New Research Aims To Use Customer Payments To Identify Problem Gambling

Written By Nicholaus Garcia on March 30, 2023
Study Analyzes Customer Gambling Payments Behavior To Identify Potential Risk

Responsible gambling research continues to develop as Problem Gambling Awareness Month comes to a close. But a new study aims to use customer payment behavior to try and help identify potential problem gambling behavior. 

Conducted by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas International Gaming Institute (IGI), the comprehensive study identifies various payment behavior clusters from data provided by Sightline Payments.

Sightline is a leading digital payments provider and mobile app developer for the US sports betting and casino markets. 

Using player payment data to support responsible gambling efforts

According to the research, IGI’s Payments Research Collaborative studied data from gambling payment companies to better understand how payment behavior can support responsible gambling efforts.

In a statement, Dr. Kasra Ghaharian, Senior Research Fellow at IGI, said:

“As digital payments have helped fuel the immense growth of online sports betting and online casino, understanding how digital transaction data can identify potentially harmful behaviors is critical for helping people wager responsibly.” 

Sightline provided data from nearly 100 million transactions across the full spectrum of gaming options. Payment transactions submitted came from:

  • Online casinos
  • Mobile sports betting
  • Pari-mutuel horse racing
  • Lottery
  • Cashless gaming at casinos

One goal was to see whether or not researchers could differentiate between thousands of customers by using transactional data. The result showed: “Over 88% of customers exhibited patterns of behavior that were not suggestive of any unsustainable or harmful behavior.

Within the remaining 12%, researchers found three clusters of behavior that exhibited payment behaviors that may represent customers who are at potential risk of experiencing harm.”

IGI researchers used deposits and withdrawal variables to describe each customer’s payment behavior. Some, but not all, of the variables used include:

  • Frequency of deposits or withdraws
  • Amount of money
  • Time of day
  • How often deposits were declined

Las Vegas International Gaming Institute study results

Researchers then used a machine-learning algorithm to group similar customers based on these payment behaviors. As a result, the following clusters were identified:

  • Two clusters highlighted the supermajority matching existing research showing most individuals gamble responsibly without experiencing harm.
  • 1.2% of the sample exhibited a high volume of deposits and withdrawals. This group also showed high variability in their deposited amounts. Given the high variability in the amount deposited and overall high net spend, these customers may engage in unsustainable gambling behaviors.
  • 2.5% of the sample had the highest deposit activity, with an average of 15 deposits per week. These customers had the highest number of declined transactions. A potential red flag that might indicate their frequency or amount limits were reached.

Omer Sattar, Co-CEO & Co-Founder at Sightline, said:

“Sightline’s collaboration with IGI and Dr. Ghaharian on this study is critical to understanding the role that payments play in identifying problem gambling markers of harm. This research will serve as a foundation to build next-generation solutions that help identify customers who might have issues with their gambling behavior.”

Ghaharian said she was thankful for the chance to work on such a meaningful project. “I want to thank Sightline for the opportunity to work on such an important project. These findings will be critical for building interventions for people who have or might develop a problem.”

Photo by Playin USA
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Nicholaus Garcia

Nick Garcia is a senior reporter for Playin USA. Garcia provides analysis and in-depth coverage of the gambling industry with a key focus on online casinos, sports betting and financial markets. Garcia has been covering the US gambling market since 2017. He attended Texas Tech University as an undergrad and received a Master of Arts in Journalism from Columbia College Chicago.

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