ATMs and ticket redemption kiosks dot casino floors across the country, and several companies are transforming the way cash-dispensing stands operate.
From check cashing and debit transactions to cash advances and marketing, cash access corporations are turning simple ATMs into sophisticated machines.
Focusing on the Future
There are a variety of new cash access services currently on the market, and more are being released each year.
U.S. Bank first introduced check cashing on ATMs four years ago, and has continued to expand the capabilities of the increasingly standard service due to high demand from casino operators.
“Casinos are interested in innovative ways to reduce demand on cage personnel,” says Paul Nielsen, vice president and managing director of gaming services for U.S. Bank. “They’re also looking for ways to increase convenience for guests. They are looking for ways to increase cash to the floor. This solution delivers all on all of those needs simultaneously. It allows a migration of services away from the cage to the ATM or to the kiosk. The kiosks are located throughout the facility, so it increases convenience. Whenever convenience is increased, there’s potential for cash to the floor to be increased as well.”
U.S. Bank provides check cashing in partnership with Global Payments, a company that offers check guarantee and cash advance services to gaming operators. Nielsen says U.S. Bank and Global Payments are currently developing a new check cashing-related service to introduce in the near future.
Check services company Certegy also offers check cashing on its ECAGE application, which is used by casino cage personnel. The company is currently working to develop the capability for casino patrons to access check cashing on kiosks on the gaming floor.
“We do have the application developed to be able to offer check cashing from a kiosk device on the floor that would work in conjunction with ECAGE, but we are currently in the process of certification testing,” says Mandi Hart, Certegy’s vice president of cash access product development. “We anticipate the product to be available to the market this summer.”
Other companies have developed updated kiosks that provide ATM services and ticket redemption in one machine. Automated Currency Instruments CEO Neal Jacobs says his company’s latest product, the PEK Plus, will be released June 1 with dozens of popular features.
“It’s the next generation,” Jacobs says. “It provides TITO redemption. It provides the cash advance functionality as well as player card enrollment, so that if somebody wants to enroll in the player club of the casino, they can do it right at that unit with a swipe of a driver’s license. We can reissue their loyalty card if they’ve forgotten it. It adds significant functionality.”
ACI is also planning to make ATMs more entertaining for patrons.
“One of the things we’re doing is trying to make the customer interaction at the kiosk more interactive, more involving for the consumer so it becomes part of the entertainment experience in the casino,” Jacobs says. “We hope to be able to show some of that at the G2E show in November. Some of the things we’re going to be doing involve the graphical user interface that the customer sees. We’ll have entertaining displays on the unit to keep the patron interested and entertained while he or she is waiting for the transaction to complete.”
The move toward a cashless gaming floor is becoming more of a reality with the advent of server-based gaming and ticket-in/ticket-out technology. Cash access provider Global Cash Access characterizes itself is a pioneer of cashless gaming, and is soon introducing its latest cashless product, QuikTicket.
“When you play a slot machine, when you cash out, you get a ticket,” says GCA CEO Scott Betts. “When you get the ticket, you take the ticket to the next slot machine, and when you’re done playing, you take it to a redemption device, which we also run, and redeem it. What QuikTicket allows you to do is go straight from an ATM transaction to a ticket. It really eliminates the cost and the potential for fraud and theft of having to cash out at the gaming machines.”
Cash access providers ensure extra security for their financial services, but they also offer precautionary options for problem gamblers.
Certegy’s Gamblers Addiction Intervention Network is an example of a program that allows casino employees to enter problem gamblers’ information using the ECAGE application.
“GAIN is our self-exclusion program, and the users also have the ability to manage and input self-exclusion patrons right into the application itself,” Hart says.
ACI is developing a system that connects a casino’s self-exclusion list with its financial services information to prevent problem gamblers from using cash access services.
“We have been working on a module that would tie in all of the financial services of the casino-whether that is the loyalty club, the ATM or cash advance-into what is known as the ‘do not play’ list,” Jacobs says. “Each casino has them, and we have looked at being able to integrate that into the cash advance system so that when somebody tries to get a cash advance in the casino or get cash access in the casino, if they are on that list, they’ll be politely declined and referred to the cage for further discussion, just in case there’s a commonality of a name-sometimes you’ll have John Smith, then you have another John Smith, and you don’t want to eliminate one person from being able to play.”
Global Cash Access’s self-exclusion program is called STEP, and casino operators can also put players on a “do not play” list via a program called Merchant STEP.
“STEP allows a player or patron of a casino to call or give us the information on their name and who they are and their account numbers and we will block them from accessing any funds in any casino that we process with,” Betts says. “Because we process for such a high percentage of casinos, it’s the most robust system that’s out there right now for allowing someone to self-exclude.”
Catering to Players
Cash access providers are able to exclude problem gamblers, and they also appeal to a casino’s most valuable players by integrating marketing strategies and financial services.
GCA’s Casino Marketing Services product is comprised of a database of players who have used the company’s cash access services in the past.
“We will work with our casinos and we give them the names from our database to do direct mailing, based on any number of criteria,” Betts says. “It could be something like: ‘Anybody who’s been at a casino within a 150-mile radius of this one casino and has withdrawn more than $5,000 in one year-give us all those names.’ We will give those names to a third party who then puts them on mailers and then mails them out.”
ACI provides options for casinos to decrease ATM fees for players with club cards who have accumulated a certain amount of points.
“We have optional modules for casinos that, depending on the choice of the casino, they could opt to reward certain levels of their loyalty card holders with either reduced ATM charges or even free ATM or free cash advance or reduced cash advance charges, depending on the level of the loyalty card holder,” Jacobs says.
“That depends on the casino. That’s a straight tie-in between a relationship that a casino has with the patron and giving them the advantage for using that cash advance functionality at the casino and rewarding them for their loyalty.”