The gambling industry has developed and progressed towards complete digitalization since the inception of the first internet gambling website called Intertops.com in 1996. Online gambling is now a multi-billion-dollar industry predicted to reach a volume of approximately 60 billion dollars in 2020. This paper will discuss how big data has recently transformed the gambling industry in several ways. Since gambling is a game of numbers, it can produce a humongous amount of data. This data can be leveraged for personalizing player experiences, identifying addictions and mitigating risk.
A bookmaker, also known as a bookie, is an entity that is responsible for accepting bets, computing the odds and distribute the winnings. These bookmakers have begun using big data analytics to gather and manage information. They can make use of historical data and machine learning algorithms to predict the likelihood of winning a bet. This is prevalent in sports betting where it is possible to record player moves and team tactics.
Using big data methodologies, Google accurately predicted the outcomes of 14 matches and Microsoft did the same for 15 matches out of the total 16 matches during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Betegy, a startup company from Poland has used a set of diverse factors including the weather and coach’s birthday in their algorithms to correctly predict outcomes of ninety percent of English Premier League matches. They make use of two layers of data; the first layer includes basic statistics related to the sport while the second layer considers factors that play into the athlete’s emotions.
Big data aids online gambling in generating better advertisements which are unique to every player. Using cookies, online websites store the user’s preferences such as which games they choose and how often they login to play. These websites track and utilize demographics about the clients which include age group, gender and geographical location to develop marketing campaigns in order to push new games as well as increase traffic to existing games. Internet advertising is also a popular way to generate revenue. Digital advertising makes use of social and location data which is largely in the unstructured format. This sometimes acts as a challenge as such data does not work well with traditional relational database systems and results in extremely slow processing times.
In any product or service-based business, acquiring new customers is of prime importance. A close second to that is ensuring that these customers continue to remain loyal to the business. Big data helps gambling operators in increasing their customer retention rates. It is easy to identify which players are experiencing issues and reach out to them to solve their problems using predictive analytics. This saves time as the troubleshooting personnel can get a head start at finding the solution and quickly provide service to the client. It also creates a satisfactory experience on the client’s side. With actionable insights from big data, online gambling operators can create customized rewards programs, loyalty programs, special offers, discounted games and offer many more perks to the players.
Gambling in physical venues such as casinos has been a popular form of entertainment since the 1940s. Across the world, famous casinos such as MGM Resorts International are using real time and marketing analytics for understanding the demand of each game. Big data is being utilized to track consumer behavior for optimizing client experiences and gaining a holistic view of the performance of their offerings which include lodging, food and beverages, other miscellaneous entertainment. By analyzing the traffic, these destination casinos can deduce when a game loses popularity and replace it with a newer game. The study of customers allows these casinos to identify regular and big spenders. This facilitates targeted marketing and development of incentive packages.
Cepheus was the first ever computer program to play poker. It was invented at University of Alberta and is based on an algorithm known as counterfactual regret minimization (CFR). The developers created a large vector consisting of the probability distributions of every possible move in a poker game. A more sophisticated AI bot based on neural networks called DeepStack was created two years after Cepheus.
At its core is continual re-solving where the bot only stores two vectors and computes moves as the game proceeds. Its network consists of seven layers with each layer having five hundred nodes. Libratus is another AI bot that can play poker and has defeated highly ranked players in this game. It was invented at Carnegie Mellon University and relies on reinforcement learning. Since poker is an imperfect information game, it is not easy for artificially intelligent programs to master the game.
In 2017, three different gambling agencies merged to form Veikkaus which is the largest betting agency in Europe owned by the government of Finland. Veikkaus generates ten million euros in revenue each week which is contributed to Finnish society development. Veikkaus is an excellent example of the usage of big data technologies in the gambling industry. They employ Pentaho software to integrate data with their big data infrastructure which consists of Apache Hadoop, Kafka, Flume and HP Vertica. They have been handling huge transactions, amounting to two million messages and generating player statistics to monitor behaviors.
Veikkaus is actively trying to identify and fight gambling addiction with the help of big data. Their data analytics platform is capable of analyzing behavior of millions of players and then spot patterns which may lead to problematic gamblers. Some factors that they keep track of include amount of money and time spent on gambling, making very big bets, irregularity, varied bets, and so on. By summarizing customer data, they computed certain descriptive statistics which lead to the creation of a logistic regression model with one hundred parameters. Using insights from the model, Veikkaus is making decisions to curb addiction by cutting off marketing campaigns for these players. In the future, they plan to reach out to the player and offer help. They will also include data pertaining to meteorology as it has been found that weather has an impact on gambling activities.
It is safe to say that like other businesses, the gambling industry has come a long way in terms of technological advancement and adaptation of big data technologies along with the many benefits it has to offer.