What are betting bots/casino bots in online gambling?
A betting bot is a script developed to perform pre-defined actions on a betting platform without human input. These are also called gambling bots, casino bots, or value-betting software. All of these are ultimately used by bettors to ensure a guaranteed profit or to improve their long-term expected value.
Although they are primarily used to speed up betting on sports or other events–typically by leveraging APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), more advanced bots have now made it to online poker tables and other multi-player games.
Betting bots are also used in arbitrage betting, where they scrape all the odds of a particular sporting event and calculate whether an arbitrage bet is possible based on a pre-established mathematical formula. Besides that, betting bots are also used for multi-accounting, odds scraping, and bonus abuse.
Betting bots pose a significant problem to the iGaming industry. Based on Imperva’s Bad Bot report for 2022, the gambling industry displays the second-highest bad bot activity, with 53.9% of websites recording malicious intent. This highlights how crucial it is for companies operating within this sector to take appropriate measures to safeguard their data from cyber threats.
From the bot user’s point of view, one of the primary benefits of using betting bots is the ability to place bets quickly. Their use also removes emotions from the betting process. Furthermore, automated bots can also be customized to meet the specific needs of users.
How do betting bots work?
How a betting bot works depends on its scripted objective. Betting sites can be exposed to anything, from individually scripted automated bots on a single device at a gambler’s home to highly complex attacks on various virtual machines in the cloud.
Scraping bots are sports betting bots developed to scan multiple pages and collect data from sportsbooks. They then use this data to place bets on numerous betting sites. This is among the most commonly-used bots for lone gamblers.
Arbitrage betting, or arbing, is more common with organized cyber criminals. Signing up for numerous accounts, organized groups of bad actors use bots paired with AI to place bets in sports markets where only two outcomes are possible. The value of the wager is decided by the statistics generated by AI and data scraped from sportsbooks. Betting software determines the possible profit against the amount wagered so that numerous wagers bring in a net positive result. In simpler terms, bettors can bet on both outcomes at different sportsbooks and guarantee a profit regardless of the outcome.
Online poker websites are also vulnerable to betting bots or poker bots. By using various fake user accounts, any user can overpower a table and determine the outcome of a game. Bots disguised as players sometimes play multiple hands and utilize sophisticated techniques to boost rewards and ultimately dominate a game. While most betting sites use ways to detect robot betting, cybercriminals have devised more advanced methods to circumvent and evade basic detection algorithms.
Like other business sectors, one of the biggest bot threats to the sports betting industry is account takeover (ATO). Account takeover is common in the robot gambling world, particularly with phishing. Cybercriminals make use of phishing to trick gamblers into offering their details. In other cases, they also buy stolen credentials on the dark web. They then take over accounts and use bots on these stolen user accounts.
Bonus abuse is another way cybercriminals use bots to take unfair advantage of sportsbooks. They use automated account creation to benefit from discounts or new player bonuses on new accounts. If a betting site offers referral bonuses, cybercriminals use them across multiple accounts, ultimately banking them thousands in bonus awards.
Are betting bots legal?
While betting or casino bots are not necessarily illegal, online gaming companies and other players majorly disapprove of and discourage them. Usually, online sportsbooks, casinos, and other platforms specify that betting or casino bots are forbidden under their terms and conditions.
What is absolutely certain about betting bots is that they cost the iGaming industry a fortune. Between December 2018 and March 2019, GVC Holdings’ PartyPoker fraud team deactivated 277 bot accounts, returning nearly £562k ($735k) to players.
How to detect betting bots as a betting operator?
Betting bots typically follow similar configurations and patterns. Operators can use the following techniques to detect betting bots:
- Monitoring traffic for early betting bot detection, i.e., looking for irregular spikes in traffic
- Employing user behavior analysis to detect unusual user activity
- Looking for possible connections between users
- Checking the IP and device data of potential bots
AML and KYC solutions for gaming operators, such as liveness checks and biometrics, can help operators detect betting bots and prevent them from entering their platforms.