In the same way that scientific analysis is revolutionising coaches’ and athletes’ understanding of their play, intelligent data is informing gambling predictions. Sports betting, usually a game of educated guesswork and subjective opinions, is shifting towards a life of algorithms and automation. With machines getting smarter by the day, is artificial intelligence putting the very nature of sports betting at risk?
Brazil is the outright bookies’ favourites to win this year’s 2018 Russia World Cup. AI studies from Goldman Sachs have predicted success for Brazil after emerging the favourite from over one million simulations. Team strategy, the performance of individual players, and recent team results have contributed to the data that has informed these AI predictions.
AI is still in its infancy, with programmers working to improve security and accuracy. In gambling, there is a huge motivation for criminals to manipulate the business with false information, making AI a liability. Another drawback is that algorithms can only glean from quantifiable observations- and sports are not just about stats. Games are frequently defined by player dynamics, emotions, and the behaviour of individuals. Human intelligence must be used in conjunction with AI, in order to recognise unmeasurable factors, such as body language and facial expressions.
Unanimous AI, a startup, leverages AI alongside “swarm intelligence”: a technique that harnesses the average opinion of fans. A recent Oxford University study put swarm intelligence to the test by asking American soccer supporters to predict the outcome of all fifty Premier League games. When acting as individuals, their average accuracy sat at 55 per cent. When colluding as a swarm, their accuracy shot up to 72 per cent.
AI is geared up to enhance the gambling experience, making forecasts more accurate, so predictions are validated, not undermined. People win big when they bet against the grain. With the odds strengthened, consumers can make informed decisions, so the number of people placing bets is likely to increase. Humans still have the edge over AI, so go with your gut, and you could win big. For now, gambling is still a game of luck.