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At Your Service

Innovative kiosks can multiply good customer service

At Your Service

Kiosks gain significant new relevance.

One of gaming’s most flexible vehicles becomes an important security source this year. New fraud-prevention equipment is the latest upgrade for a device that provides an array of customer services at the touch of a screen. Customers rely on kiosks for expedited casino checkouts, reservations, maps, loyalty-point assessments, promo offers and standard ATM cash-dispense.

Yes, the fabled machines that also disperse funds, break bills, provide electronic check cashing and redeem tickets will serve more than customers in 2016. They will shield operators in the shifting world of theft protection.

A nationwide fraud liability movement, launched last October, changed accountability from financial institutions to merchants who don’t use a chip card. It will extend to ATMs, thus kiosks and the casino floor, in October 2016. A casino operator without a chip reader will become responsible for fraud under the new setup.

The deadline sent panic throughout the industry. Casinos already battle in the trenches of fraud, from counterfeit bills to palmed chips and cut cards. They already need an eye in the sky and multiple eyeballs on the gaming floor to prevent theft. Operators can’t also be on the hook for expensive credit-card abuse.

Vendors acknowledge the paranoia, knowing the price of keeping casino business is to extinguish this looming fire.

Their efforts aim to ensure EMV (Europe Pay, Master Card and Visa) compliance before the October deadline. While companies always highlight the speed of products, the new age also requires protection. Reliance meets compliance.

One Step Ahead

“When the liability shift occurred, there was a big freak-out in the casinos, as in, ‘Who is going to be responsible for this stuff?’” says Jim Kirner, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Las Vegas-based DiTronics, which processes nearly $3 billion each year through its cash access systems and has doubled revenues since August 2013.

“That’s understandable, but in the end, it will be a whole bunch to do about nothing for them, because we will have this covered,” he adds. “Our kiosk has ATM ability, cash advance, ticket redemption, bill break, etc. It is fully loaded. And before October, the kiosks will be EMV-ready. We have been field-testing it.”

Unlike magnetic-stripe cards, which store unchanging data in their stripes, EMV-chip cards generate a new code for every transaction. Cardholders also have to verify their EMV card purchases with either a signature or by entering a PIN.

The fraud liability conversion marks the changing dynamics between business owners and banks. If an ATM fraud via magnetic stripe occurs now, card-issuing banks are on the hook. Once that burden changes, casinos must have products in place.

This is the second phase of a movement that began last year for many businesses. As they became responsible for fraud, smaller, non-gaming properties had to decide whether or not to become gamblers. They can either make a costly conversion via chip readers or “wager,” by doing nothing, that occasional fraud costs less than the new system. Smaller businesses may reason that criminals with stolen cards would likely visit high-end establishments like jewelry stores to obtain luxury items rather than a family grocery store.

Gaming establishments, facing cutthroat competition, have no choice regarding conversion. They need to be in the game, providing funds access, without being accountable for theft.

Companies that serve the operators want to satisfy both ends of the casino industry equation. Before field-testing EMV compliance, DiTronics rolled out the DFS 500 5-N-1 ticket redemption solution, which increased the speed, durability and functionality of casino kiosks. Security aside, operators need kiosks to prove bottom-line worth.

“Operators are looking at their entire casino floor and asking what other values can a product provide for me,” Kirner says. “Regarding a kiosk, you look at the space it sits in as opposed to machines on the floor. People are moving machine counts down to optimize floor space already. They want to know what provides the best bang for my buck. What else can you do for me on that valuable real estate?”

DiTronics uses the ultra-reliable Glory platform for its hardware, and provides systematic software add-ons. They include Transaction Rewards, which integrates funds access with a casino’s player database to provide customized fee structures; Smart Dispense, which reduces wear and tear on the kiosk; and Jackpot Pay, which eliminates the need for jackpot dispense units. Kirner says a casino can save approximately $55,000 in costs for a kiosk and the labor drain of servicing jackpots by selecting a DiTronics software component.

Kirner says DiTronics recently began deploying Transaction Rewards at Southland Park in Arkansas, check cashing in Treasure Island, Minnesota and Jackpot Pay in Oklahoma. It also earned the right to install the DFS 500 at the Peppermill properties in Nevada. It handled ticket redemptions several seconds faster than top competitors, he asserts. A few seconds, multiplied by myriad transactions, could make a property wary of customers being distracted and possibly leaving.

The DFS 500’s existing software will help operators accommodate these customers. The next software product will serve the operators themselves.

The Vantiv Advantage

Cincinnati-based Vantiv, which services retail giants like Wal-Mart and CVS, brought a high-profile reputation into the gaming world. It handles 23 billion transactions and more than $842 billion every year in an enterprise that spans more than 800,000 merchant locations.

Vantiv provides the connectivity for anyone using a card to fund gaming purchases.

The lucrative casino world enticed the company to launch Vantiv Gaming Solutions about three years ago. The outfit later became Vantiv Entertainment Solutions, reflecting an intent to help casinos, iGaming, lottery and social gaming operators build strategic pay programs.

To enhance its gaming footprint, Vantiv must educate regulators and properties about increased security of credit-card transactions.

“One of the positive things is we have the three financial institutions participating in gaming merchant category codes (MCCs) and we are incredibly pleased with that progress,” says Joe Pappano, senior vice president and managing director for Vantiv Entertainment Solutions. “Today, gaming and entertainment experiences are less fragmented, the three largest card issuers are now accepting payments with more ease and the consumer is being protected like never before.”

One might call gaming’s approach a chip off the new block, as chip cards become more prevalent and provide a glimpse into the next realm of industry security.

“It’s new; there are a lot of moving pieces to it, but operators understand it,” Pappano indicates. “They are rolling it out and it has been successful. The challenge is that EMV is not a one-and-done situation. There will be ongoing complexities as it pertains to gaming. As there are continued changes with frameworks and networks, there are going to be constant updates as it relates to EMV acceptance. But thus far it’s been doing what they said it would do—a liability shift from financial institutions to merchants. It’s causing operators to move quickly to limit fraud exposure.

“As for why this is good for the industry, sure, initially EMV is costly to roll out. But in the long run, it is significantly impacting fraud and chargeback losses. Losses for operators in the long run will be cut, and that money can go towards developing new innovations.”

Pappano welcomes the new codes set for ATMs. He says that when EMV is attached to a PIN, fraud becomes virtually non-existent. It has become so effective, he predicts fraudsters will move their operations to a softer target.

“You need a belt-and-suspender game plan in today’s world, meaning tokenization, end-to-end encryption and embedding EMV,” he says. “Everyone thinks, ‘Oh, one should just replace the other.’ That is not the case. My fear, because of the EMV rollout—and this is starting to become well-documented—is that the fraudsters are always going to find a way, so you’re going to see them shift to online.

“The card-present fraud will dissipate, based on the security measures that have been enacted. What’s going to happen is that online fraud will increase dramatically. As a result of that, appropriate security tools that protect businesses online are vital. Card-not-present security is vital, and that’s an area we’re focused on.”

While security and data increase their prominence, kiosks remain a cornerstone in Vantiv’s overall agenda.

“The movement of funds goes back to our core principle of simplifying payment innovation,” Pappano indicates. “That’s why we continue to be engaged on the kiosk front. It should be secure, seamless and a value-added service—embedding that type of innovation within the kiosk truly benefits everyone involved.”

On the lottery side, Pappano says the company sees the proliferation of embedding payments and making the kiosk more dynamic.

“We’re seeing games on top of games,” he says. “Interactive systems that let you do more things with the kiosk itself, while enabling multiple payments, including near-field communication (NFC). A lot of kiosks we are working on, you can walk up to with your phone and make a transaction.”

Although schooled in the cat-and-mouse security game, Vantiv also presents value-added products like its iQ software. It is a simple solution that provides, among other things, credit-card processing reports and snapshots of payment activity. The solution lets operators see both the big picture and important details of their customers’ buying patterns through its SMB merchant payment data and transaction systems.

Big Data is alive and well.

“Data science is a direct result of Vantiv iQ,” Pappano says. “I’m confident with the conversations we’ve had with the different market segments in gaming, that data science will be the heartbeat of how the industry electronifies and grows.”

A Balanced Portfolio

Glory Global Solutions, headquartered in Japan, is a pioneer in the development and manufacture of money-handling machines and systems. It serves the financial, retail, vending machine, amusement and gaming industries in more than 100 countries.

The company stands at an interesting intersection of hardware and software enhancements.

It unveiled the SK 500 in January, increasing its product to two bill validators, a card-reader for EMV compliance and increased capacity for kiosk cash-holding. Many software companies consider Glory the hardware king, the gold standard of kiosk durability, and a good match for its products.

Operators depend upon it.

“What strikes me about the casinos is how the kiosk is mission-critical,” says Peter Wolf, senior vice president of retail marketing for Glory Global Solutions North America. “If a kiosk goes down, it is a big deal. If a customer has to go farther to get cash, instead of going back to the gaming floor, they may leave a property. We have more reliability, I believe, because of our service network. We don’t use third parties. Glory only uses Glory technicians.”

Another area has become mission-critical, he notes. Operators view the new October regulations with dread.

“There has been an incredible amount of angst, confusion, frustration and anger, not only from the casinos, but from the providers,” Wolf says. “What we hear is a cry for help. Standards have changed, explanations have changed. It has not been a smooth transition to EMV. Casinos are looking not only to us, but to software providers to a assure them that they will be EMV-compliant, and then that the regulators will certify all of it.”

While kiosks are at the forefront of that concern, Glory features a new innovation for the back of the house. That’s where its CI-300, part of the Cash Infinity System, is utilized.

The CI-300 cash recycling system consists of a banknote recycler and a coin recycle, offering improved security and reduced cash-handling time in retail applications, during day-open, shift change and day-close operations. CI-300 offers the cashier a quick and easy solution for handling cash in the back office of a retail environment, allowing managers more time to focus on their core business. The cash recycler can both receive and dispense cash.

Kiosk Potpourri

Lest anyone forget the speed angle, Michigan-based Atrient offers custom-developed software solutions and a suite of applications exclusively for gaming operators.

Its PowerKiosk is an extensible workflow engine designed to provide operators with the ability to reward players in new ways. Besides offering promotions, it can be a self-service tool for account management, allowing guests to spend less time in the player’s club line.

PowerKiosk integrates with patron management systems developed by Aristocrat, Scientific Games, IGT and Konami. The PowerKiosk solution also has several modules that are managed through its control panel. The modules include promotional games, virtual drawings, account lookup, comp redemption, casino maps, slot machine concierge and idle-screen digital signage.

The solution is placed in several prominent locations, including the MGM Grand in Detroit, Turning Stone Casino in New York, Casino Del Sol in Arizona and Prairie Band Casino Resort in Kansas.

The company also touts an enrollment and card-printing kiosk. It enables guests to create a loyalty club account or reprint a card in less than a minute.

Enrollment is quick. Done in under 30 seconds, the guest simply inserts their driver’s license and the kiosk scans the ID, captures relevant data, checks for existing accounts, and provides the guest with a new card.

Card reprints are equally easy and fast, company officials say.

It’s only the latest advancement of technology making the kiosk a secure and essential element of casino operations—offering functionality that only stands to grow more important going forward.

Casino Connection Sports Editor Dave Bontempo is an award-winning sports writer and broadcaster who calls boxing matches all over the world. He has covered the Philadelphia Flyers in the playoffs, as well as numerous PGA, LPGA and Seniors Golf Tour events, and co-hosted the Casino Connection television program with Publisher Roger Gros.

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