Harnessing AI, Efficiency and Growth for Operators, Interview with Edvinas Subacius Chief Data Officer at Rootz

Few tech innovations in the iGaming industry have had the potential to cause as much disruption as AI. With the ability to completely automate some of the most competition critical tasks for an organisation, AI promises to be a revolutionary tool that can help drive our industry to the next level.

Some iGaming leaders have already implemented aspects of AI into their operations and are already reaping the benefits. However, we spoke to Edvinas Subacius, Chief Data Officer of Rootz to find out exactly how else AI can service our businesses, increase efficiency and be a source for future growth.

AI has traditionally had limited use in iGaming, what opportunities are there for operators to make more use of AI within their online casino?

“The term Artificial Intelligence is not very distant from the term Automated Intelligence, which more accurately points us to the source reason of the limited AI use in the iGaming industry.

Many companies have gathered enough insight and developed sophisticated business intelligence processes that rely on partial automation and integration, thus creating a bottleneck in data team human resources, which can be rather costly.

Fully integrated AI gives us an opportunity to improve budgets or staff efficiency as well as raise quality standards in all departments.

The improvement is achieved by removing monotonous human tasks, reducing the chance of human error and introducing new optimisation logic throughout all the business processes.

The sooner we start applying AI in terms of individual player life-cycle stage, the more significant positive impact we can expect. Starting with the very first steps of new player acquisition, online casinos have a variety of choices for traffic optimisation tools that will improve acquisition cost and increase the volumes.

Once the incoming traffic is continuously being optimised by AI, casinos should be looking at ‘data-driven-player-experience-personalisation’ which will further increase the lifetime value of acquired players by distributing the right type and value of the promotional material through the best channel at the optimal time.

Having these two complex processes supported by automated decision making would show the most significant short-term results in terms of cost management and revenue, however, there are many more opportunities to make your online casino a better place to work at by relying on automation.

AI tools in Payments, KYC, Fraud and Customer Support areas may not be able to deliver an instant increase in revenues but they will allow the employees to be more efficient and feel more capable which ultimately improve staff retention and revenue per employee, not to mention faster response times for the customer.”

How can the use of AI increase efficiency at a company so that it’s better prepared for threats such as Covid?

“At the beginning of the pandemic, many of us were worried about the same question – ‘how is communication going to work?’ Personal conversations, face to face meetings and knowledge sharing are indissoluble parts of our life that sometimes may consume a disproportionate part of the workday.

At the same time, artificial intelligence is sometimes incorrectly perceived as a threat to humans or their workplaces.

I believe that in this situation online casinos should put employee efficiency first when considering potential AI projects.

Automation and programmed intelligence significantly reduce the amount of time dedicated to maintenance and quality assurance, it also helps structure internal communication and reduce the number of repetitive human tasks – automatically allowing more time for creative work and personal human interaction.

Reducing the dependency of people sitting at their desk in the office and spending time on repetitive tasks, in general, will allow companies to face similar challenges with less stress and more confidence in the future and AI is here to help.”

Is the current industry regulation agile enough to facilitate the full capabilities of AI or is it limited? If so, how can we work together as an industry to change this?

“Some would agree, that regulatory processes may not always easily go hand-in-hand with innovation, especially in the marketing area.

However, I am very pleased by regulatory bodies efforts to facilitate the onboarding and spread of AI tools in iGaming.

So far, increased attention has been focused on the area of responsible gambling where regulators are establishing and continuously improving mandatory player protection requirements as well as introducing automation tools for industry wide real-time data exchange.

I believe that maturity of the aforementioned data-exchange processes and adoption of such practice in more online gaming aspects, particularly payments processing, will be the next big leap in solving payments, AML and KYC struggles.

I am excited and looking forward to more deep cooperation between the regulatory bodies from different jurisdictions, casino operators and third-party software developers for the sake of a more transparent iGaming industry and better protected players.”

Many of the large companies still operate on their legacy systems. How can operators manage the challenge of integrating these new technologies with their legacy systems? Will they need to scrap existing systems entirely or can there be a retrofit?

“Legacy/Monolithic systems can have their advantages and disadvantages.

For example, large software companies introduced extensions for artificial intelligence development and machine learning applications, the result being they are easier to integrate, have a more intuitive user interface and a shorter learning curve compared to open source build-in-house approach – all points are very important for the successful start of AI projects.

In the necessity to remain ready for future challenges, there are also a number of new companies that are building similar tools dedicated to running AI on different legacy systems. In the long run, companies do however need to assess their system capabilities for full-integration without forgetting the rapidly changing business and regulatory environment.

The challenge lies in the complex system infrastructure, real-time data availability and connectivity among different parts of the system or different departments of the company.

As a whole, I believe retrofitting legacy systems will result in much higher project cost and dependency on more human resources, but the same futuristic AI goals can be achieved disregarding the initial state of the system.”

Editor’s note: So, whether it’s budgets, HR operations or KYC, the opportunities for AI are endless it seems.

The ability to remove monotonous human tasks and eradicate human error is invaluable to the iGaming industry. And thankfully, AI is something the regulators are open to, especially in regard to responsible gambling, giving our industry some freedom to innovate, a trend we hope to continue.

The real challenge lies within the process of integration, retrofitting Vs complete overhaul. Both have their benefits and disadvantages, but both require substantial investment. Completely restructuring Legacy/Monolithic systems is not an appealing thought but it seems inevitable if we have any hope of staying ahead of the curve and guaranteeing the future success of iGaming.

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