Better Collective kicked off 2021 with the exciting news that it had purchased a further 70% of shares in problem gambling detection specialist Mindway AI – a deal which the sports betting media group says will form a key part of its strategy to ‘make betting safer’.
In this month’s Better Collective Spotlight, we sat down with Mindway AI’s CEO Rasmus Kjærgaard (pictured above), Founder and CSO Professor Kim Mouridsen and Better Collective’s Head of IR and CSR, Christina Bastius Thomsen, to find out more about the science behind problem gambling, the best solutions to drive safer gambling standards and why delivering the safest gambling environment is the only way for the industry to remain sustainable in the long-term.
SBC: How can Better Collective drive the Mindway AI mission to make gambling safer?
CBT: Better Collective will, through our industry network and organisational setup, support Mindway AI to further expand the footprint of their solutions globally. We believe Mindway AI’s solutions, GameScanner, Gamalyze and GameChanger technologies and approach to problem and at-risk gambling identification, prevention and intervention are best in class and that the solutions overall will support creating safer customer journeys.
SBC: Neuroscience forms a key part of Mindway AI’s solutions in tackling problem gambling. Can you tell us a little bit about the science behind this – how does the human brain differ for a problem gambler compared to someone who isn’t affected by it?
KM: There are some findings typically associated with problem gambling. They relate to areas in the brain involved in impulse control and reward processing. There may be differences in levels of the so-called neurotransmitter, dopamine, as well as variation in the connectivity between deep brain regions responsible for impulses and decision-making areas located in the frontal part of the brain.
Interestingly, we fortunately do not need to perform brain imaging to assess risk-taking behaviour, we can even use simple, standardized games to get a detailed understanding of the sustainability of particular gambling styles.
SBC: How can combining artificial intelligence with ‘the human touch’ help Mindway AI to reach out to and support its customers?
KM: In principle we would like expert psychologists to be always available and on call to determine if particular individuals are developing addiction. But the data-streams are obviously much too large, and we therefore need to combine the human expertise with artificial intelligence to scale this approach.
By observing human psychologist evaluation of digital gambling trajectories, the AI over time learns to perform similar, complex evaluations. But compared to humans, AI can process thousands of customers in seconds, and does not get tired, inattentive, or biased.
The benefit for customers is that the AI learns to ‘express’ concerns much like the human psychologists, providing operators and end-users with tangible reasons for the reported risk level, promoting more intelligent dialogues with end-users and translating into individualized recommendations for avoiding escalation of problems.
SBC: With advances in artificial intelligence technology, do you think we’ll see more industry operators integrate solutions such as Mindway AI’s GameScanner, Gamalyze and GameChanger to improve safer gambling standards?
RK: We are definitely experiencing increased interest in our solutions and our approach that is based on artificial intelligence and neuroscience. One of the main drivers is the regulatory demands, but operators are also very aware of their reputation and their image towards existing and future employees.
Apart from that, keeping customers in a sustainable way makes for a good business case. Last but not least, the growing interest also owes to Mindway AI being a 100% RG dedicated solution provider, knowledge centre and objective third party. Even though we are very busy with customer dialogues and implementing and delivering solutions, we can definitely find the time for new dialogues.
SBC: How important is it to get ahead of the curve in terms of safer gambling as key jurisdictions prepare tighter measures?
CBT: Responsible gambling is a strategic focus area for Better Collective’s sustainability work and overall business strategy. We see a clear trend from a broad group of key stakeholders globally, e.g. regulators, investors, wider public, that industry actors should take a greater responsibility to ensure players get a safe entertainment experience when they bet.
In that regard, we invest to be at the forefront of the development, as we believe securing a safe gambling environment is the only way for the industry to be sustainable long-term.
SBC: Does Mindway AI have a part in problem gambling detection within the existing Better Collective network? Or is this more about Better collective supporting it as a standalone business for external operators?
CBT: Mindway AI will continue to operate as a stand-alone business within the Better Collective Group. So nothing will change in regards to how Mindway AI, through their solutions, has worked and will continue to work with customers.
The solutions will continue to be used by external operators and other actors that decide to collaborate with Mindway AI to create a safer gambling environment for the players.
RK: I am excited that Mindway AI has joined the Better Collective Group, an organisation that shares our purpose and values and has a genuine wish to create a safe and sustainable betting and gambling environment for players worldwide.
With this investment, we now form closer ties to an organisation that has the industry network and muscles to further accelerate the development of our business.
I look forward to continuing our 100% focus on Responsible Gambling solutions and knowledge as a stand-alone business within the BC Group, and to continuing the strong growth journey Mindway AI has been on and to further expand our footprint globally.