6 | 2 0 1 8 A C T U A R I A L J O B S E E K E R AMERICAN ACADEM Y OF AC TUARIES
How does what you do now fit in to what you
do/did as an actuary?
Prior to joining the gaming world, we were both
pension actuaries at a large consulting firm.
There is a surprisingly large amount of overlap
in the technical work we did as pension actuaries and in the work we do as gaming actuaries.
For one, many of the mathematical skills that are
required to perform a pension valuation apply
to building and validating the math models of a
game. From an exam perspective, pension actuaries will find that life contingencies are most
present in their work, while gaming actuaries
will find Exam C to be of paramount importance
to their work.
What did you learn as an actuary that
helps you now?
Most importantly, the actuarial exams provided us with the necessary skills to build and
validate the mathematical models behind our
games. The upper-level actuarial exams place an
important emphasis on using credible data and
setting reasonable and appropriate assumptions,
which has proved very helpful in our work as
gaming actuaries. The actuarial control cycle
that actuaries are introduced to in the Fundamentals of Actuarial Practice modules provides
a perfect framework for the models that we create for our games. The rigor that is expected in
traditional actuarial work also is required in the
gaming sphere. The work of pension actuaries
often is subject to review by a regulator, and the
same is true for the work we do in gaming.
What mathematical studies in college do you
recommend for people who want to get into
what you do or other nontraditional outlets?
In our opinion, studying actuarial science
will prepare you well for a career as a gaming
actuary. Take as many mathematics, probability,
statistics, and programming courses as you can.
A few courses in corporate finance and economics also will be useful.
What are your plans for the future?
There are very few actuaries in this space, and
we hope to have a long career as gaming actuaries. As the industry evolves, there is an expectation that games will become progressively more
complex. New slot machine games are beginning to incorporate elements of skill that require
well-thought-out assumptions and stochastic
modeling. The mathematical models supporting
games are becoming more and more difficult
to solve. Ultimately, we hope to be pioneering a
new field for the actuarial profession.
Please take me through a couple of real-life
scenarios—challenging gambling-related things
that you and Bradley have had to work through.
Our day-to-day work requires us to build mathematical models for a particular electronic or
lottery game based on a concept approved by
our Creative Committee and to monitor actual
results gathered from the field that we use to
validate our models. Sometimes actual results
can deviate from expected results. This can be
a result of three events: chance, an error in the
programming of the game or the mathematical
model, or our players have found a way to compromise the game. Credibility theory helps us
quantify the likelihood that unexpected results
are a result of chance. Errors in programming
or mathematical models can occur as a result
of differing interpretations of the game rules;
we try to catch these errors by running large
simulations of both our simulation code and the
actual game code. Players finding a way to compromise our games can be extremely dangerous
to our company’s bottom line; our best bet at
minimizing losses is to keep a close eye on the
results and to act as soon as we have credible
Why did you decide to be an actuary?
Like most actuaries, a love for mathematics and statistics drew us to the
profession. Being an actuary is a great way to put our analytical skills to
work solving interesting and challenging problems.