Earle Hall has a long history in the gaming business, mostly as the inventor of several innovative table games and table bonuses. His new company, AxesAI, is dedicated to blockchain and artificial intelligence in gaming.
As the vice chairman of the International Gaming Standards Association, Hall is keenly aware of the technological challenges facing the industry today. He spoke with GGB Publisher Roger Gros at his offices in Las Vegas in March.
GGB: You’ve just been appointed vice chairman of the International Gaming Standards Association. What does that mean to you?
Hall: I’m really scared right now. We’re heading into a quantum world. Quantum computers are not so rare anymore; you can buy one for $35,000, which means I can pop in and out of networks, I can put a spider or crawler on top of a server, and I can get out without anyone ever seeing me. We’re going into a phase of technology that, in my opinion, is the scariest we’ve ever seen, because we’re the most decentralized, and the ways of being intrusive inside of a network now are infinite. I’m very scared about what operators are going to go through over the next three to five years unless we can implement blockchain technology that will create the highest level of security and bring in a standard for ethical behaviors.
Isn’t blockchain as hackable as any other security system?
I’m not into absolutes, but I’m going to say a proper blockchain technology is much more secure than any other network technology we have today. What blockchain does—and I’m not talking about bitcoin, I am so not a fan of bitcoin—is that it inserts passwords inside of every single transaction. Those passwords have to match up to make a change in the information inside of any transaction. And remember, these are private transactions, not public. When you say “public” to me, I run away, because I cannot control the information residing in that network.
Why hasn’t blockchain been embraced already, if it’s so secure?
Blockchain is a new technology. It’s only been around for three to five years. And no technology ever really takes hold unless it’s been around 10 years or more. Right now, we’re in the phase where everyone lost their initial investments and they’re scratching their heads (laughs). But the core technology is still moving along.
Blockchain is confusing because 80 percent of the people who try to explain it don’t know what they’re doing, but that’s normal, because it’s new. Remember in 1997, when everyone was an internet consultant but didn’t know how to log on?
Do regulators understand blockchain?
Surprisingly, many of them do. At last year’s international regulators conference in Jamaica, I was blown away by the level of knowledge of some of the regulators from Australia, Africa and especially three or four in Europe.
The wave of regulators with blockchain knowledge is growing quickly, because they see that blockchain is more risk-averse than the way they’re doing things right now.
How would blockchain aid the industry to encourage responsible gaming?
Blockchain is capable of looking at literally billions of pieces of data. My company collects data from more than 50 countries now, and it gets very deep. If you’re in a casino and having a great time, you’re getting that adrenaline rush that makes you feel great. But once you go into a cortisol response—a “fight or flight” response—it means that what’s happening in the real world is not meeting your expectations. Like an animal, you’re going to fight to survive or you’re going to run to survive.
Inside of our database, we’ve found a pattern in every single country—speed of click, change of betting pattern, and then change of machine. We’ve got seven parameters that identify this. I don’t care who the player is, when I see the pattern, I know something is wrong, and we can do something about it.