big-data-gamblingAccording to research, between 3 and 5 per cent of gamblers end up becoming gambling addicts, plunging themselves, their loved ones and wider society into real problems.

Millions is spent at different levels of society to treat gambling addiction, or make people aware of the signs of a problem. Gambleaware.co.uk, for example, has run the Bad Betty TV campaign for over a year now.

It is therefore no surprise that an innovative way of identifying problem gamblers in the early stages has been developed. This technology is a result of the ground breaking application of machine learning and data.

Growth of the gambling industry

The gambling business has grown to a sector that yields over $500 billion in yearly revenues around the world. The growth can be largely attributed to the rise of internet gambling, and the increase in popularity of new forms of gaming with wider appeal, such as bingo sites for the UK audience such as newsitesforbingo.com and fantasy sports betting sites like FanDuel, DraftKings etc. The rise of such sites means that the gambling business model has opened up to more diverse sections of society.

However, the growth of the industry, and ease with which people can gamble these days, has led to the growth of gambling addiction. The problem cuts across society now, and is silently affecting more and more people on their tablets and laptops in living rooms around the country.

Solution to gambling addiction in the UK

In the UK, regulated gambling has been legal for decades. This had led to more than half the population being regular gamblers and a rise in the number of problem gamblers. For such people, the gambling thrill gives them a natural high that can become addictive.  The UK government has laid out plans to address the problem and doctors now prescribe Naltrexone to gambling addicts just as they do with drug addicts and alcoholics. However, these solutions have not yielded significant and sustainable results as yet.

BetBuddy, based in the UK, saw this as an opportunity to provide a solution that could have far reaching effects in the gambling world and launched a software based product known as PowerCrunch.  The product uses data mining and machine learning techniques to pinpoint people that are at high risk of becoming problem gamblers.  The machine works by calculating a risk score for gamblers based on their actions and then sending out personalised and targeted messages to players in a bid to help them understand their behaviour, and the implications of it, thereby helping them to nip a potential problem in the bud.

How PowerCrunch works

A look at the PowerCrunch system shows it is based on the three levels of gambling data published by BetBuddy in the past.

According to the research, the first tier takes a look at exhibited behaviour, or data that is collected directly from casino management systems. The second takes a look at behaviour declared by the individual in a self-assessment test, and the third revolves around inferred behaviour.  All data used is anonymised to ensure protection of privacy.

How has it worked in the real world thus far?

PowerCrunch is still in a relative early adoption phase but this responsible gaming solution from Betuddy has been welcomed by gambling bodies around the world. The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, for instance, tested the software and discovered that 9 out of 10 players believed the software was useful in managing their personal gambling habits.

In the future it is expected that the makeup of the PowerCrunch model will be made public, as regulators and gaming executives are curious about how the software arrives at its predictions.

The gambling industry’s growth is not set to down anytime soon. Casinos therefore have the responsibility of identifying that problem group of gamblers that do not know where to draw the line. New applications such as PowerCrunch have demonstrated that the gambling addiction challenge can be tackled without introducing over the top restrictive measures that would prohibit a large number of people from enjoying gambling fun.

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