Bookmakers Mining User Data with AI for Targeting Ads

A special report from The Guardian reveals how the gambling industry is turning to artificial intelligence to model user habits and personalise promotions.

Glasses resting in front of a computer screen with lots of code and data.

The scope in which the gambling industry is using AI is only starting to be revealed.

Citing insider sources from both current and former industry employees, the report described how customer behaviour on gambling platforms is scrutinised and mined with a view to encourage them to gamble later.

“The industry is using AI to profile customers and predict their behaviour in frightening new ways,” said a former digital marketing employee of a large betting operator. “Every click is scrutinised in order to optimise profit, not to enhance a user’s experience.”

The former employee went on to point at the details “hidden in the small print” as the constitution behind the organisation’s ability to mine this data for operational and marketing use. Due to drawn-out terms and conditions upon signing up, users are typically unaware of the different ways companies are using their data to better target them later.

“Once someone has logged into a gambling platform it can do whatever they want with them,” one current marketing executive for the gambling industry said. “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.”

To anyone who has been following the news recently, these reports will draw a lot of comparisons to Facebook’s and Mark Zuckerberg’s recent testimony in front of US Congress following the social media giant’s failure to protect user’s data from third-party manipulation, the situation with Cambridge Analytica being the highest profile case.

As more and more stories emerge of how the industry is utilising user data, for the most part not to their complete knowledge, the need for data legislation to catch up to the technology is becoming more and more prevalent. Whilst laws such as the Data Protection Act 1998 stipulate that users must be informed of how their personal data is used, it is clear that the grey area that exists around what makes a user informed needs to be more rigidly moderated.

You can see the full story from the Guardian newspaper here.

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