OPTX’s Steve Bright On How Casino AI Isn’t Robots Coming For Your Job

OPTX AI solutions cut down on busy work for casino managers

With ChatGPT dominating the headlines, it is inevitable that OPTX Vice President of Data Science Steve Bright has to correct a lot of misconceptions about what exactly artificial intelligence is and what it can do.

“I think the pop culture, popular view of AI is from the Terminator movies,” he said with a laugh. He’s right that most of us conceive of AI as robots that decide they want to overthrow humankind. This notion, also called technological singularity, may be on the horizon someday, but Bright isn’t too worried about it.

“Latest I’ve heard is that the people who like specialized in this field think it happens sometime around 2060. So not really my problem, right?”

Bright and OPTX deal with a different sector of AI altogether, and it isn’t one with aspirations of supplanting casino workers and world domination.

“What we specialize in are various weak AI tools and weak AI. Doesn’t mean you can’t really
do anything cool, weak AI just means that it’s suited for a very specific domain like a very specific set of problems, and, within that domain, weak AI can do really awesome things.
You move it out of that domain and it’s totally useless.”

There might be this view that AI is going to take people’s jobs in some way or is a threat to the human. I don’t really see that happening, at least certainly not in gaming,” he added.

The kinds of things OPTX AI can handle are the kinds of things most people would actually love to have off their plate.

“I think analysts spend a lot of time face-down on an Excel spreadsheet, copying and pasting. You’re typing the same formula over and over again, dragging and dropping, the stuff that, quite frankly, I don’t think they really enjoy doing,” Bright said. “Every potential AI customer we’ve met, it’s not uncommon for them to show you a spreadsheet with 30 different tabs and hundreds of different formulas. They’ll often have to reconstruct that spreadsheet once per quarter.”

What OPTX offers is also a bit different than automating these processes.

“An example of an automated process that’s not AI would be a process that kicks off every 24 hours and downloads data from a website, puts that into an Excel file, and puts it on your website or some something like that,” he explained. “Where AI comes in is that AI can change his behavior based on the data it sees at any given time. AI is basically automation that can react to changing conditions.”

That added ability to react to data means OPTX customers can rely on the product to do more than just scrape the data. It can organize and sort it too, opening up new hours of productivity to analyze and act on the results.

“What we’re aiming to do is take away the math part and the busy work and the Excel stuff off of the human’s plate, throw that at computer because that’s the stuff that the computer is really good at, and that frees up the person to do the actual fun stuff of actually running the casino.”

OPTX offers a range of solutions, including tools to measure and predict the performance of one slot title over another on the gaming floor.

Bright explained how the tech can model performance of a new title and take into account a range of factors, including the cannibalization of the same title elsewhere on the floor, money lost when a certain title is at capacity and in use across the property, and VIP interest in the game.

“With our model, we found that if we only consider the changes that our model has approved, instead of a 50/50 proposition now it’s a 60/40 proposition,” Bright said. “As the client is making hundreds and thousands of these individual changes, they add up and they provide a real statistical mathematical benefit that we can quantify and observe, and that’s a big selling point for us.”

A similar program looking at projected spend of customers utilizes a similarly broad range of factors to more accurately predict what people will spend on site.

“What we have done is we built a model that looks at not just that data, but also the frequency, the intensity of those visits, any sort of trends. They have various other factors and we can use that to let the casino segment players based on their forecasted value, not just their historical value,” he said.

One thing that is true about AI is that with more data points, the better the prediction will be. Currently in OPTX data for each client is completely siloed, but Bright says for 2023 OPTX will create an OPT in program for clients which will allow us to combine and anonymize client data to better the product suite.

“Clients who agree to opt in with their data would be put into a pool with all the other clients who opt into that pool, and we would then anonymize that data. From there we would use that to provide insights and recommendations around performance for themes that a client does not currently have on their floor.”

The future for OPTX and AI in gambling is, well, both bright and Bright and his team. The industry has a good 40 years before the alleged robot uprising, but in the meantime, casinos should be willing and eager to embrace this kind of technology not to replace their workforce but to empower them.

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