Online Gambling Providers Seek Range of Tech Skills

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A number of technology and service providers are positioning themselves to take advantage of what seems to be imminent growth in online gambling, and that’s leading to the creation of tech jobs: Software providers, payment processors, mobile app developers, Location-as-a-Service (LaaS) providers and e-wallet companies are ramping up operations and adding developers, security experts and back-end support staff.

“Development is key here,” says Seth Palansky, vice president of corporate communications for Las Vegas-based World Series of Poker. “You constantly have to create new content to keep people engaged—new pages, new promotions, new marketing.”

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Today, online gambling—and by that, we mean gambling for real money—is legal only in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey. Geolocator or LaaS providers are used to verify that users are actually in one of those states before they can begin to play. Online casinos in Delaware and New Jersey offer blackjack, poker and slots, while Nevada casinos offer only poker for now. A handful of states—including Illinois, Georgia, Michigan and Minnesota—currently offer online versions of their state lotteries, again limited to players physically within their borders. Some states are discussing a joint online lottery.

Meanwhile, many more states are warming to the idea of online gambling, according to Palansky, among them California, Mississippi and New York. “There are a dozen states that have expressed interest,” he says. Given the amount of money at stake, it’s no wonder. According to consultant and data provider H2 Gambling Capital, the U.S. will represent more than 15 percent of global online gambling revenue by 2017, or $2.6 billion.

The business is especially attractive to payment providers. This month, global payments processor First Data entered the space with its PayLucky Solutions for online and offline gaming. “We’re applying the breadth and scale of our transactions to [the market],” says Jonathan J. O’Connor, the company’s general manager, online gambling and alternative markets. “We’re number 1 in credit card, prepaid and ACH (automated clearing house), and so we’re using the power in this vertical.”

The industry is betting California will be the next state to authorize online gambling. Given its size, its entry could accelerate the adoption of online gaming in other locales. So, O’Connor predicts, tech jobs in the space could get a serious boost if California proceeds.

One challenge employers face lies in the sheer breadth of skills professionals need to get ahead in the area. For example, enterprise and software architects must be able to get a grip on the whole business, everything from selling to gaming and fusing the many different types of technology—databases, firewalls, the cloud, payments and apps—used to bring online gaming to life.

For its part, First Data is on the lookout for talented enterprise architects and software architects, says O’Connor. But the need is far-reaching. “The industry needs people in software and back-end support, risk management, security, payment and e-wallet on the processing side,” he observes.

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