UK’s Betting Shop’s Gambling Machines Fitted with RG Software
Installation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) software has been installed on gambling machines in the UK. The software, which spots addictive behaviour, forces players into a break if it detects a player is chasing losses or playing erratically. The Anonymous Player Awareness System (APAS) constantly monitors play and will stop the customer playing for 30 seconds while displaying a responsible gambling message.
The update, which was launched by the newly created Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) will also detect if a player has spent too long on a machine or if the customer plays a succession of games rapidly. In that case, a cooling-off period will be enforced, and a member of staff notified.
The roll-out of the software has been performed on 8,500 betting shops in the UK with William Hill, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power machines being initially targeted, BGC hope other operators will also embrace the idea which could become the model in the future.
The APAS software has already been used in bookmaker shops, the software monitored customers who logged-onto personal accounts and would take previous problematic gambling behaviour into account when analysing play, but the upgrade enables the software to monitor activities, whether the player signed in or not.
The bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, who is an anti-gambling campaigner is one of the voices questioning how effective the short break imposed on the consumer will be. Admitting that the proposals were a “first step”, Smith questioned whether a 20 or 30-second break would be sufficient and called for an independent academic review of its effectiveness. He also questioned why online operators were fighting regulation tooth, and nail yet was heralding their efforts on the high street. Smith said;
What we have seen so far, however, continues to put the onus of responsibility on the consumer and not on the industry who are then free to create and then promote addictive gambling products.
What we have seen so far, however, continues to put the onus of responsibility on the consumer and not on the industry who are then free to create and then promote addictive gambling products. – Dr Alan Smith, The bishop of St Albans
Smith’s thoughts are echoed by Mark Griffiths, who is the professor of behavioural addiction at Nottingham Trent University. Griffiths called the introduction of the software a “step in the right direction but needs to be monitored and evaluated”. He also revealed that his team had been investigating whether an enforced 90-second break could curtail problematic gambling behaviour. However his team found the break caused “no significant effect” on either the total amount waged after the warning, nor did they see any significant decress in the amount of playing time.