Belgian firm claims AI gambling addiction breakthrough

Belgian firm claims AI gambling addiction breakthrough
Credit: Belga

A Belgian gaming and online sports betting firm claims to have hit on an AI tool that will reliably flag the risk of addiction.

Liege-based Gaming1, who have partnership interests in North American and Australian casinos, say their new software capability will slam in-built brakes on users who show dangerous characteristics.

"We are currently honing artificial intelligence software which will serve as a tool for addiction detection that will be built into our platforms," chief executive Emmanuel Mewissen told Belgian business daily L'Echo. "Addiction is a public health issue, whereas 99% of users play recreationally."

"When a client slides into troubles associated with addiction, the pleasure has gone — and the activity no longer bears any relation to our values or mission... which is to promote responsible gaming or online sports betting."

Fund managers CVC Capital Partners have invested in Gaming1 since it sealed a joint venture with Delaware North casino operators last year.

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Various grounds exist whereby people can be banned from using such platforms, ranging from casino exclusions to debt administrator and court orders, although experts say only a fraction of at-risk users can be caught in this way.

Mewissen says their AI technology will provide analytical detection by measuring factors including player click-speed, the frequency with which gains are re-staked, connection times and returns etc.

"By encoding all of this data, we can get to the point where we can anticipate behaviour at risk of becoming problematic."

While the company will still rely on voluntary behavioural brakes being applied by players confronted with alerts, it has hired Université Libre de Bruxelles research professor Xavier Noel to advise on "an innovative and potentially very useful initiative designed to contain the risk of addiction."

Belgian lawmaker Els Van Hoof is behind a bill currently under committee scrutiny that aims to force operators to tighten controls in line with stricter Dutch legislation, obliging platforms to advise players of sources for help and inform regulators of outcomes.

The Liege CEO told L'Echo the technology might also find use in controlling compulsive shopping and other online arenas.

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