Reino Unido: A forma como as casas de apostas utilizam a IA para manter os jogadores agarrados

The gambling industry is increasingly using artificial intelligence to predict consumer habits and personalise promotions to keep gamblers hooked, industry insiders have revealed. Current and former gambling industry employees...

The gambling industry is increasingly using artificial intelligence to predict consumer habits and personalise promotions to keep gamblers hooked, industry insiders have revealed.

Current and former gambling industry employees have described how people’s betting habits are scrutinised and modelled to manipulate their future behaviour.

“The industry is using AI to profile customers and predict their behaviour in frightening new ways,” said Asif, a digital marketer who previously worked for a gambling company. “Every click is scrutinised in order to optimise profit, not to enhance a user’s experience.”

“I’ve often heard people wonder about how they are targeted so accurately and it’s no wonder because its all hidden in the small print.”

Publicly, gambling executives boast of increasingly sophisticated advertising keeping people betting, while privately conceding that some are more susceptible to gambling addiction when bombarded with these type of bespoke ads and incentives.

Gamblers’ every click, page view and transaction is scientifically examined so that ads statistically more likely to work can be pushed through Google, Facebook and other platforms.

“They’ll know everything about an individual from their inside leg measurement onwards,” said Nick, a consultant within the gambling industry.

Users unwittingly consent to the use of their data in ways they aren’t aware of due to lengthy terms and conditions, enabling their information to legally be used in this way.

“Once someone has logged into a gambling platform it can do whatever they want with them,” said Brian, a digital marketer for the gambling industry. “It’s like a science, it’s not just random advertising messages, the whole thing is personalised, and data-driven customer profiles are constructed from gamblers’ behaviour.”

Last August, the Guardian revealed the gambling industry uses third-party companies to harvest people’s data, helping bookmakers and online casinos target people on low incomes and those who have stopped gambling.

Despite condemnation from MPs, experts and campaigners, such practices remain an industry norm.

“You can buy email lists with more than 100,000 people’s emails and phone numbers from data warehouses who regularly sell data to help market gambling promotions,” said Brian. “They say it’s all opted in but people haven’t opted in at all.”

In this way, among others, gambling companies and advertisers create detailed customer profiles including masses of information about their interests, earnings, personal details and credit history.

“I never cease to be amazed at how low the gambling industry is prepared to go to exploit those who have indicated an interest in gambling,” says Carolyn Harris, a Labour MP who has campaigned for gambling reform.

“The industry is geared to get people addicted to something that will cause immense harm, not just to society but to individuals and their families. They are parasitical leeches and I will offer no apology for saying that.”

Technology outpacing legislation

The Facebook data scandal highlighted the potential risks of transferring people’s data to third parties, but there remains precious little regulation or transparency when it comes to data collection, retention and use.

“The legislation on data is a long way behind the technology itself,” said Asif. “We were often audited, and there were strict regulations on advertisements, but there was never any oversight on data.

“There are no safeguards to stop advertisers putting an email list with hundreds of thousands of people’s data on a USB and taking it with them when they finish a contract.”

The Information Commissioner’s Office points to the Data Protection Act 1998 and GDPR, which both place requirements on organisations to inform individuals about the ways in which their personal data is used.

“The GDPR strengthens this right to be informed, requiring organisations to provide people with additional information, including the lawful basis for processing, the period for which data will be stored and details of any third parties that will receive the data,” an ICO spokesperson said.

Elsewhere, there are plans to geolocate customers in order to identify when they arrive at stadiums so they can prompted via texts to bet on the game they are about to watch.

The gambling industry earned£14bn in 2016, £4.5bn of which from online betting, and it is pumping some of that money into making its products more sophisticated and, in effect, addictive.

“It’s no surprise that these companies are investing as much as they are into these sorts of algorithms to supposedly detect people who may be at risk of developing gambling problems, because the exact same technology allows them to market to people very effectively,” said Nick.

“It’s not a benign move on the part of operators, and although I wouldn’t say it is a cynical ploy, there are clearly huge commercial benefits from this sort of investment.”

A spokesperson for the Campaign for Fairer Gambling said: “Big Data is being cynically exploited by the gambling industry to target vulnerable consumers. So the Gambling Commission’s trust in operators to use customer data for social responsibility purposes is naïve at best.”

Mark Etches, chief executive of GambleAware, a gambling-related harm charity, said: “Gambling advertising can be anywhere from TV screens, to social media, to mobile phone apps, and it can be hard for people at risk of developing a gambling problem to ignore the overload of messages.

“We hope all gambling companies put a similar level of commitment and resources behind promoting safer gambling and the help available at as they do their own products.”

Some names have been changed to protect identities.

Source: The Guardian