Artificial intelligence (aka AI), big data, algorithms, machine learning and deep thinking. What once seemed like the work of science fiction is now a part of our everyday lives, with useful and positive digital technologies being developed all the time.
A significant amount of research and development is dedicated to improving online services using AI throughout many sectors, from entertainment and science to retail and education. And now – online gambling.
However, gambling and AI hasn’t historically had a great relationship. After all, chess computers accomplished their first win over strong chess players back in the late 1980s, with the most infamous success being the victory of Deep Blue over World Chess Champion, Garry Kasparov in 1997.
Fast-forward to present day and with the availability of gambling at players’ fingertips, it’s only natural that we've started to use AI to streamline and personalise the online gaming experience and also tackle some of the wider issues that affect online gambling.
User Experience (UX) makes it into nearly every conversation about creating the best possible systems for personalised, optimised services. In fact, Vice President and Research Director at Forrester, Dane Anderson, has said in the past:
"2017 will be the year the big data floodgates open, driven by a voracious appetite for deeper contextual insights that drive customer engagement via mobile wearables and IoT."
Interestingly, 67% of consumers said they would remain loyal to a bookie that offered a higher level of personalised service. Its clear personalisation is what consumers want as 72% said they don't feel bookmakers are doing enough to offer player personalisation.
With this window of opportunity, platforms have been using AI to meet the demand for custom-made products, services, and the expectations of how they will be set up. Take for example the cold, annoying customer service “bots” that we all know and hate. They are now being replaced by a new breed of intelligent assistance.
Learning from players’ habits, new AI-driven agents give more personalised information across platforms. This includes the games you’ve played before and suggesting new games to try based on patterns of your choices.
Perhaps more importantly, gone is the era of 3-5 working day response windows – finally! AI-based bots can give faster, truly customer-focused and relevant outcome to issues.
One of the ongoing issues for the gambling industry is creating odds. This issue is more common in traditional bricks-and-mortar casinos, where there is little to no data collected to produce odds.
With software powered by AI, online casino operators can give players more realistic odds by analysing scoring patterns. However, it’s not just operators that can reap the benefits of AI engines, but also us, the players.
For example, online database Sharkscope uses software to crawl the Internet, collecting and intelligently analysing online poker data, to provide real-time and updated player and tournament stats.
This use of AI to collect information is a virtual power because players can make better-informed decisions about their own opportunities of winning.
Insightful data analysis using AI has the scope to not only reward, but to protect. As well as improving the security and experience for players, online casinos also have the opportunity to safeguard against dishonest players using their platform.
Due to their virtual nature, online casinos are at a considerable disadvantage compared to physical casinos when it comes to moderating and supervising players using their services. The lack of CCTV, or a version of it, that can be used in online casinos creates a blind spot for operators – there’s only so much that can be done without eagle-eyed security guards!
In some cases, players may use their own, rigged AI bots to take an unfair advantage over the house, or simultaneously use probability programs that would help them get favourable results.
Using AI to combat against the ill-intentions of certain players can benefit both casino operators and well-intentioned players. Where software can detect and quickly eliminate any cheating systems in place.
However, the true challenge is for one cat and mouse game to outrun the other, where the casino’s AI and a crooked AI may go head to head to beat one another.
Despite it being a leisurely activity, online gambling can breed unfortunate real-life issues, such as problem gambling.
In the event where a player may grow dependent on online gambling, it’s becoming more and more possible to use AI to identify early signs of addiction in players’ habits. This includes how long they play games for, how often, how much money they deposit, and more data that’s collected with every online game.
For example, gambling company Kindred Group has very recently partnered with The City University London and gambling analytics company BetBuddy for a product named PS-EDS (Player Safety Early Detection System).
The ideal version of this technology would collect data across players’ games and different demographics. This data would then be analysed to detect questionable gambling habits to prevent gambling problems.
So far, PS-EDS has had an 87% accuracy with the detection of problematic behaviour, so it’s very likely to see the product become widely available in the near future.
The advancements in AI in the last 10 years have been extraordinary in terms of the new and essential benefits they can offer to services like online gambling. With technologies that can help both operators and players, we’re likely to see a big drive behind implementing AI-driven tools in the coming years, sure to change the online gaming and gambling experience, as well as gambling operations for the better.
Michael Legg is the digital marketing executive for OnlineBingo.co.uk. He’s only been in the iGaming industry for 18 months, but has quickly picked up a deep breadth of knowledge to pass on to readers.
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