It seems that soccer (or football) is taking the world by storm. Nearly every continent is obsessed with football, and the growth in countries like India and the US has proven that the ‘beautiful game’ is here to stay. The more popular football gets, the more favorite teams are chosen, and the more bets are made. In all the fervor, one company is seeking to capitalize on the power of AI in the betting world around football games.
Stratagem, a UK betting company, is hoping to take some of the guesswork out of predicting the outcomes of football matches. Their current business model includes a group of 65 analysts stationed around the globe that are concentrating on collecting and analyzing data to produce predictions on future outcomes. The future model, however, is focusing on using AI and computer vision to do the same work without human error. In order to achieve this goal, they’ve been programming neural networks to observe football matches and analyze circumstances that generally result in goals. Technologically, the company is employing some cutting edge AI tech, using computer vision to watch the football matches and analyze the potential scoring opportunities.
The helpful thing about football matches is that the score is generally low, and the goal chances are relatively predictable. As data is fed into the machines, they begin to predict the chances of goals to greater and greater degrees, as well as predicting which teams produce the greatest number of chances. With all this data, they hope to attract investors willing to fund their betting plans. They’re pitching this as an ‘investment opportunity’, though some are skeptical. AltFi research company director David Stevenson retorted, “I don’t particularly doubt it’s great fun if you like sports and a bit of betting. But don’t qualify it with the term ‘investment,’ because investment, by its nature, has to be something you can predict over the long run.”
While detractors may voice concern, there are many who see this change as an important movement in the betting world. If Stratagem is able to deliver marginally better results while at the same time saving money in employee and analyst cost, it will have a leg up on other betting companies. That’s the hope for the company, as they analyze football data. “We look at what created that situation. We try to take the randomness out, and look at how good the teams are at what they’re trying to do, which is generate goal-scoring opportunities,” says CEO Koukorinis.
AI won’t eliminate the need for human employees. The company will still need feet on the ground to meet and build relationships with clubs in order to gain important information about starting lineups, etc., but the data and team analysis can be automated to a point where human interaction might even prove counter-productive. Whether Stratagem is onto something with this model remains to be seen, but if the betting world begins to take notice, football may lose some of its thrill.