Posted May 12, 2014 by John Baintree in News

UK Technology Firm Uses Machine Learning to Combat Gambling Addiction

FOTB machines
FOTB machines

Remember Nancy Reagan, Ronald’s better half? She was the one who ran a Presidential campaign against drug addiction with the slogan “Just say no.” So that’s it then, no need for us to worry about gambling addiction –  do a Nancy, just say no.

Thank goodness there are people who take a more science based approach to the rigours of addiction these days. None more so that UK firm Featurespace. In the UK gambling, especially the online kind is booming. Recent research has indicated that as many as one in 20 owners of an iPhone have a gambling app that they regularly use.

Concerns about the onset of gambling addiction on a massive scale are now beginning to be voiced and research is now being conducted into how this addiction sets in.

An owned subsidiary of Cambridge University, Feature Space, is currently using machine learning techniques to discover what it I that leads people to be addicted. The research is being used to identify patterns of behaviour that indicate the possibility of problem gambling. The technique then provides psychologists with information that can be used to determine the most effective ways of treating the problem.

Originally working with gaming companies on identifying fraudulent behaviours, their experience in the industry led them to look at identifying behaviours associated with gambling addiction. Early fraud work identified “false chargebacks” where a customer denies making a card payment, as an indicator of those with addiction issues.

Featurespace’s work is of great significance to this dealing with addiction, but it is also of value to the gaming businesses who would benefit greatly if they could demonstrate that they ae intending to stop addiction taking hold of customers. This is an attractive alternative to gambling companies as the alternative for them is to face tighter and tighter restrictions on the way they run their businesses.

The technology allows the habits of individual gamblers to be monitored and when troublesome patters begin to emerge, action plans can be agreed to deal with them. The technology is so sophisticated that it will allow two different gamblers to use the same betting patterns but will only flag up those where addiction is a potential issue to be highlighted.

This type of technology is thought to be of use in social gaming, where children face exposure to addiction. Online games such as Candy Crush and Farmville could potentially be monitored with this technology to provide protection for children.