Blog 53 Gaming

Trends and Learnings from ICE 2019

18 March 2019

Earlier in February, we exhibited at ICE for the second time running. It’s one of the biggest and most anticipated gaming conferences in Europe and is always great for taking a wide look at the industry. We use this opportunity to not only make new contacts and promote our services, but to learn about the latest changes, trends, hot topics and innovations.

We sent our Product Team to have a look around, network, talk to our colleagues in betting and gaming and discover what’s new. Here are the things that stood out the most.

Bruno - AI/Machine Learning is a win-win tool

The entire IT industry has been discussing AI for decades. It’s seen as the silver bullet that will solve all problems. It’s like a magic box that will autonomously make our business work in the most efficient way. But the reality is a bit far from movies, such as Ex-Machina or iRobot, where a scary, sentient machine takes control of the world and becomes independent.

The good news is what the current technology can offer, is very useful for the online gambling industry for two main reasons: tailored marketing and responsible gambling. One of the industry’s objectives has always been to spend less for maximum ROI. The new trend from the regulators is responsible gambling and it’s been one of the most important areas that the industry is currently focusing on.

Having a tool that can manage both of these things with a single input was one of the most interesting things I saw there. The idea is to take anonymously (GDPR is always there watching us!) all the transactional data (e.g. bets and gaming sessions) we have and predict what's going to happen next. Simple as that. For example, it can be applied to a VIP reactivation campaign if the machine predicts that a certain number of VIPs is going to spend less than usual. It can also be applied to identify problematic patterns in player behaviour. They can be acted upon before they do something that is deemed ‘high risk’. This last bit sounds like preventing something bad that is yet to happen (Minority Report anyone?), but when it comes to help our customers to avoid risky behaviour, nothing is too futuristic.

To recap, we have a single machine, which has our data. It learns various patterns and produces live actions and reports that marketing can use for effective customer retention/reactivation campaigns, only targeting specific accounts and thus lowering the overall spend. It’s also useful for monitoring high risk behaviour and preventing customers from engaging in any problem gambling. This also helps operators to lower risk and suspend these accounts before anything negative happens.

Kim - KYC and verification more relevant than ever

Know-your-customer (KYC) is the process of identity verification that all gaming operators use for their customers. This is a hot topic at the moment for most companies, but especially for the gambling industry. With the number of children gambling quadrupling in the past two years, the UK Gambling Commission are trying to crack down on KYC. Age verification regulations will be changing the face of player onboarding, with new regulations coming into place on May 7th.

Businesses like GBG, Jumio and Hooyo are one of many that we spoke to at ICE. They are online identity verification companies, combining ID verification with face scanning. Their use machine learning and biometric facial recognition to ensure the person behind the transaction is present and who they say they are. They are able to accurately identify a good customer, and most importantly, verify their age with 4 levels of security. These intelligent platforms help to enhance a customer’s identification and simplify the experience, providing results within seconds. I can only see companies like these growing and developing with technology as fraudsters get smarter.

Lee - Player statistics provide new levels of entertainment

Two of the major UK bookmakers have now incorporated fast player statistics feeds into their offerings to include player and match markets, covering shots on and off target, tackles, assists and passes to name just a few. The likes of Sky Sports and BT Sports use the same metrics, providing live or historic data, customisable visual data widgets or innovative analytical metrics, engaging the audience with unique, multi-platform sport experiences.

Goals are still the most important betting related occurrence within a football game. On average, there are 2.68 goals scored in the Premier League but shots either on or off target happen ten times as frequently and from a wider range of players. This allows for new player-focused experiences that occur throughout the 90 minutes. It’s a new level of entertainment even throughout a boring 0-0 draw.

The granular feed means player and team stats can now also be incorporated at scale into bet-builders and request-a-bets. These products completely outperform other traditional football markets, where on average, you would envisage a margin of around 6-7%, compared to a huge 40% margin. This has set the bet-builder offering apart from other betting services and as the thirst for this type of betting increases, it’s only a matter of time that further granular type markets are added to the offering.

Will - Automated risk management

Successful risk management is a key driver of margins, but it is a manual, costly and often subjective process. While B2B providers offering pricing and content have been around for some time, until now, there hasn't been much noise about automated risk management, which is why this particular service caught my eye at ICE 2019.

This new automated risk management service profiles customers into risk categories and uses algorithms to adjust prices based on their profile, weight of money and predicted market movement. Automation in this area would cut out the need for so many eyes on bet tickers and field books where traders are trying to intercept key customer behaviour and use their own expertise to manage prices. Retrospective analysis on customer behaviour would also be reduced, with all bets analysed in real-time and used to build a player’s profile, and ensure an accurate risk category is applied.

There could be a huge appetite for this type of artificial intelligence in the industry and it may not be long until we see other providers attempting to build something similar.

These are some of the more interesting things we’ve spotted at ICE and look forward to seeing how they will be further implemented across gaming and betting products. We’re always excited about new tech, so if you’d like to discuss any of this further, get in touch with us below.

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