In recent years, cashless gaming has been one of the hottest topics in the industry, and Christopher Justice, CEO of Pavilion Payments, has long been one of the most important figures in that conversation. Ever since Justice first broke into gaming in late 2017 when he became president of Global Payments Gaming Solutions, he’s been an innovator and disruptor in the space. Earlier this year, the company transitioned into Pavilion Payments, and with Justice at the helm, the team looks poised to climb to the top of the cashless race. He spoke with GGB Managing Editor Jess Marquez from Pavilion Payments’ booth at the Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention in March.
GGB:The tribal market is expanding and growing like we’ve never seen. What kinds of opportunities does that present, and how is your relationship with tribal operators?
Justice:(Tribal operators) are very collaborative, and it’s the thought around how you build today while still considering what it’s going to look like and how it’s going to be in the future. So we find that the tribal operators are far more interested to think through and try things that would logically be successful.
How are they going to do things that benefit their guests?
Because that benefits the community, and they really do want to think more holistically about the community, more so than just driving pure profit. However, if we do all of those things right, we can deliver incredible guest services, with safety, security and convenience, coupled with the opportunity for those operators to garner a bigger portion of the player’s wallet and help to satisfy the overall needs of the player’s gaming entertainment value.
Cashless is one of the biggest topics in gaming, but do you think the hype and conversation surrounding it matches the actual progress being made in the sector?
I would agree with part of it, and probably disagree with others. I think to your point, yes, the conversation is at an all-time high. And it’s hard for it not to be at an all-time high when you think about all of us as consumers—forget whether we’re in the gaming industry or not. Your phone is the No. 1 screen in your life. It is the most trusted device that you have. Everything that you do is tethered to your phone—your investments, your banking, your shopping, your research, email, phone calendar, et cetera, et cetera. It is a natural evolution where this industry is going to be able to embrace mobile technology to help drive and deliver significant convenience options as well as improved security capabilities. So certainly, we are tying in well to all of the popular consumer trends that are going on at the moment.
So if you look at a traditional bell curve on product adoption, I think we are rapidly getting out of the early-adopter phase, and we are getting to the fast-follower phase, where it’s that very steep hill that goes to the top of the bell-shaped curve. We’ve got numerous customers that are already in the lab and deploying those solutions, other customers that are going live. I think 2023 and certainly 2024 will be watershed years where that growth and expansion will be significant.
From a regulatory perspective, what do you think are some of the more important safeguards that need to be put in place before cashless can truly blossom?
The biggest conversation relative to regulators is really along the lines of just how to formulate regulations in a way that allows for new and expanding technologies. Because when you consider that the iPhone’s been around since 2007, the App Store’s been around since 2008—most of the regulations that we operate under were written long before that. Nobody ever contemplated that you would have something in your pocket that is as powerful as what you’ve got today.
But likewise, part of the challenge is that when you think about where technology has gone, the things that regulations had to protect against before are now just built into new technologies. When you think about the data security that Google and Amazon have built into the cloud, it is a far more secure infrastructure than what a single operator could deploy locally inside of their own data centers. So I think if we can somehow align the thought processes with regulators to where technology is and where technology is going, we can help them fully embrace things that are going on.
I’ve saved the best for the last—you guys recently announced the transition to Pavilion Payments, facilitated by Parthenon Capital. Can you detail what that transformation has been like, what went into it and what you’re looking forward to?
The partnership that we have with Parthenon Capital is fantastic. They are a top-tier private equity firm. They’ve got deep-seated expertise in this space and are just an incredibly powerful and collaborative partner. They’ve been able to deliver a lot of expert resources to us to help us think about and drive our business in better ways. More importantly, though, it’s an infusion of additional capital and capabilities. So we are accelerating our product development pipeline at an extraordinary rate.
We’ve already doubled the size of our tech support organization because we already own our technology and we’ve done a variety of data center transitions over the course of the last five years as we separate and don’t expect our customers to feel any challenge. But nevertheless, we’ve completely deployed exceptional resources out into the field to give our customers better service than they’ve ever had in the past. And we’re just looking forward to continuing to build great relationships and great collaborations with our partners.