LSR Q+A: TransUnion Jumps Into Gaming Touting Data Security Expertise

Written By

Updated on


Financial services provider TransUnion wants in on US sports betting.

The firm announced Wednesday the launch of TransUnion Gaming Services to service the US sports betting industry.

TransUnion, known largely for its credit bureau, believes the American gambling market is worth approximately $119 billion.

The company isn’t new to gaming, however, as TransUnion has serviced more than 84 million transactions in the UK, assisting in identity verification, fraud, and responsible gaming.

LSR caught up with Glen Goldstein, TransUnion Diversified Markets executive vice president and president of TransUnion Gaming Services. Goldstein believes that with TransUnion’s industry connections and 50 years of experience in identity and fraud protection and marketing services, the company is set up well to capitalize on an industry set for “hyper-growth for years to come.”

LSR: You’ve been in overseas markets for 12 years. What’s it like coming into a relatively brand new market? 

Goldstein: A lot of the regulatory framework and environment has been evolving and is now pretty mature compared to 12 years ago.

Now, in the US, we’re in the in the first inning of regulatory growth and that’s a great opportunity for us.

LSR: In that same line of thought, a lot of states aren’t legal markets yet. How important was it to get in while the market is still developing? 

Goldstein: It’s very interesting. If you’re an operator in the US, you’re going to want to be in all 50 states, maybe it’ll be a few shy depending on regulations.

Strategically, operators are starting to stake out their positions now. It’s not an overly crowded space, but the leaders are starting to emerge. We’re at a place it pays to get in early and partner with the ones likely to be successful.

LSR: Knowing TransUnion’s background with data security, that probably will help with a lot of these state legislators who seem very concerned with how customer data is being stored and used. 

Goldstein: That plays into it a ton. It gives us the opportunity, given our international experience in gambling and US experience in other regulated industries tied to data.

I sit on the board of the [American Gaming Association] and the AGA is doing a lot of work with the public sector on education and trying to educate and influence the regulations.

We have the opportunity, just knowing the UK market, you can almost see how the US might evolve, if there’s a way we can get ahead and help shape the regulation so that the US builds a robust gaming industry that respects privacy and bonus abuse and responsible gaming.

People talk about fraud, but responsible gaming will be the phrase by 2023 as regulators and operators start to look at it more. Right now, it’s a Wild West land grab. But if you don’t pay attention to it early … we have lessons from those who didn’t.

LSR: Can you explain the solutions you’re offering to operators a little bit more?

Goldstein: We really get engaged in the entire customer journey. Our focus, we have three solutions.

There’s identity and fraud, they go hand-in-hand, everything from the acquisition phase, creating what I call a “friction-light” experience. We don’t want frictionless. You need to make sure they’re of age, in the right geography and that they are who they say they are. From the information we have on individuals, we can pair them and their phones together almost uniquely. That helps protect companies and players from fraud, bonus abuse and force self-exclusion.

There are instances in the UK, people will exclude themselves as problem gamblers. They’ll get another phone and create another account, that’s hard for operators to police. If you have the data like we do to match a phone with who owns it, we can then identify that phone as the same guy who self-excluded. It’s the wonders of technology to protect players and create a more responsible environment. That’s where most of the focus is.

[But we also] play in the marketing space, from onboarding to player activation. As it gets more competitive, you might feel bombarded by commercials, so really helping companies identify characteristics of players and cater to those players. It’s from a ton of data that is applicable, not just in gaming but in media, consumer product goods, financial services.

LSR: TransUnion plays in a lot of areas, so where does gaming fit into the larger company?

Goldstein: In comparison to the size of TransUnion, it’s not terribly large, because TransUnion is so diversified.

We play a credit bureau across the financial spectrum and a huge insurance business. In the public sector, my business includes technology, retail, e-commerce, utilities, a bunch of industries.

I’ve heard data is the new oil, but it’s ubiquitous for a lot of industries. What you’ll see in the next five years, gaming might be one of the fastest-growing, but it’ll be a long time to catch up to financial services. I would love for it to catch up.

We want to try to power those whole industries.

LSR As you mention, data is huge across industries. It’ll only continue to grow as industries continue to shift online and through mobile. Why is TransUnion positioned to leverage it?

Goldstein: Most people who know us tend to default to know us as a credit bureau. But the truth of the matter is through a number of years of growth and diversification, we are a data and analytics company. We use the information for good.

It’s not just credit data, of which there are three companies. But there are also three companies that have public data that covers 95% of the US.

The intersection of those companies is us.

We have a unique integration of credit data, non-credit data and device data, through acquisitions, that really gives us an identity graph that really can power all kinds of use cases. It’s the unique combination of data and the ability to link it.

That’s what we play with every day, we hold ourselves out as experts and feel we fill a unique space to play a roll in helping the US gambling industry to evolve in a robust way and a safe and responsible way.