AI and the human element: EPIC’s Dan Spencer on ‘obvious’ Mindway partnership

It seems like all tech specialists with a stake in gaming are talking about AI right now, and EPIC Risk Management believes that this interest is more than justified. 

The gambling harm minimisation consultancy group recently signed a major partnership with Mindway AI, focused around supporting and delivering its educational and training resources as well as identifying and interacting with problem gamblers.

Reflecting on the reasons for the partnership, its core objectives and, most importantly, what AI can do for operators and the industry as a whole, EPIC’s Director of Safer Gambling Dan Spencer spoke to SBC News to mark Safer Gambling Week.

Why Mindway?

“What really impressed me about Mindway’s technology is the amount of data and power it gives back to the operator, to not only identify the trigger points of when you should interact with a player but also why. Dan Spencer, EPIC

“The markers that they use and the richness of the data will give analysis for operators a really rounded picture as to what is happening for this customer.”

For both EPIC and Mindway, Spencer explained, there was a ‘clear cross-over’ with regards to both existing partnerships and future objectives.

The two groups have identified a need to address two ‘crucial touchpoints’, from the perspective of gaming operators, in enhancing player protection.

These touchpoints, the Director continued, are identifying when the right time for an interaction is – based on AI insights into player behaviour – and then the interaction itself.

Where is the partnership heading?

As detailed above, EPIC and Mindway have an ‘overlap’ with regards to existing partners, whilst the firms also have a history of working together – as Spencer put it, ‘this is not a partnership that came around very quickly’.

He continued: “We can see several areas of overlap where we can help each other. The first step on that roadmap is to learn a lot more about each other’s business.” 

EPIC will provide free consultancy and training to Mindway to help the group with its ‘RG journey’, meanwhile Mindway will provide training to EPIC on the use of AI, bolstering the group’s existing educational offering.

Further developments will include a training course to ‘educate those working in the area of identification’, delivering EPIC’s Risk Assessment programme based on the Mindway user interface.

“We can put lived experience context behind that data, because it’s one thing to see the rich data that Mindway provides you, but to provide that lens of the mindset of a problem gambler and put a focus group together very quickly is a real strength of ours.”

Lastly, Spencer detailed that EPIC has several mutual partners with Mindway, and so the duo envision a smoother and slicker process coming about for these firms as a result of the collaboration. 

The bridge between AI and the human factor

From Spencer’s conversation with SBC News, it is clear that EPIC envisions a clear role for AI in the future of player protection, with obvious benefits for both operators and customers.

In the aftermath of a series of major penalties against operators for social responsibility failings, Spencer observed that operators can avoid breaches via the use of AI.

“But automated systems need to be used, and identification is such a big task. When you look back at sanctions or penalties given to operators in the past two years, they’ve mainly come about because a customer was not identified at the right stage, or they were identified and then not interacted with. 

“That’s why I say these are the two big touch points here. If you’ve got an automated system you’ve got another line of defence, and it can often be cheaper too.”

However, AI is not the be all and end all of safer gambling interactions, and the second touch point referred to by Spencer – the main interaction itself – still requires a human touch.

“It needs to be a human to human conversation, where a player releases the damage that their behaviour could do in the future, and empowers the player and gives them the tools to make the right decisions at that point,” he explained.

“But of course, when you’re dealing with data and specifically AI data, on the backend of that you can make choices that the player might not necessarily know about. 

“When you have such rich data on the behaviour of your players, there’s no end to what you might do in the back office to slightly enhance the experience in a safer way.”

SBC News AI and the human element: EPIC’s Dan Spencer on ‘obvious’ Mindway partnership

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