Slowly, inexorably, funding floodgates open for gaming operators.
Casinos find new revenue streams from debit cards, mobile-phone access and retail shopping to augment brick-and-mortar ATMs. They also generate more transactions, helped by suppliers easing regulatory issues with compliance-based product features that target fraud.
Even the speed of disbursement increases, as ATMs, kiosks and mobile technology work together.
Big rewards greet those who serve this intensified market. During the season of G2E, with industry power brokers convening, companies offer new looks into their lineup. Their theme for funding: make it available, make it easy to attain and make it safe.
Payments Pay Off
Las Vegas-based Everi Holdings encompasses the payments, games and intelligence realms.
And the payments are hot.
That sector was credited for a whopping tripling of stock-market shares over the last year. Everi Payments is a well-rounded collection of integrated solutions and kiosks bringing next-level transactional security to the casino floor. These components reduce the risk of fraud, increase patron accessibility to funds, and ease potential operator stress due to compliance and reporting requirements, company officials say.
“Our payments business continues to grow as we listen to the market needs and implement innovative, efficient, secure and compliant ways for players to access cash,” says Tim Richards, the company’s senior vice president of payments and innovations. “Everi was the first to provide the industry with an EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa)-compliant cash access product. Implementing compliant standards has allowed our customers to reap the benefits of greater approval percentages, higher transaction sizes and reduced fraud.
“By being first with this technology, we have been instrumental in assisting with the writing of EMV standards for our specific transaction types, and also building out the technology to continue delivering on the unique payment types and processes associated with gaming.”
The company has not rested upon its accomplishments. As G2E dawns, several new aspects greet the industry.
“We are excited about introducing our next-generation full-service kiosk, with security features that are unmatched,” Richards indicates. “We are also launching mobile cage products that will allow players to stay at their game while they withdraw funds for continued play, with the transaction still being completed by cage employees. And our wallet, which integrates with our CashClub and Xchange products, has been enhanced for improved ease of use and adoption for casino players.”
Richards says Everi’s focus has evolved in the last couple of years. It now integrates varied product lines to harness the power of the entire company. Previously, it acquired companies but focused on improving each individual product.
“This allowed our individual competitors to compete with us on a per-product basis,” he asserts. “Today, we focus on the combination of our products and information. This strategy creates powerful products that can deliver extraordinary benefits to our customers. It also forces competitors to compete with Everi as a company, across our entire product line.”
Everi’s strategy includes increasing funds to the floor. One of its tools is a CashClub patron application to allow gamblers access to their payment profile. The profile stores card and bank information and includes a wallet to hold funds. This allows the player to prepare sources of funding prior to a visit to a gaming establishment, access funds in different ways and be able to stage transactions from the phone, allowing instant cash dispense at kiosks.
Instant identification and validations are completed through the use of Everi’s own databases and third-party services. All relevant transactions are also written directly to its Everi Compliance system. To provide this offering, Everi integrates its CashClub application, wallet, ATM and UXC kiosk platforms, compliance applications, compliance analytics and proprietary gateway service.
Operators welcomed Vantiv, the Cincinnati-based, multibillion-dollar merchant-service giant, a couple of years back. Its entry to the industry signaled gaming’s large looming upside via the new realm of card transactions.
Vantiv’s presence in the ATM and cash access sector has been significant. The company further indicated its gaming commitment by becoming a partner with Sightline Payments.
“We are quite bullish as we move into 2018,” says Joe Pappano, senior vice president and managing director of Vantiv Entertainment Solutions. “There has been tremendous movement in terms of our relationships with the card issuers, system providers, networks, associations, alternative payment solutions and functionality related to wallets, and the ability to push funds in real time. An industry that has been so cash-reliant for so long finally has an answer to simplifying the consumers’ experience and converging their gaming and non-gaming activities.”
Pappano says Vantiv integrates partnerships in the casino market, combining disparate points of interactions from point-of-sale systems, ATMs, kiosks, online platforms and cash-access points. Security is a major catalyst for Vantiv, and major credit-card companies will soon up the ante.
“There are a number of innovative technologies surrounding biometrics to properly identify a customer, including MasterCard’s pilot on the facial recognition front,” Pappano says. “We are confident that MasterCard’s product will be available in the very near future and technologies like it will become more popular in the years ahead. There are many enhancements taking place in the industry, which include offerings from Visa (3D Secure 2.0—Verified by Visa). All of these technologies extend, tremendously, the aggregation of many data points to credential a consumer when conducting a transaction. When all of this occurs, Vantiv still plays a critical role in facilitating a seamless and secure process which protects the integrity of the transaction, the consumer and the brands.”
How innovative is this trend?
“Incredibly innovative,” he says. “The more data and accessibility we have to better understand who the consumer is, the better for everyone. We’re seeing great enhancements surrounding device fingerprinting, geolocation services, knowledge-based authentication and predictive patterns in terms of detecting behavior in where and what is purchased. You tie this technology to the enhanced data surrounding 3D Secure, biometrics and the various innovative fraud services and it’s truly insulating and evolutionary. All of this helps to combat fraud yet still promote a frictionless payments experience.”
While security enhancements remain paramount, Pappano touts the marketing and promotional elements enabled by Vantiv’s Data Science. It literally provides a vivid operations picture.
“We’ve started to produce a solution which can be customized for specific gaming operators,” he indicates. “We call the product Vivid Data Engine. It is centered on data science, predictive analysis and consumer trends to understand the DNA of your customer by truly leveraging all of this ancillary payments data that allows you to enrich the persona of a customer and make better business decisions.
“We are big on understanding consumers, and know they spend about 8 percent to 10 percent of their discretionary income on some form of entertainment, whether it’s lottery tickets, downloadable content, in-venue entertainment, going to an NFL game, visiting a local casino or participating in daily fantasy sports,” he adds. “Gaming entities want to know their fair share of entertainment spend and how they can generate more from a specific consumer. That is what Vivid Data Engine and our data science solutions bring to the market—in-depth knowledge of behaviors.”
Omer Sattar, co-founder and executive vice president of strategic initiatives for Las Vegas-based Sightline Payments, has seen foresight rewarded. About five years ago, Sattar annexed the resources of Vantiv to broaden the reach of his Loyalty Plus product, now known as Play+.
Vantiv is a mechanism Play+ utilizes to empower customers to use a debit or credit card to fund their accounts in real time, from a mobile device, online and on-site at various touch points, Sattar says. The Play+ domain spans both online and brick-and-mortar elements.
“The information that Play+ can deliver to a property operator is unlike any other data that they have or have seen,” he says. “They can build an entire profile on me based on credit card information that has been used to fund Play+. It’s like layers of an onion—they know where I like to shop, where I like to dine, how often I travel somewhere, etc. With our partnership with Vantiv, you can really start mapping things out.”
Sattar says the number of Play+ accounts is well into six figures, and over 30 programs are already launched with some of the biggest gaming operators in the United States.
“We launch roughly a new program every eight to 10 weeks,” he says. “We think the next level is going to be with table games. How do you interact with them? We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how we can leverage the existing hardware infrastructure deployed at tables and use that as an access point for delivering chips at the table.
“One example works in the same way that Starbucks does. You have your mobile device, and say you want $200. We will approve your $200 through your Play+ account, and generate a bar code just like the Starbucks mobile app does. And, the hardware in the table includes a bar-code reader. You’d sit at the table, scan your bar code and have $200 worth of chips at your table. That’s a clean user interface and experience.”
Sattar says there’s a great deal of cash access outside of gaming that needs to come to the industry.
“Look at what Wells Fargo launched nationwide recently,” he says. “You don’t need a physical ATM card to get money. What that means is that you can use your mobile device, go to an ATM and collect the money. ATMs become collection points—the actual transaction and authentication is done on your mobile device. We believe similar technologies can come to gaming, taking one more layer of friction out.
“Another technology that has been out there for a number of years, which is coming to gaming, is like taking a picture of a check, which deposits to your bank. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do that theoretically with a TITO ticket at a casino too, and have it deposited back into your Play+ account.”
A Track Record
Las Vegas-based DiTronics completes its second decade serving casino operators who require ATM, cash advance, check cashing guarantee and multi-function ticket redemption kiosk solutions. The company says it is the largest privately held provider of funds access solutions to the gaming industry, accommodating more than 100 casinos in the United States. DiTronics indicates it typically invests over 25 percent of its cash flow into research and development, trying to stay ahead of the industry’s demand curve.
The company has grown rapidly in the past five years. Beyond customer service, it incorporates the concept of gaming-floor competition.
Operators scan the casino floor and ask what value-added functions a product provides. Kiosks occupy prime real estate, the gaming floor area, where a revenue-generating slot machine might be more attractive than an ordinary kiosk. Operators seek bang for the buck, giving a kiosk the same need to compete as a casino employee. That requires a product durable and not oversized.
Company officials say a ticket redemption kiosk providing a “concierge service” is an imminent trend. Casino guests will be able to purchase show and concert tickets, make future room reservations, adjust current room reservations, book restaurant tables, order take-out from in-house restaurants, or order room service, cabanas and spa appointments.
DiTronics uses the ultra-reliable Glory platform for its hardware, and provides systematic software add-ons.
Two of its major products now are 4-in-1 multi-function kiosks, the DFS 200 and DFS 500. They support ticket redemption, bill break, ATM transactions with cash dispensed by the kiosk, and credit card and POS debit card cash advance authorizations. The kiosks are supported by DiTronics’ monitor and control system, providing data security with real-time backups and a minimum five years of data storage. This saves its clients from maintaining on-site servers, and either performing or having to schedule software updates.
The company touts several features of its kiosks.
Bill Break allows the ability to customize the bill break mix by kiosk, by zone or by casino floor. This reduces wear and tear on the kiosks.
The Jackpot Pay application can be provided by DFS 200 and DFS 500. This feature reduces attendant cash in pouch, cage payouts and cash on floor by combining ticket redemption and jackpot pay in one device. Capital investment is reduced by combining functionality in one machine, saving floor space.
The Cash Advance platform provides a seamless funds access experience through credit and POS debit transactions, officials say. Players may initiate both credit and POS debit transactions on its ATMs, ticket-redemption kiosks or directly at the casino cage. It offers electronic signature capture with ACH funding for all transactions.
In the check-cashing realm, DiTronics guarantees payment of all checks processed by its check system. Limits are set based on a rolling seven-day window.
What a time to service the gaming industry. From cards and connectivity to kiosks and software, a boom period exists. The strategy is a version of connecting the dots, bringing players to their money, with speed and safety.