Artificial intelligence

The state of the AI revolution

| By Josephine Watson
As the technology moves from hype to reality, how does AI fit in the gaming ecosystem? Ivan Montik discusses its potential...

Ivan Montik is the founder of SoftSwiss, BGaming, and Merkeleon. Since 2009, he has been running a number of projects in IT, fintech and igaming. Montik also founded CoinsPaid and Cryptoprocessing.com, crypto payment processing solutions for e-commerce, PSP, igaming, and streaming. 

Montik is a passionate supporter of democratic rights and freedom of speech, collaborating with the OSCE mission at the 2004 and 2008 parliamentary elections and the 2006 presidential elections in Belarus. He became one of the founders of the European Center for the Freedom of Press in Leipzig and signed the European Charter on the Freedom of Press adopted on May 25, 2009, in Hamburg.

The conversation around AI, slowly but surely, is shifting from being theoretical to practical through many different use cases.

From personalisation to automated assistants and anti-fraud, machine learning has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, catching the attention of forward-thinking software and platform providers the world over.

One such company would be SoftSwiss, a gambling software developer that offers a complete igaming solution. We spoke with Ivan Montik, SoftSwiss to learn more about the state of play for AI in igaming.

He begins: “It’s been over 20 years since the world chess master Garry Kasparov lost to the computer. Since then, there has been no doubt that a computer can be a serious partner in games.

“An area where a lot of progress has been made is in design and UX. The world of games has become much closer to reality due to breakthrough AI technologies and smart ML modelling. For example, it’s really hard to recognise the artificial nature of rendered shadows, clouds, or water, which amplifies the presence effect.”

The scope of change

So, with so much on-the-ground innovation already happening, what comes next for AI?

Montik says: “ML technologies are growing very fast. Three years ago doing what we do now was unbelievable, but it is now possible due to the significant increase of GPU processing speed and the massive amount of data that is available for machine learning and deep learning algorithms to feed on. We believe there is no visible limit – the fun has just begun!”

He continues, highlighting security and AML as major focus areas for the development of AI applications: “It is extremely important to know how to recognise unscrupulous players and prevent their fraudulent actions. 

“There have been several cases of players making major wins on casino games by applying different probability programs or just using AI bots themselves. When it’s all happening online, it’s hard to track.”

To counter this challenge, SoftSwiss developed its own anti-fraud system using machine learning: “It analyses player’s behaviour in real-time and if any suspicious actions are detected, immediately reports to the operator. 

“The system also recognises fake documents which a player might submit at the registration or for cash out, and blocks any further activities.”

Another area of great significance to the rollout of AI is responsible for gambling. While many share concerns about the negative impact AI may have on consumer protection as a result of increased personalisation and retention, the technology can be applied for the greater good.

Montik echoes this, saying: “The progress made in terms of responsible gambling is immense. AI helps analyse user’s actions and detect potential problematic behaviour. 

“In this case, the online casino operator can be notified and the user account will be suspended. It’s a real benefit for players with gambling addiction as they can get real-time help.”

Applying AI

Beyond the aforementioned anti-fraud system, Montik details other exciting AI applications in SoftSwiss’ portfolio.

“Several years ago we created our own Research and Development department to focus on implementing AI, machine learning and data analysis in our online casino platform. The team is working in different directions to cover all major aspects of AI in online gaming.

“It’s a work in progress,” he continues, “but certain features are already in production and enjoyed by both operators and players.”

In addition to personalisation and automated customer care assistants, which have become fairly widespread applications throughout the industry, Montik says SoftSwiss have improved casino management by launching customised bonuses and smart free spins. 

Additionally, he adds, SoftSwiss have created a lifetime value prediction feature, which analyses the player’s behaviour and predicts the situation in which the player might decide to leave the casino. In this case, the system makes corresponding changes to motivate the player to stay a little longer. 

The results have been strong, says Montik: “All of that increased the lifetime value of a player by 7 – 10%, so figures speak for themselves.”

This may only be the tip of the iceberg, however, as Montik continues: “Although much has been done in the last years, there’s still a great potential for growth and improvement. 

“From the whole scope of possible AI penetration in all spheres of online gaming, only about 30% has been covered so far. Many software providers still ignore the benefits that machine learning can bring to online casinos and are not implementing AI either for UX personalisation or for anti-fraud systems. In five years, they won’t be able to stand up to the competition.”

Once AI development is in full swing, Montik sees an entirely different landscape for both igaming and land-based casinos: “Casinos will be fully powered by AI with minimal engagement of the operator’s employees. 

“As an online gamer, you will be entering an online casino tailored specifically for you, with the design, sounds and content completely meeting your expectations. Amplified by VR, such games will take over the whole igaming world.”

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