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Bookmakers use AI to keep gamblers hooked 30/04/18
• Artificial intelligence is being used to predict behaviour in ‘frightening new ways’ despite condemnation from MPs and campaigners

The gambling industry is increasingly using artificial intelligence to predict consumer habits and personalise promotions to keep gamblers hooked, industry insiders have revealed.

Current and former gambling industry employees have described how people’s betting habits are scrutinised and modelled to manipulate their future behaviour.

“The industry is using AI to profile customers and predict their behaviour in frightening new ways,” said Asif, a digital marketer who previously worked for a gambling company. “Every click is scrutinised in order to optimise profit, not to enhance a user’s experience.”

“I’ve often heard people wonder about how they are targeted so accurately and it’s no wonder because its all hidden in the small print.”

Publicly, gambling executives boast of increasingly sophisticated advertising keeping people betting, while privately conceding that some are more susceptible to gambling addiction when bombarded with these type of bespoke ads and incentives.

Gamblers’ every click, page view and transaction is scientifically examined so that ads statistically more likely to work can be pushed through Google, Facebook and other platforms.

“They’ll know everything about an individual from their inside leg measurement onwards,” said Nick, a consultant within the gambling industry.

Users unwittingly consent to the use of their data in ways they aren’t aware of due to lengthy terms and conditions, enabling their information to legally be used in this way.

“Once someone has logged into a gambling platform it can do whatever they want with them,” said Brian, a digital marketer for the gambling industry. “It’s like a science, it’s not just random advertising messages, the whole thing is personalised, and data-driven customer profiles are constructed from gamblers’ behaviour.”

Last August, the Guardian revealed the gambling industry uses third-party companies to harvest people’s data, helping bookmakers and online casinos target people on low incomes and those who have stopped gambling. Despite condemnation from MPs, experts and campaigners, such practices remain an industry norm.

“You can buy email lists with more than 100,000 people’s emails and phone numbers from data warehouses who regularly sell data to help market gambling promotions,” said Brian. “They say it’s all opted in but people haven’t opted in at all.”

In this way, among others, gambling companies and advertisers create detailed customer profiles including masses of information about their interests, earnings, personal details and credit history.

“I never cease to be amazed at how low the gambling industry is prepared to go to exploit those who have indicated an interest in gambling,” says Carolyn Harris, a Labour MP who has campaigned for gambling reform.

“The industry is geared to get people addicted to something that will cause immense harm, not just to society but to individuals and their families. They are parasitical leeches and I will offer no apology for saying that.”