How will the new AI ‘cool off’ system affect gambling


Casinos have long anticipated the move. Artificial Intelligence is going to help brands tackle gambling addiction across the United Kingdom, now that new measures have been introduced to monitor gambling.

After the regulatory measures restricting fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTS) to £2, the United Kingdom will now introduce a new AI powered system to prevent players rushing after their losses.

The new cooling off system will lock gamblers out of slot machines for 30 seconds, enough time, psychologists believe for an individual to ‘snap out’ of their momentary desire to chase losses.

Will the AI Cool Off System Benefit the Player?

Opinions are mixed. This is the latest technological advancement deployed in the United Kingdom to help tackle a problem that has been growing for a while now.

As early as 2017, one of the big industry names, Kindred Group, published an article explaining how Artificial Intelligence can help businesses spot errant gambling behaviour.

Today, what Kindred hypothesised about is becoming a reality firmly built into the fabric of UK gambling reality.

Yet, the question remains, is this new cooling system going to really help the player?

Not according to some experts who said the cooling off period may indeed be a bit too short for an individual to fully comprehend and realise they are going through a compulsive gambling stage.

Nevertheless, the system launched by the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) will be introduced to the entire market. The BGC alone accounts for 90% of this market share.

How Are Companies and Business Reacting?

A Betfred spokesperson has already said that as many as 1,600 shops have received the system in November – this is the full stock of the company.

Meanwhile, Ladbrokes Coral added that 3,200 of their slot machines have been equipped with the system, once again the full portfolio of the company.

To make sure the AI is doing its job, developers have decided to rely on staff members as well. This way, every time the AI is triggered a staff member can go and see what is happening.

Staff will play an ever more important role in analysing the state of mind of individual players. This is especially the case now that the UK Gambling Commission will pursue even individual wrongdoers, i.e. staff members.

The AI will of course carry out the bulk of the statistically relevant work. As per the BGC, the software has been trained to create profiles of players so that problematic behaviour can be spotted early and aided if and when needed.

A Step in the Right Direction

While this seems to be a promising move towards reining in reckless gambling behaviour it may not be enough, at least according to Mark Griffiths from the Nottingham Trent University.

A behavioural scientist, Professor Griffiths has conducted a similar study in the past. Together with other academics, he examined whether a 90-second break introduced in Norway helped players actually ‘cool down.’

The results were negative, with no improvements in the behaviour patterns of the individual.

If a person has to wait before they can bet, the thinking goes, they would either need to spend more time – which may be impossible due to time restrictions – or just give up earlier.

However, more statistical data would be needed to pinpoint the exact benefits from a cooling period and more importantly – what a proper cooling down period is.

Will Business Be Affected?

Gambling in the United Kingdom is changing quickly and the regulator and lawmakers are coming together to ensure players are safe.

Yet, there are many moving parts to consider. However, the latest measures introduced will hardly affect big companies financially.

While the FOBT measures proved almost destructive to business and hundreds of shops were closed down, the new regulatory measure is not considered a big financial drain on gambling businesses.

Meanwhile, taxes in the UK are due to go up a notch, particularly for the online segment, which has also seen stricter regulatory measures coming its way.

The Future of AI Gambling

While it is too early to gauge the exact benefits of a 30-second cooling period, Artificial Intelligence is going to play a big part in how people gamble.

As regulators push for more objectively fair criteria for gambling, machines are going to step in and offer a completely unbiased view of the world.

Some companies may have considered emotional reasons in drafting their policies. However, AI will be able to provide business, regulators, lawmakers and the public with statistical data.

The hopes are that this statistical data can be translated into actionable data.