Microsoft Bing Predicts and the future of gambling

bing predicts
Bing Predicts produces accurate Predictions
for the 2015 NFL week one playoffs

Technological advancements have meant vast changes in the casino landscape over the past two decades and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the latest technological beast to affect gambling in Las Vegas.

Microsoft’s AI engine, Bing Predicts, has been making headlines after beating Las Vegas betting odds by correctly predicting the winners of the first week of the NFL season. This however is not the first time that Bing Predicts has been successful, in fact, last year it correctly predicted the results of every game in the World Cup held in Brazil, and this year it accurately predicted almost all of the results of the Academy Awards. It seems that Microsoft’s AI is turning out to be an exceptional tool for making betting recommendations, and the consequences will be felt well beyond the sports betting arena.

So how was an Artificial Intelligence engine able to outwit some of the world’s best sporting minds and turn the world of professional gambling on its head? It’s all in the design. The basic premise of Microsoft’s AI relies on the “Wisdom of the crowd“. This means that not only does the AI engine rely on an algorithm which factors in variables such as player statistics, margins of victory in previous games, stadium and weather conditions etc. but it also considers aggregate sentiments of social media quantified as data to give it an edge over the so called experts.

The latter part of the formula is what seems to be the secret ingredient, and by tapping into the multitudes on Facebook and Twitter, the AI can detect subtle intangible factors that human statisticians usually miss. For example, there may be rumours circulating on social media platforms that a particular football star had a fight with his girlfriend and was later seen out drinking until the early hours of the morning. While this information may be unfounded, there is often a central truth to many rumours and the algorithm factors these types of things in giving it a statistical edge.

According to Walter Sun, head of the Bing Predicts team, in analyzing this type of information and factoring it into their predictions, Microsoft has increased the accuracy of its forecasts by 5%.

5% may seem like a very small margin but as any player knows, if you can beat the odds by 5% every time, this can earn you a fortune in wins, and this could spell trouble for the bookies. It also broaches the question of whether professional sports’ gambling has a future in a world where AI corporations hold the highest hand.

The concern is not just limited to Las Vegas and International sportsbooks, there are a number of industries that are essentially founded on forms of gambling…think the finance industry, insurance industry and stock markets…could an algorithm beat their models and threaten their livelihood? If so, we could be looking at a future dominated by a few major tech corporations who end up competing with each other on who can develop the best algorithm.