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IN-DEPTH 30 October 2017
Why digital assistance will dominate
Bartolo Esposito, CEO, Sirplay sets out how the use of AI is already revolutionising the online sports betting world
By Gambling Insider

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the study of intelligent agents exhibited by machines. That is any device perceiving its environment and imitating cognitive human functions - such as learning and problem-solving - taking actions that maximise its chance of success at some goal.

The concept of Artificial Intelligence is extensively used in various spheres of modern life, especially those related to computer and Internet technologies, even if people don't perceive its impact. Nowadays, AI applies to almost everything; one need only think of search engines (such as Google search), online assistants (such as Siri), image recognition in photographs, spam filtering or targeting online advertisements to understand how much AI is already in our lives.

Taking into consideration an industry like the sports betting one, built on probabilities, odds and statistics, with an inherent link with mathematics, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the application of Artificial Intelligence is on the rise in the sector. Indeed, AI is based on mathematical algorithms, and online gambling provides the ideal environment as it generates a significant amount of data that can be analysed.

Before entering into the benefits these systems have brought and will keep bringing to the gambling industry, it is necessary to distinguish between two types of AI: the first one “more static”, based on a semiotic approach; and the second one based on a biological approach, like a natural evolutionary algorithm.

Getting to the point, how can AI be applied and help the gambling industry, in real terms? There are several potential benefits to the application of AI in the field of gambling.

PROFILING AND PREDICTING PLAYERS’ ACTIONS IN ORDER TO RETAIN THEM

Taking into consideration their behaviours and preferences, their playing tactics and betting habits, AI is able to predict how gamblers may choose to wager. This means, a true understanding of players’ thinking and, as a consequence, the chance to create customised loyalty programmes.

HAVING AT YOUR DISPOSAL THE PERFECT MARKETING TOOL

The high degree of profiling allows you to automatically provide customised marketing campaigns with offers directed to a specific group of players with similar behaviours using the most appropriate triggers in each situation.

PREVENTING GAMBLING ADDICTION

Lawmakers are continuously introducing different legal restrictions on gambling activities. AI systems can alert the operator to players at risk, who can then decide to block problematic users or apply some limitations to them.

CREATING BETTER VIRTUAL DEALERS

AI allows you to design virtual dealers with more realistic human features and a higher capability to interact with players.

USING IT AS AN ADVANCED ANTI-FRAUD SYSTEM

Thanks to its algorithms, an AI system can recognise fraudulent bets and accounts from observing multiple factors, and can automatically block potentially dangerous bets that could result in a negative outcome for the operator, guaranteeing a totally secure management process.

Analysing all of these benefits, it’s easy to understand how powerful AI could be in the gambling industry, leading to an improvement in engagement and retention, and therefore revenue, per player. Sirplay has started using its mathematical algorithms to set limitations on dangerous bets so that none of its customers results have a negative outcome. Besides, the company operates mostly in the emerging markets, where static AI helps people investing on a betting platform for the first time to manage it without having an extensive knowledge of the industry and its dangers.

Watching this scenario, the future of the human sportsbook trader figure naturally comes into question. In fact, it is potentially possible to run a platform through a single person alone. The sportsbook trader manages which bet to accept at which odd, which player could be problematic and which may not. Let’s imagine his job in the internet era we live in, with the continuous flow of bets and games there are, it would be literally impossible to manage a betting shop without this technological help.

This means that it is now almost unthinkable not to use an AI system, or at least a list of automated mathematical algorithms to manage all the transactions made on an online platform. But this doesn’t mean humans are superfluous. Indeed, a static AI system needs upgrades and supervision and many decisions in grey areas need to be taken by an experienced sportsbook trader that, with his knowledge, can decide which strategies to apply.

Considering this, we can suggest that the sportsbook trader figure will never disappear, instead, it will probably become a statistical engineering expert that will generate or refine or manage AI algorithms, modifying them depending on the positive or negative feedbacks he observes. And the most impressive consideration is that it’s very probable that all this is already happening, even if we don’t have the capability to see the bigger picture. We work every day with AI systems but we can’t sense it: the future is already here.
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Mexico: Bringing order out of chaos
Industry experts believe it isn’t a matter of if but when Mexico’s fundamental legislatory revamp will come to pass. However, after years of pushbacks and delays, it’s understandable to question why the situation has yet to been addressed. We looks at whether or not this fluid situation will crystallise into a solid platform for growth
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