For as long as we have been able to gamble, we have looked for better ways to do it. Beating the odds, inventing new games, learning “the system” which will guarantee results, and finding new ways to enjoy gaming experience has been almost as vital a part of the online gaming experience as actually playing the games. With online gaming now an integral part of the gaming world, and with brand new casinos online NZ and abroad appearing every week, the next must-do of the gaming community is what to do with the growing demand for AI (artificial intelligence). How will artificial intelligence change the online gaming sphere, and will it improve it?
Constant change, growth, and incorporating innovative technology is a cornerstone of the online gaming industry. So it’s not surprising that AI – where computers take over human functions – is being seen as a way forward for online casinos. The point of online gaming is that players log in via a computer into the casino’s platform – a virtual room from which accounts can be created, payments made, games played, and winnings collated. Any of these tasks can be performed or assisted with the help of an AI bot.
Casinos already use AI in the form of chatbots to act as a link between the customer and the casino. These chatbots provide limited automated services such as creating new accounts, transferring money, and answering some basic customer enquiries. Live game dealers may also be replaced with AI dealers. This may cause some disquiet amongst players who prefer the human element that a live dealer brings to the game. Live dealers can sense the feel of the table, learn the habits of players, and even have an idea when a player may have overextended or is drifting into obsessive or dangerous gaming habits. But then, AI can do this also. Poker bots have already played – and won – tournaments against human players. Bots can follow player habits and model play and bets based on what they can assess the strengths and weaknesses of the gamer.
We are already used to being able to do most things online. In fact, if a business of any sort doesn’t have a website, it’s hardly likely to stay in business for long. When we check out any business online, the data collected on us as potential or actual customers is of immense value to that business. They can track who is clicking on what parts of the site, what bonus offers are of interest, and what goods are trending. For those who have created an account, the business can match the information gathered from these clicks to the information provided by the customer’s profile – age, demographics, spending habits, and other useful data which can then be used to bring specific products to the customers’ attention. This form of targeted marketing is just as important to the online casino industry. If a game is popular within a certain demographic, it’s likely that when a new customer from that demographic visits the website, he or she will receive messages and invitations which are specific to what customer analysis shows is of interest to that demographic.
Apart from more accurate targeting of customer messages, AI provides a valuable resource to track gamblers’ habits, and not purely for marketing purposes. Reputable online casinos have as part of their terms and conditions a commitment to encouraging responsible gambling. AI can track players’ behaviours to see if they are playing obsessively (for example, for long periods without a break), or how often the player requires a cash top-up. Even the time taken to place bets can provide information on whether the player may be showing risky gambling behaviour.
Another plus of AI is the security it offers. A bot cannot be corrupted, it cannot be enticed to commit fraud, and it cannot steal identities. Theoretically, it can be hacked, but casinos place a lot of emphasis on computer security, so the likelihood of this happening is low. Ultimately, bots are safer, cost less than humans, and the return on investment in a bot is improving all the time.
The benefits of AI are real, and the costs to casinos of not availing themselves of innovations and improvements are too high for them to ignore. However, it is unlikely that we will see a wholly automated casino the next time we log in for one of our preferred games. Most of us still relish the challenge of being able to beat our fellow humans in a well-played, tactical game of backgammon or blackjack. Somehow, winning against a computer, while it may prove harder, just isn’t the same.