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NEW DELHI : Real money gaming companies are turning to technologies like advanced data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence to tackle concerns around the growth of irresponsible gaming in India. While some companies had already deployed such technologies, the demand for them is growing now. The Online Rummy Federation (TORF) has also supported player protection requirements in a call for regulation earlier this month.

“We need to be able to figure out how much a player can play for without going overboard," said Bhavin Pandya, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Games24x7, the company behind online rummy platform RummyCircle and fantasy gaming platform My11Circle. Pandya explained that while platforms can ask for know-your-customer (KYC) documents, they do not have access to financial records the way banks and wallet apps do. “I need to know whether a hundred rupees was too much for a player to spend or not," he added.

To do that, Games24x7 looks for information that can indicate a player’s spending capacity. Correlating data like a person’s phone model, their age, where they are based (combined with third-party demographic data) and more can be used for this. The company uses such data, then compares this with playing patterns on its own platform to figure out spending limits for its players.

“A new person who has the same kind of information, if he spends two-three thousand rupees it’s fine. But if he suddenly starts spending Rs. 20,000 then I have a problem. And I can detect that early, at the point when someone deposits money, and stop them," said Pandya. The company also uses artificial intelligence to profile players and build models based on their behaviour, which are then applied to others to determine the level of risk associated with them.

Further, a “risk rule engine" is employed, which detects variations in a player’s play style. It looks at data points like deviations from one’s existing spending patterns, withdrawal patterns, what sources they make deposits from etc. to gauge risk. For instance, making deposits continuously from different payment instruments is a sign that a person doesn’t have a fixed source of spending, and it is a “tell-tale" sign of risk.

Online poker platform, 9Stacks, also has similar methods. Sudhir Kamath, CEO and co-founder of 9Stacks, said the company looks at wins/losses over different periods of time, preferred stakes, previous deposit patterns and more to determine deposit limits.

Other than advanced technologies, companies also employ general deposit limits and self exclusion features for players. According to one industry veteran, the industry is working on developing a central database of problem gamers. This will help companies track players across platforms without needing to share user information with each other.

Pandya said the industry is also working on a way to centralize self exclusion requests. Self exclusion is a feature most platforms offer, which lets players block access to their accounts for temporary periods.

“There’s a substantial amount of technology being used to look at player behaviour," said Sameer Barde, CEO of The Online Rummy Federation (TORF). “There’s considerable demand (for technology), no questions about it. We (TORF) also have a self-regulatory code, which looks at multiple areas where technology can be utilised to address concerns around responsible gaming," he added.

Companies are also trying to automate the KYC process, in order to eliminate chances of human error. For instance, Games24x7 has tied up with third parties specializing in optical character recognition (OCR) technology in order to verify KYC documents.

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