Artificial Intelligence is Here. What Does It Mean for Problem Gambling?
Published: May 22, 2023
With the unveiling of artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots from tech giants like Microsoft and Google, the era of AI has arrived. After being theorized about for decades, the science fiction future is becoming less and less fictional, and in the coming years AI technologies will begin to be used in many industries, including gambling and gaming.
The impact of AI could be felt in a wide variety of ways. AI-powered sports betting apps could be used to offer someone increasingly personalized sports bets for their favorite teams. And in the responsible gambling space, some operators are already experimenting with AI-driven systems that can measure when someone might be exhibiting signs of a gambling problem.
One company that the New York Times spoke to, Mindway AI, has developed an AI system that can track gamblers as they play and evaluate when they might be straying into risky territory. The system, which has been vetted by psychologists, tracks 14 different risk signs.
As the gambler plays, Mindway’s AI system gives them a color-coded score that shows how at risk they are for a problem. Green means they are playing responsibly, yellow means they are at some risk, and red means they should stop playing the game immediately. “As soon as a player profile or player behavior goes from green to yellow and to the other steps as well, we are able to do something about it,” said Rasmus Kjærgaard, the company’s CEO.
Mindway has deployed its AI system in casinos and sportsbooks in Europe, and AI-driven changes are underway in the United States as well. AI machine learning systems could be used to set odds in sportsbooks. And several gaming operators have explored whether AI could be used to create more games that are personalized for an individual gambler’s tastes, offer customized marketing based on someone’s play profile, and encourage responsible play.
But industry-friendly uses for AI are likely only the start. AI is not yet regulated in any significant way, and nefarious systems could also be developed that exploit the existing gambling infrastructure. Indeed, in 2018 several researchers from Stanford University created an AI neural network that tried to game the system by predicting the over-under outcome of basketball games, and then placed bets on those games.
Interestingly, the AI network wasn’t much better at placing winning bets than humans. Its bets beat the house only 51.5 percent of the time because, as the researchers put it, NBA games were “high-variance” events that are inherently unpredictable. In other words, the game is influenced by such a huge number of immeasurable factors — like roster composition, shoe choices, player confidence, floor slipperiness, referee calls, and crowd noise levels — that its outcome is basically random. Even for the smartest AI systems in the world, there is no such thing as a “sure bet.”
That’s why taking the time to recognize that every bet comes with risk, setting limits on your play, and asking yourself if it’s time to stop are so important. Before You Bet offers a wide variety of resources to help people play responsibly, gauge their risk level for problem gambling, and get help if they need it. And if you or someone you know has questions about your gambling habits, do not hesitate to call the free and confidential, 24/7 Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-589-9966 or text 4HOPE to 741741.