You wouldn’t get into a car which hasn’t passed its safety checks, so why would you bet with an operator that doesn’t have the necessary safer gambling measures in place?
A question posed by Rasmus Kjaergaard, CEO of Mindway AI, at the recent SBC Summit North America event, as he assessed the roll out of safer gambling measures across US states.
Speaking to SBC News, Kjaergaard gave us a sneak peak into Mindway AI’s plans for the US market, highlighting some of the key differences in safer gambling regulation across North America and Europe.
How is Mindway AI continuing to strengthen Better Collective’s focus on responsible gambling?
We have accomplished a lot over the past few months. Starting around the UK Safer Gambling Week last year, we have deployed our neuroscience based self-service solution, Gamalyse, across all Better Collective websites which now span around 15 different jurisdictions. As part of that, the solution has been translated into 13 different languages.
The other thing is that Gamalyse has also been integrated into Better Collective’s Intranet. Research has previously shown that employees of companies related to the gambling industry are more exposed to problem gambling when compared to employees of other industries. So as a CSR initiative, this has been integrated into the Better Collective’s internal systems.
As a majority owner of Mindway AI, Better Collective is absolutely the most supportive owner you could have in terms of supporting our mission of empowering gambling operators to enhance player protection. I strongly believe that Gamalyse will become a global solution.
What role can Mindway AI and the Gamalyze tool play in spearheading safer gambling efforts across the US?
Well, one of my takeaways when I took off from Newark was definitely that I have a much better understanding of where the US market is in terms of the responsible gambling measures, regulations and so on.
We’ve seen movements towards more regulations in the gambling space, especially when it comes to detection of problem gambling behaviour. It is still early days though, and that’s understandable given that the US is still a new market; part of the market maturity in this industry, to my understanding, is that RG measures tend to be put in place a bit further down the line.
What we are able to support is this movement that we’re seeing now in New Jersey, which was the first state to publish new requirements on data analysis for the purpose of problem gambling detection. We’re very confident that we are able to accommodate that based on our solutions and experience in Europe, which includes our Gamalyse self test that I spoke about before, but also our GameScanner solution.
GameScanner is literally a virtual psychologist based on AI. So, what we do is we build an algorithm, we combine it with insights from human psychologists. What we then want to achieve is to replicate their assessment of the full behaviour of a gambler into the algorithm and then replicate this into the number of active players. That way then, each morning, the operator has a new risk analysis of each of the active players from the day before and that opens the opportunity for much earlier detection.
The full picture shows that programmatic gambling behaviour gives the opportunity for much earlier detection – allows the operator to send messages to the individual customer based on their gambling behaviour.
What have been the key differences between the US and Europe when it comes to ensuring that players are best protected from problem gambling?
The way I see the US market currently is that there is a great range of safer gamling tools available – including the typical self exclusion tools.
But the way I see it is that you would never even consider buying a car without safety systems or taking a flight in an aeroplane without the safety systems that are in place. But you can gamble with operators who have very few responsible gambling systems in place. What we provide with the GameScanner is these safe systems, a kind of lane keeping assistance as explained before.
The key difference is with regulations. In Europe, which includes jurisdictions we are already working in such as the UK, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands, the regulations very much outline which obligations you have as an operator in terms of protection, monitoring of your customers and how you address problem gambling.
How important is it that state legislators are placing responsible gambling measures at the forefront of the agenda, now that more states are continuing to legalise sports betting and igaming?
In my opinion, both Mindway AI and Better Collective are very firm in their view that gambling is a form of entertainment. We do have a duty to help those that are affected by problem gambling – that may only be 1-2%, but 1-2% of the US population is still a lot of people! So having an algorithm helps you, to some extent, with providing that support.
It’s important that this safer gambling support is a part of the regulation, but we shouldn’t be placing obstacles which could prevent a company’s growth – instead, we should be promoting sustainable growth.
There are very few operators which act without regulations being introduced. We know that from Europe as well – the main driver for new operators wanting to talk to us is the introduction of new regulatory requirements. These new regulations don’t necessarily incur additional costs or require more resources. If you can automate this process, which we are able to do via our solutions, you can enhance your safer gambling support. I know that for a fact, due to high tax rates in Denmark, we need to be very efficient because employees’ salary levels are equally as high. It has to be more automated, more efficient, more accurate.
What can we expect from Mindway AI over the next few months?
We attended the SBC Summit North America event to take the first steps in our expansion across North America, but also to maintain our ongoing relationships. We are deploying the GameScanner with a major US sports operator. We are also learning more about the interests and needs of the US market and the US operators within different states. We are using this to determine what functionalities are needed so we can further develop our product for the US market,
We are also starting to build more in-person relationships. I will be back at G2E in October so I’m looking forward to getting the ball rolling over here in the US, even though it’s still kind of early days.