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Analytics ‘crucial’ to gambling industry

As gambling in casinos and on sports events continues to be big business around the world, players are becoming more sophisticated than ever in how they approach their calculations and this is something firms will have to react too.

The importance of data in this area is understood more than ever before and for many serious betters, this can be the edge they are looking for. CNBC reports that for sports such as baseball, for instance, which is the most stat-heavy sport, algorithms and analysis of figures can be used to accurately predict results.

Statistics professor at Duke University's business school Otis Jennings explained: "People out there are looking for an edge. … The casinos need to do the same, and that's where sports analysts will get hired in Vegas." 

Chief executive at Kognitio Steve Millard told CNBC that at the moment, big data is more likely to be used for fraud detection than sportsbook in the casino industry. However, he noted that as new technologies such as social media – which are not under the tight control of the major sports leagues – become a key source of information, new opportunities to make gains from good data analysis will emerge.

There are several tasks to which big data can be put when it comes to gaming and gambling analytics. As well as fraud detection, close study of information can be used to boost customer loyalty, analyze consumer preferences and provide a differentiated experience. However, human expertise will still be essential.

"Oddsmaking is an old-school craft," Mr Millard said. "You get some sports junkies together and read newspapers and understand variables in the game, prior tendencies, emotions. Football is a gladiator sport and oddsmakers look at it with a human eye and human intuition. Machines can't make these decisions."

Finding a balance between the technology and the human factor will therefore be a crucial part of the strategy for casinos and other gambling companies. Big data analytics and the development of better algorithms for predictive analytics will play a key role in this.

However, Ed Feng of website ThePowerRank.com noted that having skilled professionals looking at this data and identifying the most relevant trends and statistics will be essential. He explained that there is "too much going on" for firms to rely on computers alone.