Can AI help casinos reduce problem gambling?

Since its start in 2018, Mindway has outsourced its services to seven Danish operators, two in Germany and the Netherlands, a global operator and a US sports betting operator, Kjærgaard said. Online gaming giants Flutter Entertainment and Entain have also partnered with Mindway, according to the companies’ annual reports.

Since this technology is so new and there is no regulatory body setting a standard, Mindway and similar companies are, for now, essentially on their own. “We wanted to be able to tell you, anyone else – the operators, obviously – that not only are we providing this science-based software, but we also want a third party to test the validation of what we do,” said Mr. Kjærgaard. “But it’s a paradox that there are no specific requirements that I can ask my team to meet.”

Currently, Mindway’s technology resides primarily in online gambling. Operators attach Mindway’s GameScanner system to their portal, and it scans not just individual risks, but total system risks. Applying this level of oversight to in-person gaming is much more difficult.

An example of measuring success can be found in Macao. Casino operators use hidden cameras and facial recognition technology to track players’ betting behavior, as well as poker chips with radio frequency identification technology and sensors on baccarat tables. This data is then directed to a central database where a player’s performance is tracked and monitored for collusion between players.

This, said Mr. Kjærgaard, is the future: financial incentives will drive success. “Smart tables” and efforts to combat money laundering and financial regulations could eventually provide the data that will power the application of AI to in-person gambling.

(It also highlights another difficulty in applying AI to gambling: cultural differences. In Chinese casinos, Ms. Abarbanel said, players are used to this level of surveillance; it’s not the case in the United States.)

AI would certainly work for casinos when it comes to marketing, promotions and game suggestions, Feldman said, but despite advances in recent years, he remains skeptical of its use in helping problem gamblers. Applying such a tool can be best used personally rather than broadly, he thinks, much like the “Your expenses are 25% higher than last month” reminders that pop up in online bank accounts.

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