We live in a world of dramatic changes, from climate to technology, to
food supply, to space exploration. While many of us try to navigate disruption
and embrace a doctrine of life-long learning, technology has been pushing its
way into every aspect of our life. And so, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has
actually made it to the casino parlors, both online and offline.
Today, casinos deploy complex algorithms to manage anything from
security to the fairness of their games. In Macau, casinos have banned off-duty
workers from entering the casino floor, but all properties use video
surveillance and facial recognition to enforce the rule. AI is not just some
oppressive tech that is designed to usher in a dystopia, though, and the
benefits for both consumers and business are significant.
Featurespace is just one of the cutting-edge technologies promising to
look at the underbelly of gambling industry and help it clear its act. The
company even started as a consultancy designed to catch ‘fraud’ perpetrated by
casino players, but Featurespace soon realized that it would do people much
good if it simply focused on helping identify erratic gaming behavior.
Besides, there is an actual business case for tackling gambling addiction.
While players and people critical of the gambling business equate gaming
establishments to vulture preying on the week, tough regulation has curbed any
Casinos are subject to heavy taxes that bite into the bottom line, and
hence, the push to deploy artificial intelligence to tackle addiction ills has
been intensifying. AI is hardly constrained to online venues, however.
Fighting back against gambling addiction is already taking off in places
such as the United Kingdom. The Anonymous Player Awareness System (APAS) has pushed for a software installed directly
on gaming machines in gaming shops owned by popular brands, such as
William Hill, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power.
And to make sure the measures actually work out in favor of players,
APAS has encouraged training of human staff who can read AI cues and assist in
cases where players are clearly overspending or exhibiting other erratic
Big AI Watches: The Fine Line Between Security and Surveillance
While AI can be immensely helpful in identifying individuals on the cusp
of spending above their means, or even sliding into gambling addiction, the
technology has its dark side. Of course, you can always argue that AI is a tool
– and that it is, but in places like China, facial recognition can be used to spot
people prone to losing a lot.
To put simply, this is terrifying for at least several reasons. First,
it’s a blatant invasion of our privacy. To make things worse, it exploits a
known weakness, which could have potentially life-long consequences, and to top
it all off – the practice is deeply unethical.
Yet, there is a silver lining. While a few opportunistic casinos will
surely try to prey on the weak while regulators are still playing catch-up, the
technology to read addiction in one’s eyes, as it were, would help prevent a
lot of cases.
It can be argued that facial recognition powered by AI would ultimately
work better than analyzing gambling patterns. Put another way, the solutions
proposed by APAS and Featurespace rely on players turning a loss to spot the
Facial recognition is not constrained by any of that. The software could
look at you and size you up quicker than any gambling counsel could. Yet, just
like in the case of APAS, humans will still play a crucial role in providing
assistance and helping individuals push past a state of addiction.
You see, machines can crunch numbers and reduce big data to practical
solutions. Yet, algorithms struggle to quantify emotions and emotional
intelligence, even though they can use changes in your bodily temperature,
perspiration and blood pressure to determine whether you are more likely to give in
to emotion and use a small fortune at the baccarat tables.
Enter facial recognition, as it is. Extrapolating from hunting down
rogue employees to spotting individuals who pose danger to the casino and its
patrons. Locating rowdy customers or people who damage casino property could
save everyone a lot of trouble.
But far more importantly, individuals who have been showing signs of
addiction can be assisted on the spot. Of course, it would ultimately up to the
casinos if they want to guide risk-prone gamblers out of the casino facilities
or at least to a part of the casino where the potential for a life-destroying
loss is limited.
Casinos too are facing an ethical dilemma. On the one hand, the
advancement in technology such as AI allows them to create reliable prediction
patterns – about your behavior and propensity for spending.
Yet, acting on this information could be seen as unethical as it
basically exploits a known human deficiency to cajole a player into playing.
With AI advancing in the gambling industry, the argument that “it was a
player’s decision to act a certain way” seems to no longer hold any water.
If a casino knows for a fact a patron is going to respond in a certain
way given specific stimuli, then how can companies use AI to help them make
ethical business decisions?
Perhaps in the future an AI will be assigned to making these decisions for us.
Kevin was raised on sports since a young teen and following a (fortunate) injury pursued new hobbies in table games such as Blackjack and Poker. Since 2009 Kevin has been writing for casino sites for various big names in the industry and CasinoSites.us is but one of his latest passion projects.