Everyone talks about Artificial Intelligence – but how does their use in business practice actually work? The example of digital consumer protection and the tools used for online gambling can be used to understand the huge potential and the limits that have been set so far.
How digitization is changing an industry …
The rapid growth of the digital market has created numerous global players in different areas: Facebook, Amazon, Google, but also lesser-known companies such as Tencent Holdings or gambling provider GVC. Stock exchange-oriented, digital groups have emerged across all sectors that are interested in growing sustainably. This only works if you stick to the complex regulatory rules of the target markets and generate customer satisfaction and trust. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer 2019, trust in a brand is the essential and decisive factor for or against a company for the vast majority of consumers.
… and consumer protection benefits
Trust in digital players depends on how companies protect consumer interests in a new world of digital services. In the area of online gambling, gaining trust first and foremost means implementing and continuously developing comprehensive measures to protect against fraud as well as to ensure data protection and security. Only those who manage this will be able to compete in the long term on the European gambling market. This can not be done without consistent investments in IT know-how and qualified specialists. Effective digital consumer protection costs. For example, the GVC IT department alone has more than 1,000 employees.
Looking into the black box: How does digital consumer protection work?
But how exactly does this digital consumer protection work in business practice? In the online gambling industry, it begins with the so-called player account: each customer has a unique account, similar to, for example, Amazon. This account basis makes it possible to fully understand online gaming activities – which is also required by law in many markets, for example in Schleswig-Holstein in Germany. This makes it easier to identify fraud attempts or approaches to problem gambling than “offline” – and it also makes prevention easier.
Algorithms, big data analytics and human intelligence
Toolkit I for protection and security of personal data and protection against fraud or manipulation:
Based on the account-based approach, we use a variety of digital consumer protection tools that can be roughly grouped into two toolkits. The first toolkit is aimed primarily at the protection and security of personal data and the protection against fraud or manipulation. It combines algorithms with the use of cross-industry databases and the last-instance human intelligence. The basic equipment is digital standard tools for protecting customer data, including what the law requires. These include a multi-level security system, 128-bit SSL encryption, multiple firewalls or the ISO 27001 standard information security certification
Algorithms play a role in fraud protection and tampering, for example, and alert you to unusually high wagers or wins. At GVC, an internal investigation team then checks the digital alerts. The results of these tests, in turn, flow back into the algorithms, which make them continuously more accurate.
Finally, we use external analysis of large amounts of data to to obtain independent, industry and transnational insights for fraud and tampering. In the sports sector, for example, there are service providers that use sports indicators to analyze sports events via specific indicators for their susceptibility to tampering and to provide real-time alerts. Tamper-resistant games can be taken out of the offer in this way immediately.
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Artificial intelligence, developed with the help of independent research
Toolkit II for prevention and control of addictive behavior:
The prevention and control of pathological, that is, pathological gaming behavior, has a special significance in (online) gambling. The shift away from analog and towards digital offers offers particular opportunities here. For in the “analog” gambling market of stationary venues, for example in vending machines in restaurants, is much more difficult to control whether someone develops an unhealthy gaming behavior.
Even without the use of artificial intelligence digital comprehensive protection is possible. For example, algorithms developed based on research in the United Kingdom identify so-called “markers of harm”: endangerment features such as “playing late at night” or “increasing game time”, which indicate problematic usage behavior. Depending on the intensity and combination of various factors, the software categorizes the individual risk potential and alerts the customer service, which then initiates further steps, if necessary, up to a ban on gaming.
Artificial intelligence is pushing the effectiveness of this system even further. It enables even more complex analyzes of various factors and can assess the individual risk even faster and more reliably. The game behavior is not only analyzed in real time (with subsequent human testing). It is also managed in real time so that the system automatically initiates preventive measures that are tailored to each player (because each person ultimately has their own comfort zone). This may be a pop-up window that suggests a game break or that a game played too intensely is simply not displayed anymore.
Evaluation of anonymous game data
In order for the digital player and consumer protection to be really effective in the long term, one principle is of outstanding importance: the knowledge gained must be constantly extended and improved. GVC also relies intensively on research collaborations with independent international institutes. These include several science-based gaming projects with the Division on Addiction at the Cambridge Health Alliance, a teaching hospital at Harvard Medical School. The scientists were able to evaluate anonymised game data from our platforms.
It is important that such cooperations are regularly reissued over a longer period of time, even if this is costly. The input in the form of up-to-date research results is fundamental for the further development of intelligent algorithms and the lasting effectiveness of digital protective measures. If research institutes can then use the experience gained from the company’s practice in the form of anonymous user data and in accordance with the GDPR, research also benefits: The algorithms are becoming even more intelligent and consumer protection measures for digital services are even better.
The example online gambling shows: Especially the smart interaction of human and artificial intelligence is a critical success factor, which must be considered when using self-learning algorithms. In this way, European companies can set global standards in digital consumer protection and compete on a long-term basis in the competition for customers and their trust.
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About Florian Sauer
Florian is Compliance Director at the GVC subsidiary bwin. In this role, not only a deep understanding of the regulatory requirements in the gambling sector is indispensable, the technical implementation of the requirements must also be actively and conceptually accompanied. For this, Florian draws on his many years of experience in the industry, as well as on his MBA studies at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg with a focus on business informatics.
GVC Holdings PLC (LSE: GVC) is a multinational betting and gaming provider and member of the FTSE 250. The GVC shares are traded on the London Stock Exchange. With around 25,000 employees and partners at 18 locations on 5 continents, the GVC Group generates a net gaming revenue of around 3.3 billion euros per year. GVC Holding includes leading brands in the industry such as bwin, Ladbrokes, Sportingbet, partypoker and PartyCasino.