Artificial Intelligence could change the online gambling world

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has largely been portrayed, in popular culture at least, as something to be wary of, lest the computers rise up to overthrow us. The entire Terminator movie franchise is built on this premise, and there are a number of shows, movies and games which caution against making computing systems ‘too intelligent’. However, while murderous AI networks causing a revolution and taking over may or may not be a reality in the future, this technology is of immense utility in the present. AI is being used in almost every field imaginable, from healthcare to finance to transport, and it has numerous other applications which haven’t been implemented on a large scale yet. One of these is in the online gambling world. While AI is being increasingly used for developing games, so that the actions of the player change the way the game progresses and the challenges that the character encounters, it is not yet as prevalent in the online gambling world. However, there are huge implications for the sector if AI is implemented correctly.

The main applications of AI within online gambling lie with its ability to ‘think’ i.e. its ability to predict actions as well as recognize patterns and problems. One of the biggest opportunities to use AI, thus, is in recognizing players, both good and bad. On the good side, AI could use past spending patterns, behaviour and other inputs to identify potential VIPs, so that the casino operator can direct resources towards them and provide them with personalized and customized services, thus increasing the revenue potential from such clients. On the flip side, it can also be used to identify problem gamblers, those with an addiction or even those who have not yet been diagnosed but are close to having a problem. Having done so, the casino operator can bar them from the floor or the website, as the case may be, and provide them with help. Quirkily enough, the best application of AI comes from the interpretation of human emotions, where a VIP’s need to be served promptly and differently, along with a problem gambler’s need to fuel his or her addiction, are what allows the technology to correctly identify them.

There are already quite a few tools using AI in this regard. For example, Mindway AI, a company dealing with respectable gambling solutions, has recently come up with GameScanner and Gamalyze, two tools to help operators determine problem gamblers. GameScanner has been proven to identify problem gamblers with the same success rate as the best psychologists in the field, and it also has an explanation of each gambler’s risk level. Gamalyze, on the other hand, is a self-testing online card game, where the player’s decision-making during the game is analyzed, and advice is then disseminated if needed. Additionally, the company has also addressed the fact that at the moment, the only option a gambling operator has to deal with a problem gambler is to close their account. This is not effective, as only 20% of problem gamblers use a ‘hard stop’ as a solution for their issues. Their tool, GameChanger, aims to provide a half-way solution. It is a training game which has both gambling and non-gambling elements, where the purpose is to identify the non-gambling elements to gain rewards. This gives the user the time to work out if they want to take the next gamble or not, which has been identified as a key parameter to address gambling addictions.

Another important use-case is for identifying potential underage gambling. In physical locations, AI can work with the existing CCTV setups to scan customers and send an alert if anyone is identified as being underage. This would be done on the basis of their facial features, gait and numerous other inputs which would be checked against an evolving algorithm. This may be a bigger challenge for online casinos that pay real money, as there would be no input in terms of the person’s physical features to use for verification. However, such casinos could easily make it mandatory for new users to click a picture with their phone or laptop camera and submit it for verification, along with their identification documents, for the AI to potentially identify underage users.

These solutions have become even more important during the current climate, with the coronavirus forcing millions of people to stay inside, and thus with more time on their hands. Boredom is on the rise, and so more and more people are seeking out online gambling as a quick fix, which can potentially lead to many more such cases. However, in the medium to long-term, it is useless to talk about AI without talking about blockchain technology. Blockchain is what allows the quality of the data to be unimpeachable, with it being much harder to hack systems with blockchain and thus manipulate the data.

While widespread adoption is still some time away as computing power is still too slow to support mainstream implementation, these are some of the ways in which AI can make an immediate impact on the online gambling sector. It is imperative for operators to educate themselves about what AI can do to solve their biggest problems or capitalize on their biggest opportunities. AI can allow the industry’s marketing to transform itself, from using a broad brush to a fine scalpel, in that it can allow targeted, specific, individual actions instead of broad programs, and so the industry leaders and operators must be prepared to allow this revolution to take place.

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