AI Already a Tool for Sportsbooks, Touts with Future Balance of Power, Profitability at Stake

They’re out there, in front of a keyboard somewhere, sports bettors and touts attempting to rapidly learn computer code.

Their goal: harness or hone the pattern-finding expertise of artificial intelligence and apply it to either making sharper sports bets or selling these insights to the potential customers who huddle on social media platforms in search of an edge. For a fee.

They’re going to beat the system. So they hope. It’s going to change everything. So they think. And make money. So they keep tapping.

This isn’t new. The medium is just different, a bet365 spokesperson said.

“I think the same issues were raised when sports betting companies went online. ‘There’s going to be ways of beating the system online‘,” the spokesperson told Gaming Today. “There were probably ways of customers back in the day in the UK going into sports betting shops or to bookmakers and saying, ‘You can beat the system by betting two seconds before or watching a different stream.’

“This is kind of the constant battle between those groups of customers trying to take advantage of sports betting bookmakers. So I think you just have to take it with a pinch of salt.”

Bookmakers vs. Bettors: A Constant Struggle for Balance

Max Wright, Chief Commercial Officer of IMG Arena, agrees. But he sees the escalation of tech-aided wagering as inevitable. That makes his company, which collates data from sporting events — notably the PGA Tour — and creates betting markets for operators, a key facet of the process.

“Everybody’s always looking for an advantage. And so inevitably as technology advances, access to AI and ChatGPT and everything that’s going on there is really interesting. And that will start to arm individual bettors or groups of people who are looking to start betting more professionally.”

“Bettors looking to place bets and bookmakers offering bets, there’s always been this kind of competition of who can access more relevant information, then who can process that information more effectively to gain an advantage,” Wright told Gaming Today. “And everybody’s always looking for an advantage. And so inevitably as technology advances, access to AI and ChatGPT and everything that’s going on there is really interesting. And that will start to arm individual bettors or groups of people who are looking to start betting more professionally. That will arm them with a toolkit that helps them in certain situations to place more accurate bets more frequently and take advantage of potential betting opportunities.”

“It used to be that, ‘yeah, I’ve got a betting system. I found the method. I found the golden ticket. And I think for a time, people can be successful with a method, but then whoever they’re betting with will kind of work out and figure out what they’re doing and then may put into place mechanisms to protect themselves.”

Thing is, this won’t be a one-sided game. The gambling industry broadly is already using AI for customer acquisition and customization. And the sportsbook side of the business is absolutely leveraging computer power more than ever to mitigate lines that sharp brains or sharp algorithms on spreadsheets or computers may be exploiting.

“The bookmakers themselves are looking to renew their technology to make sure that they are ahead of any such advances and to make sure that their systems protect them,” Wright continued. “Betting delay periods are designed to protect the bookmaker against sharp money that’s got access to information that the bookmaker hasn’t got, and then to process all the information and to check that nothing has changed before they accept and process the bet. You do see individuals or people coming up with a system now.

“It used to be that yeah, ‘I’ve got a betting system. I found the method. I found the golden ticket. And I think for a time, people can be successful with a method, but then whoever they’re betting with will kind of work out and figure out what they’re doing and then may put into place mechanisms to protect themselves.”

Did YouTuber Siraj Raval Crack the AI Betting Code?

AI educator and YouTube influencer Siraj Rival claims he developed a successful AI sports betting system using a neural network in a video he put in front of his more than 738,000 subscribers. Raval’s bot, built using guidance from ChatGPT, was geared toward NBA betting, and only ran for one day, meaning the two big wins he claimed came in a tiny sample.

But, his code is sitting on GitHub waiting for anyone willing to try it, or update its source information to expand WagerGPT to more sports like the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

“These apps that I make, whether it’s the AI dating coach or the trading bots or the sports bettor, they do make money,” he told Gaming Today. “I basically have multiple passive income streams from these. I’m not saying that they are evergreen. They last anywhere from like a week to several months. And like all things, they require maintenance and attention and energy to continue to bring return.

“Where I want to focus my attention is on education of other people. I get more excited when other people make money. I know that’s a weird trait, but I guess my idol in that sense is MrBeast, who’s the biggest YouTuber in the world.”

At least one practitioner of WagerGPT was pleased. AI-sports-betting-winner

DR3AD3D96 did not respond to an interview request.

AI Can Help Identify Suspicious Gambling Patterns, Corruption

Another crucial use for AI is in safeguarding the integrity of sports in a world increasingly awash in gambling opportunities, legal and otherwise. AI’s pattern-identifying capabilities make it perfect for the task. Sportradar, a Swiss data and sports monitoring service said in a sports integrity report in March that “the AI model developed by Sportradar for its {Universal Fraud Detection System] in 2022 directly identified 438 suspicious matches (36% of annual total), leveraging the vast amount of data the company already has on suspicious betting activity and reflecting the important role that technology can play in the monitoring process.”

More: NBA Betting Promotions

Said Sportradar Integrity Services managing director Andreas Krannich in a release: “Our technology enables us to monitor more matches on a deeper level, providing more precise and accurate insights to help aid partners, clients and the wider sports industry in efforts to safeguard sporting events from corruption.”

Gambling Companies Await Coders With Sharp (or not) Bets

bet365, one of the largest revenue-generating gambling companies in the world, is assessing how AI can be deployed for customers but expects to lean on partners like IMG Arena instead of bringing the tech in-house.

“Any kind of brand at the moment who isn’t really keeping a finger on the pulse of these kinds of modern advancements is going to suffer in the long run,” the bet365 spokesperson said. “We were really strong on in-play, in-game betting 20 years ago. It took some of our rivals five, six, seven years to kind of catch up. We can’t let any kind of rivals or even competitors or even non-industry competitors [get ahead] because if customers see that a brand in a completely different sector is offering certain advancements or offers, if we can’t do the same, then actually it brings a real disadvantage. I think longer-term it’s something that every brand will have to consider pretty heavily.”

Meanwhile, the touts keep hacking on Python. The game continues.

“You’d like to think that while there may be ways around it in the future, we’ll be combining [AI] as well,” the spokesperson said. “So I think it’s exciting, actually. It actually makes me smile, just kind of thinking about it. As tech advances, so almost are our ways of protecting our brand. So I think it could be a very interesting one.”

About the Author
Brant James

Brant James

Senior Writer
Brant James is a senior writer who covers the sports betting industry and legislation at Gaming Today. An alum of the Tampa Bay Times, ESPN.com, espnW, SI.com, and USA Today, he's covered motorsports and the NHL as beats. He also once made a tail-hook landing on an aircraft carrier with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and rode to the top of Mt. Washington with Travis Pastrana. John Tortorella has yelled at him numerous times.

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