Kim Mouridsen: Combatting problem gambling with automated player profiling

Kim Mouridsen, Professor and Founder of Mindway AI, explains how they are using scientifically based automated player profiling and monitoring to combat problem gambling and better understand player behaviours.

SBC: Identifying problem gambling behaviour is getting easier with technology, but how can that translate to effective outreach to customers who may not want to accept that?

KM: Problem gambling is a condition that often is accompanied by a lot of shame and embarrassment which makes it a very sensitive topic to talk to customers about. Instead of using a generic approach to all problem gamblers, artificial intelligence makes it possible to tailor the communication to every single customer by revealing insight into and correlations between many different aspects of their gambling.

Our experience is that reaching out to customers with a tailored approach is very well received. When customers recognise themselves in what is being said, they feel understood and the dialogue can become fruitful and an opening to finding a solution to improve their situation.

SBC: How can artificial intelligence help combat problem gambling?  

KM: Artificial intelligence can do something we as humans cannot do. AI has the great potential of crunching tremendous amounts of data in a very short period of time 24-7-365. It works incessantly. This means that we can get insight into gambling behaviour and detect developing gambling problems before they get totally out of hand. 

The real challenge is to know what we should be looking for and how to get this information out of the data. This takes a thorough understanding of problem gambling which we at Mindway AI have accumulated throughout the past 10 years by researching the neuroscience and psychology of problem gambling. 

However, understanding the mechanisms of problem gambling is only the first step. The next and crucial step is to convert this knowledge into an algorithm that can apply the neuroscientific and psychological insights in its calculations and analyses and then transform its results into explanations and understandable reasons for its findings.

SBCHow do you believe operators could improve their understanding of player finances, accounting patterns and activities?

KM: With all the data operators have available about their customers, it is only a matter of finding the right algorithm and training it to get insight into player finances, accounting patterns and activities. Artificial intelligence is able to track deposits and withdrawals and changes in the patterns that are normal for a certain customer. So any changes will be detected. 

The same goes for gambling patterns. If a customer changes the frequency or time spent gambling, the games played, the wagers and so on this can also be detected by artificial intelligence. 

SBC: What more could the industry be doing as a whole to better protect customers?

KM: The first and most important step is earlier detection of at risk and problem gambling by keeping a close eye on gamblers. The next step is applying more resources to effective and subtle intervention. The brain can be trained to withstand the impulse to gamble by playing games that train a healthy reaction to gambling clues. This doesn’t mean that a gambler loses interest in gambling, but that the gambler gambles out of fun and not an uncontrollable urge. 

Games like these should be made more widely available because operators naturally want to keep their customers and their customers naturally want to have fun gambling. But when things get out of hand, training the brain to get back on track may be the answer instead of completely quitting gambling.

SBC: A number of calls have been recently regarding further potential limits and bans to online gambling, what steps do you believe need to be made in the near future?

KM: In my opinion, monitoring and profiling customers is key to having a gambling industry that offers fun and excitement to gamblers, but without the hazards that 1-2% of gamblers experience when they develop problem gambling. Steps to protect gamblers from harm are indisputably crucial – the only question is who takes these steps. 

My assumption is that the more proactive operators are, the more leeway regulators will give operators. However, as long as regulators find operators’ initiatives insufficient, stricter legislation and further limits will be on the agenda.

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