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Could Artificial Intelligence Change Roulette Forever?

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We're well and truly living in the age of technology. Things have moved so fast in the last thirty years that the first online casinos, launched in the early 90s, now seem dull and poorly made. With the industry constantly looking for the next big thing, you may have heard whispers about artificial intelligence already. But how does it work, and how is it bringing online roulette to exciting new heights?

  • What is artificial intelligence?
  • AI in online casino customer support
  • AI for safer gambling
  • AI in the game of roulette
  • AI meets VR roulette
  • The future of AI

What is artificial intelligence?

If you've seen a few sci-fi movies, you're probably naturally wary of robots. Don't worry, though. Artificial intelligence is not going to lead to some terrifying rise of the machines; instead, it's something being used in a number of different industries to create a better experience for customers. Way back in 1997, an IBM computer beat grandmaster Garry Kasparov at chess, heralding a new dawn for AI. Technology has moved on since then, but the key of artificial intelligence remains the same: this is technology that learns.

At its most basic, it can be as simple as autocomplete in online searches. When you enter "best way to learn" into a search engine, there's some AI working behind the scenes. It analyses your personal search history, as well as that of other users with similar habits. Maybe you've been searching for translations, and you get "best way to learn spanish" pop up, while your kid brother sees "best way to learn to drive". It may not always be helpful, but that's your basic AI in action.

One important element of successful AI is that it learns autonomously. Programmers don't have to step in and feed it with more information. Instead, it uses all the data that it encounters to learn from its mistakes, and gradually get stronger and stronger. Often, a brand new AI system can seem faulty - but it is still on the road. Over time, its ability to detect patterns and respond accordingly will get better. Somewhere between search engine autocomplete and mighty chess machines, we have AI in the gambling industry. This is still very much in the development phase, but already, we can see some interesting ways that AI can improve your roulette experience. Many online casinos have started using AI. Let's take a look at how it works.

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AI in online casino customer support

You log into your favourite online casino, like always. This time, though, something has changed. The casino is quietly using AI software to enhance your user experience. It does this in the same way that autocomplete works: it analyses your habits, and responds appropriately. There's no flashy announcement telling you that the system has been overhauled, but slowly, the system learns what you want and how you tend to play. That means that if you love online roulette but don't bother with slots, over time you're going to see fewer slots ads. The casino won't bother pushing you to games that you're not interested in, instead focusing on what is tried and tested.

It also means that the casino knows your gaming habits: whether you're a cautious spender, how long you usually play, and how many games you might enter in a single session. Gradually, learning each time you log in, the casino give you an experience that is tailor-made for you. If you only play roulette online on Saturdays and Sundays, you won't get spammed with offers for midweek specials. If you never bet more than $25 in a session, your ads will reflect this. When you need to reach out for help, it'll be a much faster process, because the chatbot knows your habits. Sound good? AI and user experience is becoming more and more important in many different industries. In online gambling, though, it has some crucial uses that can make a huge difference to users.

AI for safer gambling

Having a nice user experience is pleasant, but it's not the most important potential use for AI in online casinos. Research is currently ongoing into using AI to fight the problems that have often dogged games of roulette:

  • fraud: AI can spot this and prevent it from happening; 
  • cheating: online casinos suffer from a lack of security cameras and doormen. AI can plug this gap, stepping in and preventing cheaters from prospering in games of roulette - and making a much better experience for those who play fair;
  • gambling addiction: AI can identify problematic patterns that lead to addiction.

Let's take a closer look at this last point, because this is really key. Contrary to popular opinion, all online casinos want to fight gambling addiction. It's a deeply unpleasant disease that can damage players' lives, as well as mar the reputation of the entire industry. At the moment, though, systems are limited; problem behaviour can only really be seen after it's already in full swing. The benefits of AI in fighting gambling addiction could be incredible. By monitoring data patterns, AI could identify the triggers that lead a player to become addicted. Rather than stepping in when things are already out of control, a sophisticated system can identify the precursors to problematic behaviour. Accounts may be suspended, and players directed to resources which will allow them to get help before their problem spirals totally out of control. Does this sound farfetched? It isn't.

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Behavioural analysis is already used in a number of other industries. For years, supermarkets have used loyalty schemes to monitor the products that consumers buy, and are now able to identify when a woman is in the early stages of pregnancy based solely on the contents of her basket. Supermarkets can use this information to send vouchers for baby-related products, encouraging consumer loyalty. This is just one example of how AI uses collections of data to draw accurate conclusions. Applied to the world of gambling, it presents an unrivalled opportunity to study and learn from problematic behaviour.

We could be on the brink of new breakthroughs about the often-misunderstood condition of gambling addiction and how it develops. This is useful not only for the online casinos themselves, but also for psychologists working to combat the condition. As this technology develops, we can expect to see a more sophisticated understand of players' behaviour and, with some luck, work towards wiping addiction out of online roulette.

We can also take a little look at how AI can combat cheating. In online casinos, deceitful players with some tech know-how can create their own AI systems to try to beat the casino. This dirty play makes the game significantly less fun for honest players, who may be stuck alongside a cheater. Luckily, AI can beat them at their own game. The AI engine used by the casino can identify patterns which are red flags, indicating that a cheater is currently at the table. The troublemaker will be removed from the game, and things progress pleasantly for the remaining players. Again, the learning element of AI is essential here. It's sadly inevitable that cheaters will continue to develop more and more sophisticated systems to try to win - but because AI learns as it goes, it will respond to these new patterns.

AI in the game of roulette

Artificial intelligence can enrich the game of online roulette, giving players a more sophisticated experience. Used effectively, AI makes the game seem far more realistic. Think back to your first online casino experience. It was probably a pretty stilted affair, with exactly the same prompts being given again and again. AI can help create a dealer who responds to you just like in a real casino, and whose questions and answers change as the game progresses.

How is this done? The science here is all about decision trees. These govern the way that characters respond to you - in video games, online casinos, and many more situations. In a modern video game, for example, a secondary character might get angry, make friends, or even fall in love with your avatar - all based on your interactions. Now, the same is possible in a game of online roulette. If you're always betting on 7, for example, the character of the dealer will notice and might make comments: "Is that your lucky number?" If your betting habits change, with more or less money in play, he'll say something about that. The longer you play roulette, the more the dealer will get to "know" you and your habits. This gives you the chance to have a truly personalised experience - the type that you might enjoy in a real casino, now available online. As the game progresses, you will feel more and more immersed.

AI meets VR roulette

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The other big tech innovation in the world of online roulette is virtual reality. VR equipment may not be common in every household yet, but it's only a matter of time. Already in use in video games, VR allows players to be fully immersed in a complete 3D environment. It's easy to imagine how this could work with an online casino. Even the games with the most sophisticated graphics can't match the 3D immersion offered by VR. Imagine stepping out of the lobby and onto the casino floor, passing through crowds of people on your way to the roulette table. Each bystander looks different; some are alone, others in groups. When you reach the roulette table, the dealer greets you. Perhaps other players try to strike up a conversation with you and, thanks to the wonders of AI, your responses dictate their reactions. VR could offer players who've never been to the United States a chance to experience Vegas. The sights and sounds will make this an authentic "real world" casino experience. Integrated AI ensures that the VR magic won't be lost when the dealer opens his mouth. You won't hear the same phrases again and again; instead, each response is new, and the dialogue evolves as you play.

The future of AI

Now, you may have to wait a little while for VR technology to be rolled out across all platforms. Until then, though, online casinos are doing a great job at working existing AI into their games. Ever more sophisticated versions of roulette are appearing, with immersive dealers who are as much a part of the game as the wheel itself. When you're playing roulette, you'll notice AI in action - but a lot of the time, you may not even know it's there. We can divide AI into two broad categories: the kind that you see in a game, that makes you sit up and say "wow", and the kind that works behind the scenes, quietly checking data to improve your experience as a customer in the casino. The AI that is used to smooth your user experience has to work smoothly to be a success. Have you ever felt that online ads were spying on you? That's something that AI developers want to avoid. When consumers feel that AI has crossed a line, they get nervous and uncomfortable - exactly the opposite of what should happen. A well-run AI system will leave players happy that their online casino of choice seems to know them, their habits, likes, and dislikes, and looks after them accordingly.

Whatever happens next, we can be sure that both the big, flashy AI that makes roulette games seem totally real, and the subtler kind that leaves you a more satisfied customer, are here to stay. Together, they could lead to more immersive and enjoyable online roulette.

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