Author: Sebastian Scheplitz
iGaming is a massive, lucrative, and constantly growing industry. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that expansion into global markets is an essential aspect of every iGaming brand’s growth strategy – at least those that are worth their salt.
The stakes are high – and no iGaming brand is in the business of leaving money on the table. There are multitudes of potential new customers just starting to explore iGaming’s finest online casino and sportsbook offerings, and they’re located in every part of the world.
That’s precisely the reason why iGaming brands are pivoting towards these new markets and making their websites accessible to international players using professional iGaming translation and localization services.
After all, the more localized and accessible your website is, the higher the potential traffic and revenues become.
That said, translation is a critical aspect of business, and most companies need to improve intercultural communication with their customers.
Often, iGaming brands localize their content by hiring a freelance translator or an online casino translation agency. In recent years, as iGaming brands become aware of the increasing need for content in different local languages, machine translation has emerged as an alternative to human translation services.
And it’s evolved fast as the world moves towards its eventual digitalization. It’s led to a “debate” as to which approach is better for translation.
That said, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of machine translation. As usual, we’ve prepared an overview video of this topic for our busy bee readers:
The Case for Machine Translation
The €41.65 billion ($49.6 billion) language services industry, translation and localization included, is not exempted from the onslaught of technology.
This has led to the emergence of sophisticated machine translation technologies like Google Translate, which boasts a user base of over 500 million individuals (and counting). That’s half a billion people all over the world.
And why not? Machines create produce results faster than humans ever will. Translation tools or software can deliver projects in a fraction of the time a human translator might.
Another reason machine translation tools are widely used around the world is that many of them are free services, making them cheaper from a strict dollar-and-cents standpoint. This explains Google Translate’s massive popularity worldwide. 500 million users can’t be wrong, after all. Or can they?
The Case Against Machine Translation
While machine translation technologies have evolved immensely, they have one significant limitation: the quality of the translations machines produce will always fall short when translating more complex industry-related language with linguistic subtleties and terminologies, as is the case within the iGaming industry.
As we’ll see, machine translations have several flaws, particularly when it comes to translating content meant to be read. As advanced as today’s machine translation technologies are, they still cannot translate the all-important aspect of context.
The likes of Google Translate or the Bing Microsoft Translator, or even just the one on your phone, are great to ask for the way to the train station, to get an overall grasp of what an article is saying, or maybe even to score a date on Tinder in a foreign country.
But real context is not their forte, which means that they will produce errors – continuously. And don’t even get us started about grammar.
Translation errors can cost your brand far more in potential revenues than opting to go with human translation in the first place.
Here are the most compelling cases against machine translation:
1. Inability to Interpret Culture
Every culture worldwide possesses unique lexical terms, slang, and colloquialisms that machines haven’t shown the capability to translate yet.
Furthermore, some terms may mean one thing to one culture while meaning something completely different in another. Machines, thus far, cannot detect these subtle nuances accurately, rendering their translation always lacking that extra flair.
There are countless languages where one particular word has different layers of meanings in different layers of context. Let us give you an example.
In Italian, the word “riso” stands for “rice” in English. Hence the ubiquitous risotto, the delicious rice dish originating from Lombardy. However, “riso” is also the past participle of the verb “ridere,” which means “to laugh” in English.
Meanwhile, in German, the word “Leiter” can mean a wide array of various things, from leader, manager, and supervisor to ladder and circuit.
Context is key, pal. Words change meanings when divorced from their context. Remember: the word giveth and the context taketh away.
2. Inability to Translate Context
Foreign languages contain words with more than just one meaning, making them a serious challenge for machine translation tools to overcome.
That’s because they cannot interpret the context in which a particular word is used, and technological limitations allow for machine translations to produce only one meaning at a time.
And when it comes to translating iGaming content using an online tool will not end well, considering the vast universe of unique, contextually specific gambling terms that each language might have for a particular game.
Ten times out of ten, the resulting translation will be divorced from its original interpretation.
Let’s take some examples from our ebook “Why Germans Bet on Football and the English Love the Horses” (that you should definitely download if you haven’t yet):
For the phrase “Play Now,” for instance, the contextually correct translation for a sports betting site in German would be “Jetzt wetten!”. This would only work for a sports betting site because the natural choice of phrase for a casino would, in fact, be “Play Now!” or “Jetzt spielen!”
In Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian, on the other hand, “Play Now!” could well be used for both casinos and betting sites. (That’s “Spil nu!” in Danish, “Spela nu!” in Swedish, and “Spill nu!” in Norwegian.) However, the literal translation of “Bet Now!” would not work for either kind of site, as it would sound awkward or outmoded in all Scandinavian languages.
3. Machines Cannot Keep Up With Evolving Trends in Language
Languages constantly evolve, and machines simply cannot keep up with the pace with which they do. Machine translation tools require constant improvement and programming to maintain their algorithms, which takes a tremendous amount of resources.
4. Inability to Translate Style and Tone
Every piece of the written word has various styles and tones that can be employed. Content can be persuasive, neutral, or friendly – and machines cannot distinguish between tones and styles.
Machine translation tools lose the original author’s intended tone and may result in producing a translation devoid of any engaging qualities.
5. Lack of Human Touch
There’s no doubt that artificial intelligence is constantly evolving like it never has before. Machine translation output has become more and more understandable and efficient. But thus far, AI hasn’t shown the potential to outperform human intelligence in the realm of translation.
Human translation goes through a time-tested process of multiple editing and proofreading to ensure that the translation isn’t only grammatically correct and readable, but always enhanced for the target audience.
And quite frankly, this is where the main difference lies between machine translation tools and human translation – and why machine translations will always fall short. Local references, linguistic quirks, culture, and context can always be perfected to suit the intended audience, regardless of the language.
The complexity and idiosyncrasies of languages can only be understood through the human lens. There is no debate to be had about machine versus human translation when it comes to providing a superior result for iGaming brands or any brand for that matter.
Here is a comparison chart to make things more clear:
But before we go any further, have a red pill: translation is much more than just learning random words in a different language from a dictionary. It’s more than just stringing together sentences and running them through Google Translate. No, translation is much more complex than it appears. Every language has its own way of using grammar, word order, and figures of speech.
While there is a place for machine translation software within the broader context of communication, they can only supplement – not supplant – human translators.
The benefits of human translation in the iGaming industry are immutable. In the end, only a professional translator can accurately nail the context in which words can and can’t be used.
Professional translators are infinitely better equipped than machines to determine linguistic nuances and language variants (check out our article on Localizing in Latin American Spanish for more on this), making them the perfect lens to convey your iGaming brand’s tone to meet the needs of a changing industry.
They are the perfect agents to ensure that your brand creates error-free iGaming content optimized – or “optimised” if it’s for your British or Australian readers – to deliver the best possible result to any segment your brand wishes to target.
Granted, there are a lot of things machines can beat humans at – but translation isn’t one of them. For the time being – humans win.
How did you like Sebastian Scheplitz’s blog post “5 Reasons Why Machine Translation Can Cost You Far More Than Humans Ever Will”? Let us know in the comments if you have anything to add, have another content idea for iGaming blog posts, or just want to say “hello.” 🙂