Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the fastest-growing areas of tech, and it’s quickly disseminated across all industries – iGaming is no different. The gambling industry has used AI in varying ways for quite some time, but recent developments mean the technological capabilities of AI have rapidly expanded, and it’s now able to provide more sophisticated solutions and applications for gambling brands that are argued by many to improve the user experience and online security for players.
Improved User Experience
Customer Service and AI Chatbots
One of the most applicable areas of AI in iGaming is customer service, especially the use of chatbots. Chatbots are widely accepted to improve the user experience through reduced waiting times for assistance, facilitating easy access to information, and reducing players’ cognitive load (players need to process less information to find what they are looking for).
Early-generation chatbots were used to screen simple consumer queries from more complex ones, freeing customer service agents to focus on the latter and leaving more straightforward questions to be addressed by the chatbot, which usually referred the player to the correct help article, answer, or page. With the advent of GPT models, chatbots are now performing more complex tasks and are being implemented more widely. For example, some iGaming affiliates are already adapting GTP tech to create adept casino chatbots that work more like personal assistants (answering questions directly, conversing with the player in a human-like manner, and making suggestions based on past interactions and player preferences) rather than only directing players to the appropriate resources.
The quality and accuracy of customer support have therefore improved, alongside the ease of access to information (rather than searching and reading pages of content, or casino reviews, consumers can ask the chatbot). This can improve the user experience while enriching it and making support frictionless. Moreover, the development of natural language understanding, intelligent prompting and human-like responses put consumers at ease, ultimately creating a more engaging and supportive gambling environment.
Tailored Product Suggestions Based on Machine Learning
AI uses machine learning and quickly analyses vast amounts of information, improving the user experience through better access to information and recommendations. AI can analyse consumer game history data to create personalised content, suggesting the best online slots to suit each customer. This also applies to identifying and targeting certain bet types, sports, bonuses, game features and themes and so on. By knowing so much about each player, their online preferences and actions, gambling sites can provide a targeted, personalised and more fulfilling gambling experience.
AI is particularly helpful for the accuracy of sports betting. While humans are very good at on-the-spot analysis based on the gameplay in front of them, they cannot match the capabilities of AI, which can process much larger volumes of information and apply historical context and stats (Flavien Guillocheau, CEO of French Esports start-up, PandaScore, detailed that the company created 300+ data points for every half-second of League of Legends gameplay using AI with an accuracy rate of 99+%).
For example, through real-time analysis of different football players’ velocities and trajectories, AI can predict when players will go offside or when they are attacking. Access to this information is instrumental for sportsbooks in listing and creating odds and for players in deciding what bets to place, while simultaneously enhancing the betting experience for consumers.
As well as collecting and processing data to enhance the player experience by providing personalised game, bonus, bet, and site recommendations, AI also analyses data on players’ account actions, like deposits, playing preferences, and spending habits. Operators can use this data to identify gambling harms more accurately on a consumer-by-consumer basis, as operators can compare actions with a player’s typical behaviour and automatically flag unusual activity or spending habits, which could suggest they are chasing losses or gambling irresponsibly.
One of the most significant issues with problem gambling is that strategies to combat it largely depend on players recognising harmful behaviours and implementing self-restrictive measures, like a deposit limit or self-exclusion. Often the recognition of damage takes place too late or due to the nature of addiction, the consumer is unable to self regulate. Operators are also duty-bound to protect players, monitoring their accounts for signs of gambling harm and intervening if they see evidence or suggestion of harm.
Traditional methods of operators flagging player behaviours were based on the modelling of other players who had self-excluded, not personalised information. Hence, through the enhanced access and analysis of personal play data, AI can create a safer gambling environment for players and flag unusual activity based on past player actions, rather than industry-wide benchmarks. AI can also be implemented further, offering automated support messages or personalised suggestions for appropriate measures and safer gambling tools.
In the same way that the improved data processing capability enables operators to detect unusual behaviour that could indicate gambling harms, it can also be used to detect fraud or suspicious activity. Last year in the USA, both BetMGM and DraftKings were hacked on a considerable scale. In the case of DraftKings, the hackers used the account information to deposit player funds into casino accounts and then withdraw it to different sources. AI is instrumental in flagging this type of suspicious account behaviour, meaning operators can intervene more quickly, limiting the amount of damage.
AI in iGaming: Safety and Ethical Issues
“Big Data is being cynically exploited by the gambling industry to target vulnerable consumers. So the Gambling Commission’s trust in operators to use customer data for social responsibility purposes is naive at best.”
A spokesperson for the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, published in The Guardian.
In discussing the benefits of AI, there is another side of the argument we haven’t touched on: the ethical and safety concerns the use of AI and big data in gambling creates. There’s no question that AI is improving the user experience and online security features of online gambling.
Still, there are also safety and ethical issues in allowing profit-driven businesses to collect and use this information. We trust it will be used for good purposes, like identifying gambling harms, rather than targeting players and encouraging them to spend more. This concern has led many to argue that AI use in online casinos needs to be regulated.
“The industry is using AI to profile customers and predict their behaviour in frightening new ways. Every click is scrutinised in order to optimise profit, not to enhance a user’s experience. I’ve often heard people wonder about how they are targeted so accurately and it’s no wonder because it’s all hidden in the small print.”
Asif, a digital marketer who previously worked in iGaming, published in The Guardian.
Regulators cannot ignore that we are enabling the same gambling companies, many of which have repeatedly failed to protect players (evidenced by the long list of Gambling Commission fines for licensee-holders) with unprecedented access to player data which can be misused.
Therefore, while AI holds enormous potential to improve user experience and security in online gambling, it will only do so when employed responsibly by gambling operators. Achieving this will require new forms of data protection and regulation, which is also problematic, as tech regularly outpaces regulatory reform.