Gaming can employ a famous Major League Baseball quote.
Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson reportedly called himself “the straw that stirs the drink,” regarding his role of jump-starting the World Series champion New York Yankees in the 1970s.
Jackson denied it years later, because it portrayed him as selfish.
But gaming kiosks don’t have that image problem.
They truly are the straw that mixes the drink in the casino world, facilitating every step of gaming’s increased functionality.
They were first a source of money and convenience for players who either wanted to access cash or draw money to pay for parking on their casino exit. Then came the bill-breaking capability, and wayfinding, as operators directed patrons to different establishments on their property.
Check-ins became another prime responsibility of the kiosks. Customers were allowed to use them, unclogging the long lines that create a bad first experience at a property.
And it grew. Operators put up menus and specials on the kiosk, along with a list of shows and casino services. The better the information, the more useful a kiosk was.
Kiosks have crossed over into something more prominent now. They are an integral part of many sportsbook operations.
A kiosk near a sportsbook provides more than a convenience. It delivers a betting option for a customer who could be shut out in a sportsbook line. Las Vegas brick-and-mortar gamblers know all about that on an NFL Sunday. Horse-racing bettors and NFL patrons often find themselves in the same line, battling against time.
The mobile age has alleviated much of that on the football side, and some of it on the horse-racing side, but it will never eliminate the kiosk.
Some people like the size, convenience and look of a device that delivers money, odds and the means by which to bet. Both the manufacturing and operating sides love the advanced, sophisticated kiosk.
A Kiosk King
Darren Simmons, executive vice president and fintech business leader for Everi, sees the interactions between mobile devices and floor kiosks as the biggest new jump in the role of kiosks.
An example would be the players club and cashless wallet signup.
“Providing a quick way for customers to move the flow to their phone and fill out information in lieu of having them stand at a kiosk opens up new ways to engage with our customers, while creating more effective flows,” he says. “We even have experiences where employees can use the combination of a mobile device and an employee kiosk to be more efficient in paying out jackpots to players. Form factors are increasingly part of the evolution.”
Simmons asserts that features, function, security and design have all been enhanced to enable optimal footprint and greater efficiencies for employee bandwidth allocation—all while increasing patron value.
For example, a former retail food-ordering kiosk has been retrofitted to enable loyalty, wallet and TITO purchase features—all on the same basic, wall-mounted screen form factor.
Another example of the flexibility would be promoting virtual wallets or credit card signups on a kiosk. The process can be moved to a mobile device to be completed with the majority of data prefilled, he says.
“Frankly, there is very little they cannot do today or will be able to do very soon,” Simmons asserts. “The indication of how advanced this channel has become is that we are really talking about the patron choosing which channel they prefer for a given interaction.
“This enables a wide range of enhancements to guest experiences, as team members are free to focus on high-touch, high-value interactions.”
Better guest service includes new industry adaptations to Covid, he maintains. The pandemic made operators look to a world in which fewer interactions were needed to perform the same number of transactions.
“This also pushed us to expand our use of mobile devices for functions that customers could perform on their own ‘kiosk in their pocket,’” he says. “This has extended to hybrid-use cases such as $ToGo where a patron’s phone becomes a ‘second screen’ to enable touchless, private, secure interactions with the kiosk.”
Simmons touts several Everi offerings.
Everi’s Slot Concierge allows self-service interactions between its Trilogy Engage Loyalty kiosks and its TournEvent Now products. Customers can use the loyalty kiosks they are familiar with to check leaderboards, schedule times to play and purchase new entries with loyalty points.
“I also enjoy the Money2Go ($ToGo) feature,” he adds. “I am a heavy user of this, in the non-gaming bank transactions world. It allows the user to conduct parts of the transaction on their phone, and complete the transaction on the kiosk in a quick and simple way.
“I hate carrying cards and prefer to stage transactions with my mobile device in lieu of using the standard card PIN and navigation process. It seems like a longer process with more steps, but in practice it is very easy and convenient, as mobile is a medium that people love to use.”
Simmons would like to see more kiosks interact with a single resort application more seamlessly. That means removing the various cards and sign-ups that are necessary at most resort casinos and pulling them into a single device that customers interact with, integrated with other technology while visiting.
“Imagine an enhanced mobile experience that worked as well as a remote control for a TV,” he says. “Why do I have to touch any control panels; why can’t my wallet and slot credit meters follow me and my device?”
The Complementary Kiosk
At GAN, the kiosk fits nicely into their lineup.
The sports-betting version is a sleek, visually pleasing device that accommodates a broad spectrum of wagers.
The kiosk is a vital component of the company’s overall operation.
Its proprietary sports betting platform, GAN Sports, creates a seamless plug-and-play experience for partners to launch their desired sportsbook.
That dynamic encompasses retail on-property, online, or both. GAN touts its ability to stand up a company’s sports betting platform and configure the requisite odds, lines and marketing activities to help them meet goals.
Its platform also allows for localized pricing, allowing partners to manage risk at the property level. This means that each property can control its pricing parameters down to the event level.
The GAN sports-betting kiosk is an interesting piece of the puzzle. GAN does not build it. The company purchases the hardware, inserts its software and sells the finalized unit to an operator.
Its kiosk is operating at Red Rock in Las Vegas. Company officials expect the distribution to spread.
As for the kiosk itself, the bottom half has a component to enter money.
The top portion has major sports categories splashed across the top. Customers go into those areas and end up with a sportsbook at their fingertips. An NFL game example is the money line wagering odds, point spreads and over/unders. Parlays are also possible to bet.
A customer can place a $100 bill in the kiosk, make $50 worth of wagers and get a voucher for the other $50, which can be played anytime.
“The kiosk enables the patron to identify themselves or bet anonymously and swiftly find their desired team, player or event to bet on,” says Richard Veltri, COO of GAN Sports. “It has a single large screen in order to display as many betting markets as possible and it is very comfortable for building larger parlays.”
Veltri says the GAN platform brings forth a unique in-house proprietary UI/UX architecture powered by modular technology. This enables every operator to have a unique customer experience.
“Moreover, the kiosk is part of our omnichannel solution powering patrons’ mobile activity, and can fully power operators’ loyalty programs,” he adds.
Veltri touts the look, feel and functionality of the GAN kiosk.
“The super-fast front-end is beautifully designed and enriched with our deep local sports product offering,” he asserts. “Not to forget the Digital Parlay cards functionality, which enables the patron to quickly find the most interesting parlay bets of the day and week.”
Kiosks Keep the Ball Rolling
Kambi is a giant in the sports-betting world, and kiosks figure strongly into its playbook.
The company touts itself as the leading independent provider of premium sports betting technology and services to the regulated global betting and gaming industry. It is a partner with more than 40 operators on six continents.
Officials say the company not only provides a first-class sports betting experience, but acts as an incubator for operator innovation and differentiation thanks to its data-driven sportsbook core and flexible technology.
Kambi has a clear strategy for kiosk interaction with their business.
Officials believe kiosks facilitate the most efficient experience possible for its partners’ customer retention on-property. Through the Kambi kiosk, casino patrons can quickly get their bets down on any market in any sport that they would through a mobile device, providing a similar entertaining experience found elsewhere on the casino floor.
Kambi’s Bring Your Own Device technology—mobile phone, tablet, watch, etc.—was a significant help in a world where social distancing was of the utmost importance, officials say.
Unique to Kambi, the technology enables bettors to view lines and construct bets from anywhere, on or off property—generating a QR code which can be scanned at the counter or a Kambi kiosk, reducing queues and eliminating the need to come into contact with any other surfaces.
The Kambi kiosk offers all the great features that bettors will find on its online platform, including in-game betting and Kambi’s award-winning Bet Builder. The company recognizes that players expect the same engagement in the retail space that they get online, and it provides them a full offering in all of its retail terminals.
As the sports betting industry matures, a greater variety of companies are entering the market. Therefore, providing operators with the ability to differentiate and express their unique brand is crucial to their success.
While kiosks have been instrumental to the company, it has already seen the value of an alternative.
Last year at G2E, Kambi debuted a new bar-top terminal, enabling players to enjoy their sports betting experience while watching sports at the bar of their sportsbook venue.
The launch of bar-top terminals, which can be configured and branded to meet individual partner requirements, further strengthens Kambi’s retail product suite. Its unique bar-top sports betting terminals allow bettors to enjoy the thrill of sports betting, such as in-play wagering, from the comfort of their barstool, with no need to visit a kiosk or a counter to place their bets.
The launch of bar-top terminals, which can be configured and branded to meet individual partner requirements, further strengthens Kambi’s retail product suite.
Making Kiosks a VIP
Global Payments President Chris Justice says the company utilizes self-service kiosk technology, what it refers to as its VIP Financial Center, as one piece in its larger payments ecosystem.
“The VIP Financial Center is a multifaceted solution that can provide a number of different services in one package,” Justice indicates. “One important aspect is its physical nature.
“While this may not have been noteworthy a few years ago, the rise of purely digital payments has made physical methods stand out. Therefore, self-service kiosks are the perfect solution for patrons who still prefer to play with cash and don’t want to interact with the cage.”
The company integrates kiosks into a larger picture, he says. The continued evolution of kiosks blends with the service needs of the industry.
During the pandemic, for instance, self-service kiosks emerged as a catalyst to serve patrons and operators, he asserts. Operators ensuring the safety of patrons and employees saw them as the ideal solution, giving patrons the services typically done at the cage while curbing the spread of the virus.
This was one of the expanded roles kiosks have played in recent years.
“The greatest change to kiosks recently is the sheer breadth of services that they can provide,” Justice says. “Self-service solutions should work alongside other payments solutions. A kiosk on its own can only do so much. Integrating it into a larger payment system gives it more capability, satisfying patrons.”
Modern kiosks, which are exclusively an in-person service, also need to connect casino gaming with iGaming, he indicates. As more casinos adopt an omnichannel approach, their kiosk solutions ought to reflect that.
In the case of Global Payments, kiosks play a role in its hot product, VIP Financial Center.
Far from being a glorified ATM, the VIP Financial Center can provide a wide range of solutions including TITO ticket redemption, bill breaking, e-check, cash advance and other services, he says.
Justice indicates that VIP Financial Center is the company’s comprehensive self-service solution. It utilizes Global Payments’ industry-standard e-check network, VIP Preferred, which seamlessly connects patrons to their checking accounts.
He touts the product’s ability to connect the in-person gaming experience with the latest payments technology. Customers can bypass the cage, using VIP Financial Center to get exactly what they need and quickly return to their favorite games.
“Between its vast range of capabilities and its seamless payments process, VIP Financial Center is unmatched in convenience and ease-of-use,” he asserts. “VIP Financial Center is powered by VIP Lightspeed, which gives patrons the same services they can access at the cage while taking up less real estate on the game room floor.”
Justice adds that the VIP Financial Center interfaces with Global Payments’ other solutions like VIP Preferred and VIP Mobility, the industry’s first mobile solution enabling true cashless gaming, giving it unparalleled flexibility in the gaming kiosk marketplace.
Throughout the industry, both the manufacturing and operating sides love the advanced, sophisticated kiosk. The more they ask of it, the more they accomplish.