AI Being Used to Predict Gambling Behavior and Boost RevenueMay 5, 2018 10:15 am
It’s long been known that gambling operators use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve their systems and provide their customers with a better playing experience. Recently, however, a number of gambling insiders have shed some rather disturbing light on the practice by suggesting that AI is also being used to personalize promotions and manipulate gamblers into spending more money at their respective online gambling sites.
One of the whistleblowers coming forward is Asif, a former employee at a gambling company, who said that the reason people are targeted so accurately by gambling companies is “all hidden in the small print.” As he then explains:
“The industry is using AI to profile customers and predict their behavior in frightening new ways. Every click is scrutinized in order to optimize profit, not to enhance a user’s experience.”
Last year, industry insiders revealed that gambling operators were using third-party data to target potential consumers with personalized ads. In August 2017, for instance, one source asserted that some raffle companies had been collecting personal data from users joining their raffles before then selling on the information to the gambling industry.
Gambling operators would usually buy the information in the form of e-mail lists containing thousands of names, together with their birthdates, e-mail addresses, and even phone numbers. Furthermore, most people would have unwittingly given their permission to use the data they provided by consenting to the consent clause buried within the company’s lengthy terms and conditions.
“You can buy email lists with more than 100,000 people’s emails and phone numbers from data warehouses who regularly sell data to help market gambling promotions,” explained a source called Brian. “They say it’s all opted in but people haven’t opted in at all.”
Combined with their own consumer behavior data, these companies then put together individual customer profiles detailing such information as their interests, earnings, and credit history. Gambling companies and advertisers are subsequently able to create bespoke adverts based upon consumer behavior, which are pushed through platforms such as Google, and Facebook.
Problem Gamblers At Risk
According to whistleblowers, these bespoke ads have been most effective in targeting a range of vulnerable consumers, including problem gamblers, people who have recently stopped gambling, and those heavily in debt. Amongst the hooks used to attract this group of players to their gambling sites are the promise of free tokens, high returns on their money, and the potential to hit a jackpot that might help to get their life back on track.
One politician that has been campaigning for gambling reform for several years now is Labour MP Carolyn Harris, who commenting upon the latest findings said that she never ceased to be amazed at just how far the gambling industry is prepared to go in order to exploit people who have shown some past interest in gambling. Not mincing her words, Harris commented:
“The industry is geared to get people addicted to something that will cause immense harm, not just to society but to individuals and their families. They are parasitical leeches and I will offer no apology for saying that.”
Data Legislation Lagging Behind Technology
The Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal provides a recent example of the increasing use of personal data for “inappropriate” purposes, with the political consulting firm having collected information on more than 87 million Facebook users in an attempt to influence the opinion of voters.
The latest cases involving gambling companies further highlights the widening gap between laws governing the collection of data and the technology being used by the industry itself. In fact, gambling operators are often audited to ensure they adhere to strict regulations on advertisements, but with no such oversight on data collection in place. As a Campaign for Fairer Gambling spokesperson explains:
“Big Data is being cynically exploited by the gambling industry to target vulnerable consumers. So the [UK] Gambling Commission’s trust in operators to use customer data for social responsibility purposes is naïve at best.”