It’s the final day of Neosurf’s takeover of iGaming Daily, supported by Optimove, and the theme once again is Player Protection.

Andrea McGeachin is joined by Kasra Ghaharian, Director of Research at the UNLV International Gaming Institute, who details how he went from a poker player to a gambling researcher.

Kasra starts by explaining how the International Gaming Institute is split into three sections.

The first section, which he heads, is responsible for research or in Kasra’s words “studying everything and anything to do with gambling”.

The other two sections are responsible for educating about gambling and also facilitating students developing their own products for the gaming industry which can then be showcased to people in the industry.

Kasra added: “Our Center for Innovation, headed up by my colleague Dan Sahl, is probably the coolest program we have. He has this course where any student that has an idea for a new game, whether that’s a slot machine game or a side bet on a table game or something, can come to his class and take that idea from just an idea into a fully-fledged prototype and then companies come in and bid for the best games and students leave the class with millions of dollars in licensing fees and stuff.”

Kasra also touches on how he ended up at UNLV. Originally from England, he became interested in online poker while at university and moved to Las Vegas to work in the industry before studying for his PhD at UNLV.

He says that he realised being a professional poker player “was maybe not the best move” which is why he chose to study gambling instead.

In the second half of the episode, the conversation turns to Kasra’s latest research.

He starts by explaining the concept of behavioural tracking data, which is any gambling behaviour that can be tracked via digital methods and how he is trying to use this data to identify trends in consumer behaviour from this data.

His current study is part of a payments research collaborative sponsored by Global Payments and Sightline and aims to categorise consumer behaviour based on a range of data points.

So far the research has found that 12% of the population studied demonstrated “atypical behaviours” compared to the general population.

He said: “There was one cluster defined as a very kind of high deposit frequency cluster, but they withdrew a very small amount of money. There was another cluster that had very high volatility in the amount they deposited. 

“The other cluster was characterized actually by a large volume of deposits and withdrawals while they deposited a huge amount of money, which might be an indicator of harm if you want to call it that. But at the same time, they withdrew almost 70 % of the amount they deposited so they’re actually winning quite a lot of money, perhaps, and withdrawing that back onto their card.”

Ep 283: From poker player to gambling researcher, with Kasra Ghaharian