Artificial intelligence and machine learning power online marketing, allowing businesses to create promotions targeted toward customers in a variety of ways. When it comes to responsible gambling, that technology can lead to problematic results for some people.
Like with any other tool, though, the potential for harmful effects is all about how actual human beings use AI. One marketing company that works with some of the biggest gambling companies in the world has designed its system to reduce problem gambling.
Responsible gambling begins with human decisions
Online gambling firms have shared their desire to intervene in situations and raise players’ awareness of problem gambling. There are limits to human capabilities in this regard, though, even with the best of intentions.
Monitoring all activity on casino and poker apps would require an army of people. Additionally, the gambling companies would need to train each member of that staff to identify the signs of problematic behavior. Even for trained staff, there is some subjectivity in making a determination of what does and does not represent problem gambling.
Despite the challenges that promoting responsible gambling present, the firms that profit from gaming bear more responsibility than simply throwing a disclaimer with a phone number up on the screen. As they employ targeted marketing, there is a potential to do so in a harmful way for those who struggle with pathological gambling.
Such systems track behavior and suggest opportunities to players based on their preferences. For someone with compulsive gambling issues, that can be a dangerous trigger. Optimove shows how the same technology that produces that targeted marketing can also assist gambling companies in making decisions about responsible gambling interventions.
How AI can empower online gambling companies
Optimove, which helps gaming firms like BetMGM, Penn National Gaming, and Rush Street Interactive reach and retain customers, has put its staff to work on integrating responsible gambling measures into its tech. Jonathan Inbar, Optimove’s Director of Strategic Services, explains how the responsible gambling integration works.
“The model uses AI and machine learning algorithms to analyze customer behavior and detect patterns that indicate the likelihood of problematic gambling,” Inbar said. “Optimove collects data from multiple sources, including customer transactions, game plays, and customer service interactions. This data is then analyzed using machine learning algorithms to identify patterns that may indicate a customer is at risk of developing a gambling problem.”
“The machine learning algorithms used in the predictive model are trained on historical data to identify patterns associated with at-risk players. These patterns may include chasing losses, playing for extended periods, or placing large bets. Once the model has been trained, it can be used to analyze new data in real time and identify customers who exhibit similar patterns.”
“When a customer is identified as at risk of developing a gambling problem, the Optimove CRM [Customer Relationship Management] software can create targeted messaging and promotions that encourage responsible gambling. For example, a customer identified as being at risk of developing a gambling problem may be offered self-exclusion options or provided with resources for seeking help.”
As helpful as identifying potentially problematic behavior can be for helping online gambling companies identify when to intervene, human beings are not machines. Simple behavior patterns by themselves are merely indications, not proof of a gambling problem. Inbar says Optimove accounts for human complexity in its CRM software.
Using artificial to supplement organic intelligence
Inbar explains that the CRM software does not make decisions about whether a player has a gambling problem. Rather, it delivers data to human beings that they can use to take action if needed.
“Regulators have requirements that need to be monitored no matter what type of player you are, and our solution supports that in an automated way,” Inbar stated. “Also, our model explores as many views of problematic behavior as possible, such as which players spend long hours playing and when, mostly at night or during the day, etc. Are they chasing losses, i.e., making a deposit every time they lose their money? How fast are they burning their balance away? This way, we can identify different types of problematic activity and flag specific activities or create a “risk score” that factors all data points together.”
The result of integrating this data into intervention plans is that online gambling companies are seeing less behavior that could be problematic. Inbar shared that one of Optimove’s clients “measured a drop of 35% in the average risk score of their active players base.”
With AI promoting responsible gambling hopefully becoming more commonplace, the use of technology to promote responsible gambling can reach the same level as the technology-enabled gaming activity.
Modernizing RG software
One of the obstacles in the regulated online gaming industry is that while the technology powering casino apps is firmly in 2023, the regulations governing online gambling are stuck in 1923. To some degree, the deployment of technology to promote responsible gambling has also been outdated. Inbar has experienced that firsthand.
“Before we decided how we were going to create our modeling product, we did research on what was available at the time,” Inbar commented. “We were surprised to see the majority out there still uses methods like self-assessment questionnaires, as if someone can answer those in an unbiased way. So, we wanted to create something that looks at what players are actually doing and not what they say they’re doing.”
“Using data analytics, it’s easy to design behavioral layers that the business and the regulator define as problematic and make this view accessible to the marketers that need to control the communications with the players. In many scoping calls with clients, we heard that this is the direction they are looking for, and we also see now that regulators start to demand similar things.”
Problem gambling will always be a problem. Providing solutions requires employing all available tools like AI. How successful these interventions will be for people who are at risk of developing an issue still depends on how committed gaming companies are to following through on the insights that AI delivers.