Artificial intelligence (AI) presents significant opportunities and challenges in almost all areas, including the sports betting industry. In this two-part series, DataArt Senior Vice President Russell Karp looks at the most promising opportunities for sports betting in an AI-driven era.

Undoubtedly, AI technology plays a central role in the sports betting industry.

From improving data analysis and odds calculation to improving user experience and supporting responsible gaming, AI stands at the intersection of innovation and user satisfaction.

AI-based customer relationship management (CRM) systems can analyze user behavior, preferences and trends to personalize digital experiences for bettors. This helps sports betting operators gain an edge over the competition while keeping their customers happy.

While the benefits are clear, integrating AI into sports betting is not without its challenges. These can range from security concerns and privacy issues to ethical dilemmas and possible over-reliance on machine-driven predictions, all of which require careful navigation.

Generative AI versus analytical AI

When it comes to integrating AI into your sports betting system, it is important to note that there are different types of AI. The technology ranges from generative AI and analytical AI to open and closed options – more on that later.

Generative AI is characterized by its ability to independently create new content or predictions. This produces output that was not part of the training data. In the case of sports betting, for example, this can involve generating advertising content or simulating potential game outcomes based on complex models.

Analytical AI scans existing data to identify patterns, correlations or anomalies. In sports betting, analytical AI can be used for odds calculations, analyzing bettors’ past performance, or predicting future match results based on historical data.

Additional tools like chatbots can help bettors make better decisions. They also have the potential added benefit of increasing engagement through easy and fun text interactions. For example, a user may inquire about the current odds for an upcoming football match. The chatbot can instantly get the latest odds, relevant stats and team news and provide information to the bettor to make an informed bet.

Additionally, chatbots can engage users in casual conversations, answer questions about sporting events, or even explain betting rules. These interactions can save users time searching for data and keep them engaged with the sports betting platform. This then increases the likelihood of placing bets.

Disadvantages and challenges

As this technology continues to improve, operators should consider some of the significant issues that AI brings to sports betting.

As already mentioned, AI is not just generative or analytical. It is also open or closed. In a closed AI model, the technology’s algorithm is private; a model that some call a “black box.” In an open AI model, the algorithm is open source, meaning that, like open source software, anyone on the internet can access the AI’s learning model.

Open AI could pose a threat to the security and privacy of bettors. AI models can learn and remember specific data points, meaning that if they are open source, users’ sensitive personal information – such as financial data – could be included in the code. This could put bettors at risk. Furthermore, algorithms themselves are fallible. Because they are created by humans, AI models can reflect human biases, which can impact the accuracy of predictions and ultimately the fairness of betting practices.

Therefore, closed AI models are preferred to ensure the privacy of all data that sports betting operators collect and manage. Although open AI is more cost-effective and flexible, closed AI provides security and privacy for all customers and supports your business with tailored solutions.

Ethical considerations and implications for responsible gambling

Unfortunately, the closed AI option is not as simple as it seems. While maintaining the privacy of your users’ personal information, it is possible that a closed AI algorithm will cause bettors to trust your platform less. As a result, what users perceive as a lack of transparency could lead to a decline in customer loyalty over time.

There are also ethical concerns when it comes to AI and sports betting, particularly because their predictive capabilities can inadvertently encourage addictive behavior. By catering to a user’s preferences and habits, these systems can reinforce the urge to gamble beyond their means, circumventing the industry’s commitment to responsible gaming.

Limitations and vulnerabilities

Although AI is created by humans, the algorithm cannot compete with the human side of sports betting, from bettors’ intuition to athletes’ year-to-year (or even week-to-week) performances. AI’s reliance on historical data to make predictions could result in misleading predictions for bettors as it leaves no room for the nuances of human judgment or gameplay. Emotions and situational awareness are key factors in sports betting that cannot be replicated or replaced by AI technology.

To meet compliance requirements and ensure the security of user data, sports betting operators must adhere to data protection regulations such as GDPR. As AI continues to evolve, ensuring sustainable compliance for your sportsbook requires constant attention. This could also be particularly challenging in the US, where sports betting is heavily regulated and rules vary between states.

While AI is indeed a game-changer for sports betting and has untapped potential, it is necessary to identify and mitigate its challenges and risks.

In the second part of this series, I will explore some strategies that sports bettors can use to optimize the capabilities of AI and utilize it to its full potential.