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To 2020 and beyond: the future of AI in igaming

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Digitain: “Innovation, personalisation and gamification are definitely going to be the most exciting for us this year”.
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With Digitain’s Director of International Development, Simon Westbury

Our interpretation of artificial intelligence, its progressive role in the world, or its actual relevance to us in any given moment very much depends on our domain of discourse. We’ve all seen the dystopian movies about the rise of the robots. Elon Musk is talking about self-driving cars soon rendering human-driven vehicles illegal, at least on public roads. One AI “teacher” even apparently improved student marks by 35% compared to its human equivalent – wish I had one when I was at school! Meanwhile, back in our own realm of igaming, just take a stroll around any conference floor and you’ll see the majority of stands promising to automate you to the moon and back – and walk your dog while they’re at it. Surely they can’t all be right, at least right now.

So, let’s dispense with fantastical future, and deal in more sober realities. Where are we presently at when it comes to AI? Well, having chaired a panel on the very subject at the recent Eastern European Gaming Summit (EEGS), I’m now in a position to corral and share the thoughts of some top industry experts on artificial intelligence and its current implementations across our industry.

Automated, algorithmic trading is perhaps the most obvious use case for the industry, particularly for in-play betting which has taken over as the main driver for turnover in the UK (up to 70% in some reported cases). However, dig a little deeper or speak to any senior sports trader, and they’re still loading up and Excel spreadsheet, enabling macros on formulas, and overseeing the games themselves.

Quantitative models, running off data channeled from global odds markets, can accurately adjust prices and manage risk as things unfold. However, that’s it for now. By way of analogy, take chess. The algorithms may now wipe the board with the Grandmasters, but the best human-computer teams still consistently win against the robots. Algorithms can process a myriad of moves, but a more detached risk-management system with man-and-the-machine oversight still has its place. As with every intelligent endeavour, though, AI systems will surpass us one day. So, the costs of running sportsbooks are forever diminishing.

For my part, I’m especially interested in CRM as the next big potential differentiator for our operator partners over the coming year, especially in Europe’s more mature market post-GDPR. To which end, I predict that 2020 will be the year of the player journey and player protection. Therefore, it’s now up to operators and suppliers to process the myriad data points available nowadays, whilst also securing the best way to stay fully compliant within the tightening grip of worldwide regulation. Which means that both operators and suppliers must start asking the right questions – even basic questions such as: what do I want AI to achieve? I worry some industry peers sometimes expect the solution without taking the trouble to pose the correct question.

Expect the trend towards the personalisation of marketing to pick up its pace. It’s all about leveraging the data at your disposal, converting it into actionable insights that can boost your bottom line. Only optimal behavioural data insights and personalising your communication will reliably unlock the door to “dwell” time, not to mention gaining ground on the holy grail goal of knowing your customer from the login – their passions, their proclivities, the offers and bonus that drive engagement, a customised user interface promoting the markets they want. Tags which flag behavioural traits (in-play biases, preferred sports, even a customer’s favourite club or player) also offer a personalised and customised experience, configuring all aspects of the customer journey in a responsible, trackable way.

Old-school marketers may baulk at some of our revolutionary code-reliant methods. But at the end of the day, this is simply a question of data processing by a bigger-brained beast. After all, efficient information processing represents the backbone of any intelligent system, and no CRM team can handle these modern-day challenges manually. Basically, AI is a tool to hone and gear up what you can already do manually in order that a more efficient process can ensue. That’s true whether you’re measuring margin, safeguarding your customers from high-frequency deposits, or installing an optimised marketing campaign to better speak to the customer and elevates their experience.

There’s also a danger that regulation is becoming so politicised that new technologies, led by AI, are not being fully adopted in a way that best benefits the customer. That’s because regulators simply don’t understand AI since their respective CVs do not include any tech or gaming know-how. So, we need to promote effective use cases in order to better articulate the AI proposition and its inherent advantages to the relevant authorities.

Ultimately, my view is AI needs to be fully understood in the specific areas where we seek to employ it. We need to focus on the player in terms of entertainment and protection. We need to cooperate with the regulator in terms and language they quickly comprehend. One challenge which the entertainment AI disruptors of Netflix and Amazon have is that they cannot sell cross-platform. In our own industry, from an operator POV, we can. Accordingly, we’ve since seen a lot of stuff around request-a-bet and build-a-bet formats, so we’re getting some sort of worthwhile personalisation. Nevertheless, we can perform far better as we embrace machine-learning techniques. In fact, this represents one of Digitain’s central focuses – understanding the wealth of data we have and using the algorithms to produce a gaming equivalent of the Netflix experience, Betflix so to speak.

I concluded my seminar in Sofia by asking the panel to assign a percentage as to where we currently are when it comes to exploiting AI in gaming. Their answers varied between five and 20%. And while such predictions invariably aren’t worth the paper they’re written on, considering tech’s take-off potential (please pester a professor to explain the doubling power of Moore’s law!), we all agreed that we have barely begun to scratch the surface here.

Whatever the immediate future, it’s an exciting time at present if you’re operating in one of the most progressive and tech-friendly industries around. We’ve now put our powerhouse sportsbook platform in sync with these advances in automated processing. Those operators marooned on legacy technology, however, now have a new raft of agile bookmakers nipping at their heels. At the same time, others who own their own tech are capable of pulling away from the field. If I was stuck on a legacy platform, I’d be very concerned right now.

 

Author: Simon Westbury

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Continent 8 Technologies continues global expansion with two key hires in Asia

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Continent 8 Technologies continues global expansion with two key hires in Asia
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Lalaine P. Vidal joins award-winning infrastructure provider as Business Development Manager and Christopher Caturay as Technical Solutions Architect

Continent 8, the award-winning global managed hosting, connectivity and security provider, continues to build out its presence in Asia with two key hires.

Lalaine P. Vidal joins as Business Development Manager and Christopher Caturay as Technical Solutions Architect. Both will be based out of the Philippines and will be responsible for supporting the company’s growing customer base across the region.

Vidal has more than a decade of experience in sales and marketing across a range of sectors including banking, BPO, real estate, telco and IT cyber security. Caturay is a cyber security professional with experience in the end-to-end process of deploying solutions and applying best practices for various businesses and in a range of sectors.

The hires form part of a wider push in Asia, where Continent 8 already offers infrastructure, connectivity and security solutions to a range of customers in iGaming and beyond.

The company’s cyber security offering has seen exceptional growth in recent years, keeping up with the evolving cyber security landscape, and with cyber-attacks at an all-time high in Asia, Continent 8 can defend a customers’ infrastructure against the growing number of threats.

Lalaine P. Vidal, Business Development Manager at Continent 8 Technologies, said: “The opportunity to join Continent 8 was one I simply couldn’t turn down. It is the leading infrastructure provider in the industry, and I am looking forward to using my experience in sales and marketing to drive the business forward and further establish its presence and customer base across Asia.”

Christopher Caturay, Technical Solutions Architect at Continent 8 Technologies, said: “Asia presents unique challenges when it comes to infrastructure and cyber security. I’m excited to be working for a business that has a comprehensive and unique solution for businesses targeting the Asian market.”

Peter Williams, Managing Director – Asia Pacific at Continent 8 Technologies, added: “Lalaine and Christopher are great talents and are a brilliant addition to the Continent 8 team in Asia. This is an important market for us and one where we have ambitious growth plans that we are actively deploying.

“Lalaine will play a vital role in introducing more businesses to Continent 8 and the award-winning solutions that we provide, while Christopher will ensure that customers are deploying the right products and services for their organisation. This localised approach, along with having feet on the ground, is what makes Continent 8 the go-to infrastructure and security provider for companies targeting Asia and other markets around the world.”

Via network points of presence in Hong Kong, Japan (Tokyo), Philippines (Manila), Singapore and Taiwan (Taipei), Continent 8 connects Asia to the rest of the world over a high-capacity, fully redundant private network comprising 90+ locations.

Meet the Continent 8 team at ASEAN Gaming Summit, 21-23 March 2023 at the Manila Marriott Hotel.

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PRAGMATIC PLAY SECURES LATEST DEAL IN SWITZERLAND WITH SWISS CASINOS

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PRAGMATIC PLAY SECURES LATEST DEAL IN SWITZERLAND WITH SWISS CASINOS
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Pragmatic Play, a leading content provider to the iGaming industry, has partnered with Swiss Casinos, one of the biggest operators in Switzerland, as it further expands its foothold in the regulated market.

The supplier’s entire slot portfolio is now live with Swiss Casinos, giving players access to more than 300 premium games. Those include recent titles The Knight King™ and Cowboy Coins™, as well as multi-award-winning player favourites Sugar Rush™ and Gates of Olympus™, which are proven performers in the Swiss market.

The deal follows similar agreements with major Swiss brands such as Pasino.ch (Groupe Partouche) and 7melons (Grand Casino Bern), as Pragmatic Play cements its position at the forefront of slot development and distribution in Switzerland and beyond.

Irina Cornides, Chief Operations Officer at Pragmatic Play, said: “We’re thrilled to welcome Swiss Casinos to our growing operator base after a fast and straightforward integration. Introducing Pragmatic Play’s premier games
to an even larger audience will further strengthen our position in Switzerland, where Swiss Casinos is a leading online gaming brand.

“We look forward to working with the team closely as we continue to build momentum in this key regulated market.”

Patrick Mastai, Director Online Casino at Swiss Casinos said: “Pragmatic Play remains one of the most consistent and unique slot providers in the market. It makes sense for us to partner with such a leading industry name on our latest venture which will undoubtedly positively impact our growth plans.

“We are excited to be able to bring such a vast array of new titles to our casinos and raise the stakes for our slot enthusiasts.”

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Yggdrasil creates a buzz with new launch Bugs Money

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Yggdrasil creates a buzz with new launch Bugs Money
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Yggdrasil and Reflex Gaming are transporting players to a world where bees make more than honey in the latest YG Masters creation, Bugs Money.

Hailed by Reflex Gaming as one of their most impactful slots to date, the game presents a wide array of vibrant bees, bugs, insects, flowers and fruits. The colourful art and design is coupled with thrilling features: Free Spins and Glow Wilds reel modifiers.

The Free Spins feature is triggered when three or more scatter symbols land and offers a choice of 3, 7, 10, or 15 Free Spins with a max win multiplier of 50x, 20x, 10x and 5x respectively. This allows players to directly set the volatility of the Free Spins feature and encourages user participation.

During the bonus, the majestic Queen Bee symbol can land on the centre reel, increasing the multiplier by 10x, up to a huge maximum of 500x.

When the Glow Wilds reel modifier bonus is triggered during the base game or Free Spins, the setting changes from day into night. While the reels are spinning, glow bugs land on random reel positions to add wild symbols. The Queen Bee can also make an appearance during the Glow Wilds bonus to deliver insane wins.

Part of the YG Masters portfolio, Bugs Money is Reflex Gaming’s 13th title as part of the initiative. The offering is powered by GATI, Yggdrasil’s state-of-the-art technology enabling partners to employ the preconfigured, regulation-ready, standardised development toolkit to consistently produce cutting-edge content followed by rapid distribution.

Stuart McCarthy, Head of Product & Programs at Yggdrasil, said: “Bugs Money is a playful, fun and vibrant title with straightforward yet engaging game play.

“Our partnership with Reflex Gaming has been fantastic to date with over 10 titles launched and we are excited to introduce yet another premium game to our wide operator network.”

Mat Ingram, CPO at Reflex Gaming, said: “This game has been a lot of fun to create. It’s another original concept from our studio.

“Despite the tranquil setting, it can quickly turn volatile. The Free Spins can dramatically increase the volatility by offering a super volatile mode. Allowing players to set their own volatility in the Free Spins feature offers greater engagement and ensures the title appeals to a wide demographic.”

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