Data Science Investment Counter —Funding raised by UK data science companies in 2018.
£ 5.640 Million

Can Machine Learning Solve Gambling Addiction?

A British company has developed a machine learning platform able to flag up when users of betting websites are about to develop gambling addiction. The same technology can also learn to recognise fraud on banking applications and other similar services.

Conceived within the walls of Cambridge University by applied statistics pioneer Bill Fitzgerald, Featurespace’s core technology ARIC (Adaptive Behavioural Analytics engine) creates a model of how individual users behave, and automatically spots any sudden variation from the norm.

The adaptive technology can be effectively applied to early detection of problem gambling, CEO Martina King explains.

“Featurespace monitors and learns the way you act on a gambling site over time,” she says. “It  will be looking at  different features simultaneously, and it wouldn’t necessarily say that somebody who bets more than they would normally bet is compulsive. Instead, it will compare a user’s current  behaviour with way they would normally play— in other words, compared to their usual selves—and to the typical way everyone else plays.”

Among the behavioural traits ARIC takes into account, King mentions users’ style of gambling, the way they log on, and in general how they interact with the website. She adds that, depending on the feedback received from clients, models can be tweaked to give more or less prominence to certain features.

Besides tackling on baleful compulsions, the platform’s knack for recognising out-of-character behaviours can be leveraged to discover frauds and identity thefts across a vast gamut of fields— from gaming to banking, to insurance and online retail. The company claims that adaptive behavioural analytics software like the one it invented can reduce the incidence of undetected fraud by 25 percent, while also cutting down on “false positives” (genuine transactions flagged up as fraudulent) by over 70 percent.

Featurespace has so far gathered £10.5 million in funding— £6.2 million of which was raised in a Venture round in May 2016. It currently employs 65 people and boasts customers such as gambling websites William Hill and Betfair, payment platforms Vocalink and TSYS and some major American banks.




Co-working space and blog dedicated to all things data science.

Subscribe to our newsletter