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Covid, Cash and Finance

Covid-19 has created an immediate market for cashless, contact-free gaming funding solutions, and new challenges for compliance auditing

Covid, Cash and Finance

Casino cages face a difficult, Covid-19-induced juggling act.

Reduce the paperwork, but maintain accuracy. Enhance anti-laundering efforts but encourage more time on device. Upgrade tax information collection systems and comply with Title 31 anti-money laundering audit rules without halting robust pace-of-play linked to precious revenue.

How can casinos do it all, safely?

They enlist companies that help them balance the difficult priorities.

The Versatile Wallet

Everi brings the multi-dimensional CashClub Wallet to this space. It has become a game-changing product, according to Darren Simmons, the company’s executive vice president and fintech business leader.

“We are not selling an app; we are enabling the digital transformation of your patron experience,” Simmons says. “We understand that complexity around the gaming customer is increasing every day, and operators are looking for continued engagement by creating integrated handoffs to create a seamless experience.”

Everi offers frictionless integration with CashClub Wallet and creates a unified experience by providing a community of products in compliance, AML and loyalty with ease and friendliness, he adds.

CashClub Wallet is a direct extension of products and services offered by Everi, which has the industry-leading kiosk and ATM security elements and compliance with PCI standards, Simmons asserts. There is no reliance on downstream payment providers for critical compliance needs.

“This digital solution leverages all casino operations with the added benefit of utilizing an existing footprint of cage software and full-service kiosk hardware,” Simmons says. “We have shown the ability to drive more funds to gaming floors efficiently and responsibly, while providing all users with a premium gaming experience.

Simmons provides a comprehensive assessment of the CashClub Wallet. “With all the complexity with available data in today’s casino operation, Everi’s goal is to provide a digital transformation with the following core aspects in place—security, trust, ubiquity, and ease of use,” he says.

“Since the CashClub Wallet delivers a private account that is controlled by Everi (rather than by a payment network sponsor bank), we are able to control funds for the benefit of the operator as well as delivering them to the patron where, how, and when they want them. This, on top of our industry-leading and cross-integrated products, means that we can deliver new experiences within a trusted, reliable, familiar, scalable, flexible and secure environment.”

What does that mean?

“A mobile web page, a mobile app, a kiosk, cage, the point of sale, a table game, a slot machine… All are accessible by the wallet,” he says. “How are funds accessed? Patron’s choice. Player card and PIN, money-to-go code, tap of your phone.

“There are multiple forms of payments and patron payment access points that casino operators can provide for a consistent spending experience across an enterprise. Our solutions offer the ability to drive greater adoption of wallet use by offering a user experience customers are already accustomed to.”

The Everi CashClub Wallet enables operators to deliver integrated digital patron experiences alongside current solutions by leveraging their existing investments in infrastructure and operations with the addition of its “Casino BaaS” (Banking as a Service) capabilities and advanced financial technology.

Simmons says Everi empowers operators to deliver on all aspects of the emerging mobile ecosystem, including funding at the gaming device, payments at point of sale, or funding additional wallets for sports betting or social gaming. Combined, the company provides a true cashless experience all while still providing customers with multiple options to access funds while on the casino floor, he says.

Existing controls, processes and favorite guest interactions are extending to include—but not mandate—new digital ones.

“From touchless TITO (ticket in, ticket out) dispense to moving funds from your personal account to retail, gaming or online endpoints, Everi makes it easy,” he asserts.

Simmons says the CashClub Wallet benefits both the casino and the gamblers. The operator can prioritize investments to deliver the patron experience most important to them without having to change everything at once. Everi can provide operators a frictionless payment experience with the true omni-channel payments solutions, whether it’s on the casino floor, sports betting, mobile or retail.

How a patron utilizes it:

“When the wallet is fully integrated to slot systems, each customer segment is free to interact the way they want,” Simmons says. “Player card at slot to load funds, mobile app at kiosk for a ticket or cash, mobile web page to enroll or load funds, scan a QR code at the gift shop, and many more. How you want, where you want, when you want. Customers can accurately track gambling history, including all deposits, all from one source.”

Regarding the online sector, Simmons attributes Everi’s footprint in land-based gaming as a bridge between the two entities.

Everi also delivers its legacy of payments innovation along to the digital landscape, curating experiences and functionality through innovation, Simmons says. From new transaction types such as OCT (“push payments”), Real Time Payments (RTP), and fiat deposits from crypto currencies (via regulated third parties) to classic solutions like self-service check cashing, Everi continues to deliver new products and services.

The Core Focus

CasinoSoft, a Nevada-based software development firm, has built a first-in-class, scalable compliance and taxation software package using the Mendix low-code platform. The package, ComplianceCore, digitizes and automates the extensive data collection and reporting required of casinos and card clubs operating under Title 31.

These federal regulations were put in place by Congress and strengthened after 9/11 to prevent criminal money laundering, terrorist financing, and other suspicious behaviors that would otherwise be obscured by the high volume of casino-based currency transactions. Fines for businesses not complying with FinCEN’s daily data collection and annual auditing requirements can add up to tens of millions of dollars and, in extreme cases, imprisonment.

CasinoSoft aims its Taxforms product right at Title 31 compliance. CasinoSoft installed its Title 31 and Taxforms software in Cordish Companies’ new Live! Casino Pittsburgh and Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia properties, according to company CEO Matt Montano. Live! Maryland is next, he says.

“Tablet Taxforms is an iOS-driven product designed to run on the iPad platform so a casino is able to take the tax form process to the customer and radically reduce the time it takes to get the player paid and the game back in play,” says Montano.

“Successfully cutting down jackpot payout times (the time the game is locked up for a hand pay) is a key metric in most casinos,” he says. “Moving the jackpot payout time from 16 minutes to 6 minutes represents an increase of time on device of 10 minutes.”

Ten additional minutes on device over the course of a day where a high-value player may win six jackpots represents an additional hour of play, according to Montano. An additional hour of time per high-value player per day can represent a significant increase in revenue for any casino. It’s also important for a significant industry requirement—accuracy.

“Taxforms will capture and process patrons’ data and signatures, scan and upload IDs, photos and much more,” says Montano. “It will also process and complete tax forms such as 1099s, W-2Gs and 1042s right at the gaming device or table. With real-time verification, instant communication across departments and data syncing to one database, Taxforms is user-friendly and accessible on a tablet.

“Taxforms is a game changer for the gaming industry. Pair Taxforms with our Document Automation module and the ability for a casino to digitize and archive their critical documentation on a modern and scalable platform is second to none.”

But it’s not easy to keep the information straight.

“The majority of casinos are paper factories that generate massive piles of paperwork on a daily basis,” Montano contends. “There is simply too much financial data coming from too many sources on the casino floor for employees to aggregate by hand and review.

“Regarding the casinos that do have enterprise financial systems, they’re often tied into back-end legacy systems that are hard to update when technology improves or regulations change. Resource-stretched IT teams usually limit their upgrades of a casino’s work stations to once every two years.”

CasinoSoft built the three ComplianceCore modules in just six months, from scratch, using the Mendix low-code software development platform. Low-code is a visual approach to application development that enables users of varied experience levels to create applications for web and mobile, using drag-and-drop components and model-driven logic through a graphical user interface.

ComplianceCore dramatically reduces the amount of time casino staff spends on data collection.

Reaching the Tribal Market

The Tribal Practice of Wipfli, formerly Joseph Eve CPAs, has been working in Indian Country for 35 years.

The company has met a burgeoning market that features Covid-19 compliance and the intent for less paperwork.

Company partner Grant Eve says that as tribal casinos have rebounded, this new wave of patrons increases Title 31/AML risk. The large markets see many properties experiencing increased reporting of suspicious activity and new customer profiles.

Many properties are analyzed and their risk assessments updated in a proactive effort to get ahead of the changes.

The company’s propriety CasinoEdge platform intakes post-revenue audit data at the department and transaction level, and delivers it in an easy-to-read format for non-accounting team members, according to Eve.

The engine that CasinoEdge feeds is the top-rated financial management and accounting system in the market, Sage Intacct. Sage Intacct is the only financial application endorsed by the American Institute of Public Accountants (AICPA), the governing body of CPAs.

The solution’s mobile application delivers a real-time health check to all department heads via a smartphone or tablet. Multi-entity consolidation for multiple locations is seamless. Furthermore, Sage Intacct offers the highest levels of internal controls and custom workflow automation of accounting processes and detailed audit trail behind every action in the system.

Wipfli’s tribal-world functionality will likely spread throughout the entire gaming industry, mirroring its response to unprecedented times.

This is one more achievement for an industry that has set new social-distancing, safety and cleanliness standards via innovation.

Casinos enlist companies which help them balance compliance and revenue. If they hit the sweet spot in this equation, properties can satisfy regulators and monitor their patrons.

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.