Is it Morally Acceptable to use AI to Keep Gamblers Playing?

Artificial intelligence has a plethora of wonderful uses that are good for the society and people in general, but there are also cases in which the use of these modern technologies is considered questionable at best.

The Guardian published an article about the ways bookies use AI to keep gamblers hooked, which shined some light on an area that can create a lively discussion about morality in the gambling industry.

The thing is… It’s normal for businesses to use technologies to maximize their profits. Online stores use practices like remarketing to sell you more stuff, online platforms use information about you to target you with relevant ads and online casinos and bookmakers use AI and your behavior to make more money.

While the first two examples would seem morally OK to most people, the one with gambling probably wouldn’t. It’s probably because of the fact that in gambling, higher revenues for companies mean the players have to lose more. In addition, there is also an issue of problem gambling which really has the power to ruin lives in some cases.

So, how do bookies use AI and information about their players to maximize their profits?

What bonuses to offer?

A good example of usage of artificial intelligence in gambling can be found in the way bonuses are offered to players. Online casinos and bookmakers offer their players a wide range of bonuses that are designed to incentivize them to make and account, deposit money and place bets or play casino games.

It all starts with casino bonuses that are given to players when they create their account. They can get something for free (this is known as no deposit bonus) and they can get something for making their first deposit (this is known as deposit bonus). These bonuses are the same for all players, or at least for all players from the same counties, as big online gambling companies can have various bonus offers for different countries.

When the players sign up, it stops being necessarily the same for all of them and different approaches start kicking in. Let’s look at some examples. Imagine an online casino has three players:

  1. A regular recreational player who deposits a certain amount of money every week and has some fun
  2. A player who is not likely to deposit on his own, but can get hooked after playing a couple of rounds
  3. A player who doesn’t want to deposit his money, but is willing to do it when offered a good deal

It would make sense for the casino to offer nothing to the first player, because he is very likely to play anyways. The second player would most likely respond well to a no deposit bonus offer or free game rounds, which can get him hooked, increasing the probability he will actually deposit some money. The third player would most likely make use of a good deposit bonus which the casino can offer to him, while also maintaining a profit.

It’s clear that casinos and bookies can make use of any information they can get about their players. They collect data about their users’ behavior and use AI to decide what to do with the information.

It goes much further than that

As The Guardian’s article states, “every click is scrutinized in order to optimize profit, not to enhance a user’s experience.” So it’s not just about the bonuses, but basically about everything the player does or doesn’t do.

The article also quotes Brian, a digital marketer from the gambling industry, who stated that “It’s like a science, it’s not just random advertising messages, the whole think is personalized, and data-driven customer profiles are constructed from gamblers’ behavior.”

So, just like they often mention in movies, anything you say or do can and will be used against you. That’s why it’s important for the players to gamble responsibly, not fall for gambling operators’ clever ways to get them to play and seek help whenever you feel it’s needed.

In the end, these morally questionable practices are used against every single player, so it’s most likely smartest to stay away from gambling at all.

Tom Parillo

Tom Parillo

I am interested in all things technology, especially automation, robotics and tech that helps change how society will live in the future.
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