Show me the money—at the kiosk, on a card, or a virtual wallet, but show me now.
And keep it safe.
That’s the fine line vendors balance to address gaming customers’ funds access in the world of high-speed, high-stakes business.
The products to address them evolve in several areas. If it’s a kiosk, manufacturers can provide value-added gems like a camera, or an enhanced compliance capability. The product must prove its worth in the fight for valued floor space.
If it’s an e-wallet, make it compatible with both brick-and-mortar and online functionality. Online gaming development may be slow, but it’s going to grow.
If it’s a printer, tie it in with a kiosk. Let the customers reconcile finances quickly.
Security remains paramount. Remnants of counterfeiting again made an unwelcome presence in August, this time in Atlantic City and Louisiana. A North Carolina man admitted bringing millions of dollars in counterfeit poker chips to use in a casino poker tournament. The scheme was uncovered after the man clogged a pipe by flushing the chips down the toilet in his hotel room. In Louisiana, a man set up a printing press in his hotel room, only to be flagged by security.
Good Vantage Point
Cincinnati-based Vantiv brought a high-profile reputation into the gaming world. It handles $23 billion of annual transactions and services retail giants Wal-Mart and CVS, among others. Vantiv provides the connectivity for anyone using a card to fund gaming purchases.
Two years ago, it created Vantiv Gaming Solutions, which has become Vantiv Entertainment Solutions, reflecting the company’s intent to help casinos, iGaming, lottery and social gaming operators build strategic pay programs.
“We entered the industry with eyes wide open,” says Joe Pappano, senior vice president and managing director of Vantiv Entertainment Solutions. “We have been able to use four-plus decades of experience to successfully navigate the bringing together of two complex industries in gaming and payments.
“When we entered the gaming space, we really spent the time and had the discipline to learn about the complexities facing the industry. We were well-conditioned to know that there was going to be a lot of heavy lifting to help educate all the key stakeholders, regulators, legislators and others to really help create a seamless experience that protects the integrity of transactions in a secure way.”
In facilitating all parties, Vantiv helps properties understand the security process and perhaps gain a better perspective on their players.
“Within an isolated data payment warehouse, we have the ability to bring a solution the gaming industry has never seen,” Pappano says. “We can now fully understand behaviors and how they associate with a consumer. We can augment the customer profile to get more depth of understanding of specific buyer behaviors, loyalty factors, costs of acquisition and predictive analysis based on trends, as well as understand peak times of spend and share of wallet.
“We now can pinpoint how to optimize a player and what motivates him or her to conduct a transaction and walk into a casino. We’re also able to tie that information to enhanced data points like device ID, geolocation and identity management.”
Pappano say Vantiv can create a single view of the customer, while the casino has typically had an abbreviated version. His company has data from over 1,500 financial institutions and one of the largest data analysis organizations that bring in data points.
Besides gleaning the data from technology spreading across other businesses, casinos can utilize America’s appetite for the card. Pappano says Americans spend $4 trillion a year using card devices. Consumers in the United States also represent an estimated 25 percent of the world’s credit-card business.
“That instant-gratification, frictionless experience has been highly effective in the marketplace,” he says. “Consumers want to have the same experience across the board. Why shouldn’t they have that same seamless experience in the gaming industry? As we build on the successes in the industry, card devices like credit, debit and prepaid will be the dominant instruments used to fund wagering accounts. These trends continue whether the economy is in a bull market or not.”
Where does gaming fit into that perspective? Right in step with other industries.
“The gaming industry is identical to many of the industries in the marketplace today—in-person retail, e-commerce, etc.,” Pappano indicates. “They all address similar challenges and have similar opportunities. For example, there is card data security. How do you protect the integrity of the transaction? We’re also trying to achieve and build on a seamless customer experience as well as address the EMV mandate coming in October (the payment networks’ liability shift associated with EuroPay, MasterCard and Visa—among other items, the mandate pushes industry coordination to transactions involving microchip and PIN numbers, rather than swipe and sign, in assessing fraud liability).”
History suggests past challenges have strengthened all parties concerned, Pappano says.
“If you take a look back at the origination of U.S. internet gaming, one key has been the build-out of sound infrastructure,” he says. “Look at how all the processes and framework have been put together—it’s been bulletproof. Look at Visa and MasterCard, where they were in 2012 and now in terms of MCC codes for permissible legalized gaming activities.
“We have made tremendous movement with not only the card issuers but also with the game regulators. We work closely with them—helping them to understand the complexities of the payments industry and how we are going to lead them to find safe, secure and innovative solutions.”
On the Money
Las Vegas-based DiTronics, which handles nearly $3 billion annually, or about $7 million a day, offers its new DFS 500 kiosk to the Indy 500 pace of gaming.
Jim Kirner, DiTronics senior vice president of sales and marketing, says the properties already crunch numbers weighing the value of a kiosk against a slot machine on the valued casino floor. Some kiosk benefits must be tangible, like check-cashing, ATMs and cash advance capabilities, along with the library of over 70 reports that aid in the compliance area.
The value-added segment comes from new features. DiTronics recently closed deals in a couple of states for the new kiosk, with special features including a camera for surveillance, ticket-printing capability and an interface to casino management systems and player tracking. The DFS 500 provides software enhancements for ticket redemption, bill breaking, ATM, cash advance and check-cashing transactions.
The software add-ons 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.
These software enhancements helped close the recent deals, Kirner says. While the tangible benefits of a kiosk address capability, the intangibles regard speed, which translates back to money.
He offers jackpots as an example. In the traditional sense, a player wins and a waiting period ensues. The attendant comes over, the game has down time and forms must be filled out.
“Our feature allows an attendant to go right to the kiosk, process the win and actually get the funds,” Kirner says. “Let’s say I have a royal flush and a $4,000 jackpot. Typically, the floor attendant has to go get the cash if it’s not in his pouch. We eliminate the need for an attendant to have to carry the pouch and the delay that would result if he did have a pouch, but not enough money in it to pay the jackpot. Instead, he can go to the kiosk, find the jackpot pay, process it and get faster response times for the player who won the money, and reduce lines (and aggravation) at the cage.”
As for the player, a quick jackpot payout increases, if not preserves, his time on device. If one hits big and waits 20 minutes to get paid, he may decide to stop.
Past thinking regarded jackpot payouts as a chance for dealers to earn tips and for a casino to garner publicity for a high payout in exchange for down time on a device.
Vendors counter by saying technology frees employees to perform other tip-gaining tasks, while the casinos keep the pace of play rolling. Their viewpoint has been endorsed by operators, who believe the speed of play maintains revenue, keeps customers happy and may, in turn, produce tips for that reason alone.
Kirner says other innovations like currency exchange work well in border casinos between the United States and Canada. Smart Dispense provides the right denomination to sections of the gaming floor, reducing or eliminating the need for big bill breaks. Again, speed.
Everything to Everyone
Global Cash Access has changed “Everi” thing. In the most public financial forum, no less.
Company representatives rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange in late August to proclaim its new name, Everi Holdings, and new ticker symbol EVRI. Ringing the bell is considered an entrepreneur’s dream, and in the case of a company changing names, an advertisement before the entire financial world.
Recent bell-ringing participants include the Howard Hughes Corporation, the WWE and the U.S. Open tennis organization.
In Everi’s case, one part of the company became its new identity. You remember the name. Under the GCA banner, Everi was the award-winning wallet featuring innovative payments and monetization solutions for real-money online gaming. In its entirety, the wallet gives operators a flexible tool kit of solutions that allows players to interact with casinos anywhere in the world.
It complemented the kiosks GCA used in the brick-and-mortar world. GCA was known for distributing $20 million in cash, serving over 1,000 gaming establishments and having 85 million transactions annually.
Well, the online innovation has become the company’s money line.
What’s in this new company’s “wallet?” Its future.
Ram Chary, president and chief executive officer of Everi, says the transition to the Everi brand reflects the belief it will deliver gaming, security and intelligence solutions to casino operators along with engaging games and transactional security to patrons.
It has been some ride for the Las Vegas company. Last year, it acquired slot manufacturer Multimedia Games for $1.2 billion. But Everi wants to do more than place money in machines. It wants to own the machines.
Cummins Allison, based outside Chicago, is a leading innovator and provider of check, currency and coin-handling solutions, as well as full-function ATMs.
Casino finance business is not only about speed. It’s about space.
“Gaming properties are looking to invest in cost-efficient, back-room technology—such as currency-handling solutions—to elevate time-consuming manual processes into more efficient tasks,” says Bob Gibson, vice president of branch operations for Cummins Allison. “Whether it’s smaller batch sorting and counting in the cage area, in the banks, or in the soft count room, today’s currency-handling solutions can streamline the process for faster and more accurate results.
“With an all-inclusive currency processing solution, casinos can not only prepare their deposits quickly and easily, but they can also archive and manage their check images, process currency and even process and image tickets—all on one machine,” he adds. “Combining these functions into a single device not only saves space and costs associated with maintaining multiple pieces of equipment, but makes employees more efficient, enabling count room and main bank workers to be more productive and cage cashiers to accommodate more players.”
The company has unveiled the JetScan IFX i400 Multi-Pocket Sorter and the JetScan 4100 Currency and Ticket Sorter into the market.
The pocket sorter is a highly configurable design that allows three, five, seven and nine pockets in a vertical configuration and up to a 17-pocket horizontal orientation. Casinos can realize substantial time savings by using this single, innovative device that can now process and sort mixed tickets and cash on a desktop multi-pocket sorter at a rate of up to 1,000 documents per minute—39 percent faster than the closest competitive unit, company officials say.
Its unique design can create up to nine pockets in a space-saving vertical configuration, utilizing significantly less space and effectively providing a high-volume, multi-pocket sorter in a footprint barely larger than a desktop sorter.
The innovations have never been more important. As congested markets shave revenue margins, shrinking the lines that clog a casino’s financial artery has become more necessity than luxury. In the age of touch-screen casino-hotel checkouts, bar-coded airline boarding passes, mobile-app gaming and Uber, customers don’t ask for speed in business operations. They demand it.