AI and Loyalty Programs Could Target Problem Gambling at Vancouver Casinos

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Casinos in Vnacouver could soon start using technology to target problem gamblers.

30-second summary

  • AI and loyalty programs could help target problem gamblers
  • Loyalty programs could offer benefits to gamblers
  • Messages could be sent to gamblers to seek help

Using AI to prevent problem gambling

Casinos in British Columbia could use artificial intelligence and loyalty programs to prevent gamblers from reaching the stage where gambling becomes addictive.

During a recent conference organized by the B.C. Lottery Corporation (BCLC) at the Parq Hotel and Casino in Vancouver, speakers discussed various measures that can be used to identify problem gambling, reports the Vancouver Sun.

Katy Yam of Element AI spoke about the potential of AI in targeting problem gamblers.

She said: “If someone who signed up for the loyalty program is exhibiting signs of problem gambling based on patterns identified in algorithms of problem gamblers who voluntarily self-excluded, you can cut out marketing and communications to that person.”

This isn’t the first time that technology has been called on to help prevent gamblers from getting in too deep. In October, Ian Proctor, CEO of Sky Betting & Gaming, said that technology should be used by the gambling industry to protect people from spending more than they can afford.

Adding to her comments, Yam noted that the loyalty programs could also be used to offer benefits to the best customers or to send messages to get players to take a break or visit one of the Game Sense kiosks for problem gamblers to receive help.

By September, BCLC is expected to have a Game Sense adviser at each of the 18 community gambling centers, which are in smaller towns. It’s already had an adviser at 17 of the larger casinos in the British Columbia for the past 10 years.

However, according to Jamie Wiebe, BCLC’s director of player health, players should also take responsibility toward identifying whether they have a problem and seeking the necessary help to tackle it.

Issue of loot boxes

During the conference, the topic of loot boxes was raised. For many jurisdictions, this is an ongoing issue that is being approached by several measures.

The Vancouver Sun noted an online survey of 144 adult gamers and 113 UBC undergraduates showing that gamers playing for loot boxes do so with the same behavior as gamblers.

According to Gabriel Woods, a clinical psychology doctoral student from the Centre for Gambling Research at UBC, most of the players were spending $10 (£7.5)  to $12 (£9) a month; however, others were spending hundreds of dollars.

Last April, the Dutch Gaming Authority gave four game developers eight weeks to fix illegal in-game loot boxes after ruling that they violated Dutch gambling laws. Shortly afterward, the Belgium Gaming Commission followed suit by deeming loot boxes in online games as illegal. As a result, they should be removed, the BGC said.

Notably, though, the CEO of Electronic Arts stated in May that loot boxes don’t constitute gambling, which was a view shared by France’s gambling regulator in July.

With speakers at the conference in Vancouver voicing their opinion on the impact that loot boxes can have, it seems that many are of the opinion that they should be regulated. It remains to be seen, though, if such action will be taken.