Tech Developments for the Gambling Industry to Watch for in 2017

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The development of new technology is constantly altering the possibilities for companies to provide different or better services. Whilst some options may not work out, the impact of integrating improved tech has the potential to be a huge bonus to a company or even an industry as a whole.

Consider the computer. Thomas Watson, president of IBM in 1943, famously said: "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." In the modern world it is almost unthinkable that a business would be run without the aid of computers. Likewise, the advent of mobile phones led to the development of smartphones and now it is estimated that there will be over six billion smartphone users by the year 2010. Developments in technology are bringing a whole new level of connectivity and opportunity.

The gambling industry changed considerably with the coming of the internet, with online gambling taking off and companies competing to carve out a piece of the new market. Likewise, with smartphones becoming commonplace, the development of apps opened up a new avenue to explore.

In more recent years, a number of innovations have arisen that have the potential to cause the same disruption to the gambling industry. Some can already be seen disrupting other industries and there are start-ups utilising these new technologies making waves in the gambling sector. Most of these areas bring an increase in efficiency, open up new markets or provide more opportunity to develop and improve a company.

The rate at which these new technologies are being employed started off slowly but have risen steadily and, due to the benefits they bring, stand to become commonplace in the near future. This trend can be seen more readily in some markets, such as financial, where the technology was originally aimed at, but other markets are coming to realise the same disruption.

Blockchain: This new technology was initially created to enable the bitcoin cryptocurrency which would remove the need for large financial institutions such as banks. The potential from implementing blockchain solutions is being realised in almost every market, from healthcare to insurance and especially finance. There are already a number of gambling start-ups leveraging blockchain technology to provide improved services, and some using cryptocurrencies as payment options. Blockchain is a decentralised, distributed ledger – meaning no central authority is in charge and, depending on the type of blockchain, it can be open to all people. Some of the big draws of blockchain include:

  • Security – the blockchain is essentially providing an un-hackable network for business to be conducted. There have been many reports of hacks of bitcoin in the news but none of these have actually been issues with the blockchain, they have always been with exchanges or other services that are not using blockchain.
  • Immutability – when data is entered onto the blockchain it is not possible to alter it. This is of huge use to people such as auditors and means that data on the blockchain can be trusted not to change.
  • Transparency – besides providing a censorship-free platform, this also allows anyone to investigate or verify the information on the blockchain at any time.
  • Disintermediation – by being a secure, immutable, transparent platform, the blockchain removes the need to trust third parties to give various assurances – removing middlemen and making many processes more efficient. Using a blockchain enable peer-to-peer connectivity for any number of applications, including investment, betting and payment.

Smart contracts: These are a development from blockchain technology which allow processes to be automated in the secure and trustless environment of blockchain. Using smart contracts, autonomous decentralised applications can be run, and even decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs), designed to be run without human management.

AI: Closely tied with the idea of decentralised applications and DAOs is artificial intelligence. Using AI allows for the automation of processes in order to increase efficiency or free up resources for more valuable efforts. AI can also be used to process data for use in development, regulation or other areas. One example of AI being used to save time and effort is through the implementation of chatbots. These can respond to queries from customers, sparing the need for human interaction, and in the case of encountering issues they are not able to help with, can alert and transfer to a human advisor. There are however, many more uses for AI devices, and some have made big waves in gambling by beating world-ranked players in games of skill such as poker.

IoT: Another development to keep an eye on is the Internet of Things. This refers to the network of connected devices which will change information and data to connect all areas of life, from shopping to healthcare. With the growth of smart technology and its increasing importance to everyday life, the amount of data available about people, and potential customers, will skyrocket. Careful collation and analysis of this data will allow companies to identify the best routes for development and to come up with new ideas for products or services that consumers will be interested in.

It is highly likely that there will be considerable overlap between these technologies as they become increasingly integrated into our day-to-day lives. IoT will almost certainly require some form of blockchain for security; AI will be needed to sift through the large amounts of data from IoT but will also be able to learn faster with the increased information it will have access to. Companies which are up-to-date with developments in these technologies will be better prepared to take advantage of the change.