

Now that the market has opened up, it’s a very exciting time for us, because not only do we have a solid reputation with our partners at OLG, but we understand the market and the AGCO’s guidelines, extremely well. We have a fully ratified platform that has been tested with tens of thousands of location requests an hour. So, not only do we know that we have a product that can deal with the amount of traffic and load that a sizable place like Ontario has, but we can also deal with all the regulatory compliance that applies in Ontario as well.

We’ve also been taking on new clients across North America, which we will announce later this year. But effectively all our clients across multiple jurisdictions are using GeoLocs in some shape or form. 

What are some of the key features GeoLocs delivers?

GeoLocs has had an evolution and development cycle that now spans over 12 years. So, it’s a very mature product. One of the main fundamentals of GeoLocs has always been that the product is incredibly self-serviceable. Operators can manage the product successfully without mkodo’s intervention. They can do a lot of the work that they need to do, including managing and creating geo-boundaries, entirely for themselves. And that is, I think, one of its key attributes. 

Another significant key attribute is that we have worked in, and approached, the product very much from the app world (geolocation is essential for igaming and lottery operators who are running apps). We have a whole set of proven tooling that helps operators to validate and test when they’re deploying this technology into the app space. It’s a genuinely seamless integration – and that’s one of its main crucial benefits. 

The seamless nature of GeoLocs doesn’t end there. With the service, there’s no need for users to download a companion app in order to verify location. This makes for a much smoother user experience on both mobile apps and web. 

Also, the fact that it is a platform that’s now clouded, we operate it across multiple jurisdictions, multiple states across the planet, making it highly available. GeoLocs has such a high availability because we run it on both Azure and AWS Amazon Services, which gives us a great amount of flexibility and performance.

It really is a great platform. It’s very easy to use. And it is without a lot of constraints and legacy that many other geolocation vendors, with whom we compete, carry. I think many of our customers and future customers will be delighted to be working with GeoLocs.

What are the big geolocation challenges currently, and do you think the industry is doing enough to address them?

When it comes to geolocation, there are a few challenges I can think of that the industry is currently facing. One being that there has only really been one supplier in the market, meaning there hasn’t been much choice for operators. With the introduction of GeoLocs, and other competitors in the market, operators are starting to have more choice around who they want to partner with and what’s important to them from a geolocation supplier. 

Since GeoLocs is dedicated to the igaming and lottery sector we truly understand the needs of operators when it comes to geolocation in terms of the various regulations and jurisdictions. This is important when looking for a geolocation provider as the different frameworks within various regulations and jurisdictions can be complicated to manage, so working with a partner who is dedicated to the industry and understands the market is invaluable.

What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in geolocation technology recently and how are they benefitting both operators and the end user?

Some of the biggest changes we’ve seen in geolocation more recently is how the technology can (and is) being used, not just for compliance, but for customer engagement and targeted marketing too. 

Geolocation technology, such as what we use for GeoLocs, can also be used by operators for location-based marketing. This works by targeting players in a specified region with promotional offers and marketing comms. For example, if a player happens to be in or near an operator’s shop or casino, geolocation technology can be used to send notifications about offers. This helps to increase overall engagement of players. And players benefit by learning about marketing information that’s personalised and relevant to them.

Geolocation aside, what other areas of the mkodo business can we look to for new developments and innovations?

We’re continuing to grow at a rapid rate, offering all our products and services to the igaming and lottery industry from geolocation to bespoke apps built on a white label framework. There’s a continued focus on our core offering of delivering the best-in-class, customised casino, sports betting and lottery apps and we’re working with a number of new clients who are big names in the industry. 

Not only that, but we’ve also seen an increase in the number of operators interested in our consultancy services. And have been providing our expert insight on everything, from app store guidelines to improved user experience and interface.