New AI to Identify Problem Gamblers Online 
A person uses an illuminated keyboard. (Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg)

New AI to Identify Problem Gamblers Online 

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Entain Plc says it will use big data in an attempt to identify problem gamblers, responding to a looming regulatory crackdown on the digital betting industry, which has been fueled by lockdowns during the pandemic.

The British company, which owns brands like Ladbrokes, will use data science and psychology experts to flag online gamblers behaving erratically. That will enable the company to switch off riskier features or connect players to customer service before their bets can cause them harm. The Advanced Protection & Care system, or ARC, will roll out starting in the U.K. around midyear.

“This product in every way is kind of self-adjusting in slowing down the offerings, so the player still enjoys the thrill,” Chief Operating Officer Sandeep Tiku said. “It’s almost like you’re in a car and you have a very sophisticated braking system.”

Online betting has soared under coronavirus lockdowns, attracting regulatory scrutiny. British lawmakers are weighing crackdown measures like advertising bans and limits on online stakes. The companies are under pressure from campaigners who say the industry hurts people and profits from its most-addictive products.

Gambling is also seeing a wave of corporate consolidation as companies merge to grab more of the fast-growing U.S. market. Entain, previously called GVC, recently rejected an approach from MGM Resorts International. The U.K. company’s online net gaming revenue rose 27% in calendar 2020.

Tiku said ARC will personalize profiles of customers and identify when intervention may be needed. He hopes it will eventually be shared with other companies in some form. Entain received input from academics in the U.K. and Germany. Developers and data scientists will continuously contribute to ARC, even while parts of the company work to make games more engaging.

“Our principle of thrill has changed now,” said Tiku, who will join Entain’s board of directors later this year. The company will make the development and marketing of games “less about players who play heavily, but more about players who play for fun.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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