With the noticeable rise in gambling-related addictions and mental disorders across the United Kingdom, new breakthroughs in AI, or ‘Artificial Intelligence’, could be set to make a real impact in tackling these ever-growing issues.
As we advance in technology and Artificial Intelligence becomes more prevalent in a variety of industries and social contexts, it becomes less surprising to see the effects and/or benefits of AI applications. The new technology, which will be implemented throughout the gambling sector, is set to help gamblers “cool off”, thereby helping to avoid the many issues associated with problem or reckless gambling.
As the new AI-driven technology rolls out across all betting shops in the UK, we found out a bit more about how the new technology will work.
The BGC, or Betting and Gambling Council, launched the high-tech AI-driven Anonymous Player Awareness System (APAS) last month, in a bid to turn the tide on reckless and irresponsible gambling habits. The BGC, which is an industry group that represents around 90% of the entire UK sports betting and online gambling sectors, believes it will. However, many industry and gambling experts believe that the current version, which locks the gambling machine for up to 30 seconds, simply won’t be enough of a cooling off time frame.
Essentially, the AI APAS system runs sophisticated analysis of player behaviour patterns during play in order to detect whether or not players are engaging in ‘chasing losses’, too much time spent on the same gambling machine, erratic behaviour or playing games in rapid succession. Once this data has been gathered and analysed, the AI then decided whether or not to lock the machine, preventing any action at all on the machine (including drawing winnings), for a period of 30 seconds.
The idea here is to give the gambler enough time to “cool off” or calm down long enough to come to their senses and stop playing, or reduced their spending. During the lockout period, the machine will also display messages relating to responsible gaming and warnings regarding the consequences of irresponsible gambling.
According to the BGC, every single betting shop throughout the UK will receive the new AI software. This means that every machine will now be able to detect problem gambling behaviour in good time and, based on its programming, prevent negative effects and associated problems from developing.
The software is being installed in betting shops belonging to all major betting brands across the board. In fact, a spokesperson from Betfred has stated that the software is already in 1600 of their shops across the country. Ladbrokes and Coral report that the software is now operational across all 3200 of their shops and William Hill report similar statistics.
However, despite the rapid and widespread installation of the gambling behaviour software, many industry experts are concerned that the actual lock out period is simply not long enough to be truly effective. Others believe that, since it is driven by artificial intelligence, longer cooling off periods would be easy to adjust.
In addition to the AI APAS software being installed in every machine across the UK, additional software links each machine to terminals operated by betting shop staff. The software alerts members of staff as soon as a cooling off period is initiated on any given machine.
According to a BGC spokesperson, once the cooling off period has been triggered and staff alerted, they will then be able to come out and check up on the player to make sure that they are alright. They will then also have the opportunity to discuss problem gambling issues with the player and assess if any further intervention is required.
Nottingham Trent University professor of behavioural addiction, Professor Mark Griffiths said, when asked: "This is a step in the right direction but obviously needs to be monitored and evaluated." However, he too reiterated the opinions of other experts by saying: "The mandatory break is probably not long enough to have a positive effect."
While the new implementation is still in its early stages, it is impossible to tell what the long term effects will be.