The gambling industry, especially its online gambling branch, represents one of the fastest-growing fields when it comes to both reaching massive annual revenues and implementing the latest achievements of the IT world. It has been following the same path of progress since the invention of the earliest, mechanical-based slot machines, which were based on the latest technologies one could find in the field of mechanics.
A true revolution was witnessed when the first computer-chip was brought to the public, which quickly found its place in the gaming industry, as well as in the casino industry. Probably the greatest impact of a computer chip implementation was seen in slot machines, which transformed from outdated mechanical ones to modern video slots. A standard video slot chip was usually carrying an algorithm named the “Random Number Generator” (RNG), which represents a kind of a video slot “brain.” Its task is to produce a totally randomized series of numbers, and each of them corresponds to a certain combination a player will see on the slot machine display. And exactly this RNG is the key point of converting slot machines from purely mechanical to semi-robotized devices!
With the invention of the World Wide Web and its implementation throughout all inhabited continents, a special form of gaming began to emerge – online gaming. The gambling industry was also affected by such technological progress, creating space for a new kind of casino to overwhelm the market in the years to come – the online casino! And probably the main reason why online casinos became so popular very quickly lies in the fact that players are now able to enjoy their favourite games from the comfort of their own home, by using their PC! You can even play EGT free slotsand other games on mobile!
Online casino games are purely RNG-based. Each hand combination in Poker, symbol combination in online video slots or each number/combination in online Roulette is pre-determined by the Random Number Generator. This algorithm ensures a 100% randomized gameplay, decreasing the chances of misuse or fraud to a minimum! Through time, more and more algorithms were implemented in online casino games, such as the one controlling virtual players, popularly known as “bots.” They were the closest form of human-like gambling behaviour until recent years.
Machines vs Robots
However, in the past decade, we did not witness a massive breakthrough in the world of online gambling. Casino games are getting better when it comes to the design, graphics, user interface experience and such, but this concerns only the appearance of the user interface, so it can be considered as a kind of “makeup.” The essence of all casino games (excluding the Live Casino section, with real-time human dealers) is still the Random Number Generator. And although it does its job perfectly, it still cannot make real-time decisions or modify them according to real-time conditions on its own. It still depends on fixed parameters placed in the algorithm, which is the main characteristic of a machine as a term.
On the other hand, a robot can be a form of a machine, or it can take some humanoid form which is based on complex algorithms. They allow it to approach and perform complex tasks in a similar logical way a human person would do, as well as to modify its “behaviour” in real-time and mimic various human activities. And there is surely no way our old pal Random Number Generator could process such complex operations all at once, is there?
Robots, AI & Casinos
You’ve probably already heard of terms such as AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning. They are the missing link the robotics industry has needed to level up and begin developing true robots, the ones we are used to seeing in sci-fi movies. The hardware was already there, which can, for instance, be seen in many creations by one of the most reputable robotics company, Boston Dynamics. All it was needed was the software – the brain which will power these mechanical creatures pushing them so close to the human race like it was never done or seen before!
Online gaming/gambling was one of the first branches accepting innovative AI and machine learning technologies. One of its infinite possibilities is reflected in improving the user experience. One of the ways to do so is to collect data about the player’s favourite game types and later use it to personalize the homepage, putting those specific types of casino games in front. And it’s just one, probably the simplest form of AI implementation in online gambling. AI and robots can take roles in various casino-related activities, such as:
- Virtual players
- Various monitoring activities
- Robot dealers
By implementing AI and machine learning in online casino games, one of the end-results would be much “smarter” virtual players! The main difference between old-fashion and AI-based virtual players would lie in the fact that the first ones possess only pre-determined (fixed) patterns of behaviour, while the second ones would be able to modify their decisions and actions in real-time, according to the ongoing situation, and based on all data collected up to that particular moment!
One of the main issues customers are often complaining about is not being able to get their drink quickly, as well as having to wait in lines to get one. Although more powerful and sophisticated, a human brain of a normal adult person simply cannot take so much information and process it all at once. That is why some casinos, such as the Encore Boston Harbor, have started implementing robotic and AI technology to make drink serving a more efficient process. This particular casino started replacing human bartenders with robotic drink-dispensing machines named “Easy Bar.” Such robots make waitresses not so bartender-dependent anymore, which speeds-up the process of pouring new drinks.
For years, casinos have been using human “pit bosses” to walk around tables and observe the players, their bet amounts and rewards won in order to rate the player and determine the value of comp points to be awarded to him. This way had many flaws, among them the inability of the pit boss to track more than several players at once. Some players even found a way to cheat the system by increasing bets only when the pit boss is observing.
Nowadays, casinos are tracking player’s bets and rewards through RFID technology implemented in the chips! The newer generation of such chips represents a form of robotics, while it ensures not only stolen chips to be traced back but also they provide all needed info to the “profile” of the player by determining his betting habits and behaviour patterns.
The implementation of AI and machine learning has opened a whole new sphere in online gambling – robot dealers. A Hong Kong-based casino software developer, LT Game, which operates under Paradise Entertainment Ltd., has announced and displayed a planned prototype of a robotic casino dealer back in 2015 at the Macau Gaming Show. However, a period of silence came along, and it is not before 2019 and the MGS Entertainment Show that a new LT Game-powered robot dealer prototype was presented to the public. It was given the name “AD2V LT Intelligent”, and it is currently under testing and licensing period planned to be deployed to multiple overseas casinos. The prototype is able to shuffle and deal cards as close to real humans as possible without AI, and it is said to be even more efficient with AI implementation.
The main goal of developing such a robot is to fight back the lack of manpower the majority of casinos is experiencing in the last years while keeping the fun in the gambling process at the same time.