Gambling addicts could be helped with the use of consumer tracking information developed by the casinos, Harvard researchers say.\u00a0 However, the CEO at\u00a0 Caesars Entertainment worries about taking the technology to "extremes." With the ringing sounds of slot machines wafting up from the casino floor below, researchers at a recent Las Vegas convention on gambling and risk-taking presented an algorithm that shows the potential for casino data to identify problem gamblers. Sounds like a conundrum, right? Consider this. If an algorithm analyzing casino customer data is able to identify those with a potential gambling problem, couldn\u2019t this mean casinos would be shutting the door to some of their most lucrative customers if they started using such technology? Results from other research questions show estimates that 25 percent to 50 percent of casino revenue may come from problem gamblers. Couple this with the fact that the casinos could readily identify such potential gambling risks and such data-mining algorithms are likely to be definite turn-offs for many in the industry. This is the consensus of the research summarized in The Wall Street Journal. Indeed, the article quotes\u00a0Gary Loveman, CEO of Caesars Entertainment Corp. (who also happens to be a former Harvard Business School professor), saying that the technology \u201cis a terrible idea.\u201d "Is it McDonald's obligation to decide you have a problem because you have a tendency to eat high-calorie lunches? You could take this to ridiculous extremes," Loveman told The Journal. But problem gambling is a growing phenomenon. While most people can gamble responsibility, there are an estimated 6 million to 8 million problem gamblers in the U.S., according to the National Council on Problem Gambling. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) recognizes excessive gambling (that is, gambling in its most extreme form) as a behavioral addiction. What Systems Look For The systems being developed to enable casinos to predict problem gamblers looks at the following data: \tLength of play \u2013 Gambling for long stretches of time. \tIntensity of play \u2013 Increase in the number of bets placed or rapid pace of playing. \tChasing losses \u2013 Trying to recoup gambling losses by increasing the size of the bet. \tBehavior changes \u2013 Here the pattern to look for is gambling with larger stakes or for long periods of time. \tWin\/loss patterns \u2013 Demonstrating an unwillingness to take small wins (or small losses). \tTime of play \u2013 An increase in late-night gambling is riskier. \tMoney management \u2013 Adding money to an account in the middle of play may indicate a problem. Industry Push-Back Gaming industry officials counter with the fact that they spend millions of dollars funding research projects to address gambling addiction. Many casinos have instituted efforts on their premises to identify customers in obvious signs of distress and by allowing customers to have the casinos bar them from play. With all the considerable data casinos already gather about their clients, developing detailed player profiles they use to market offers to them, casino operators contend that there is nothing in the information that allows them to spot a problem gambler. Limitations of Behavior-Tracking Systems Systems that track gambling behavior aren\u2019t without their critics. Some researchers say that data derived from land-based casinos is partly limited because it can only use betting data from customers who opt in to the casino\u2019s loyalty programs. Where behavior-tracking systems may be useful is in the burgeoning online gambling sites, say other researchers. These sites collect copious amounts of data from each player, including, but not limited to, size of bets and time of day. Whereas online gambling used to be illegal, several states have passed laws permitting online gambling. And addiction experts are rightly concerned about such easy online access to gambling, saying it only increases the risk of addiction. In the end, no amount of breakthrough technology can overcome resistance on the part of the gambling industry to make use of it for the purposes intended. When it comes to intervening with their best customers, there\u2019s little incentive for some gambling companies to do so, even if they make a half-hearted attempt to use the behavior-tracking systems.