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Instant Funds

Development and acceptance of digital wallets has increased in the wake of Covid-19

Instant Funds

Never mind the billfold, the compartment for credit cards or family pictures. Wallets become ever-more sophisticated. And they don’t have to sit in one’s pocket.

The new use of digital wallets (aka e-wallets), a vehicle to store, activate and replenish funds, gains an ever-sharp edge in the gaming industry. Operators seek to provide the fingertip money-managing convenience customers enjoy in the world outside casinos. This effort has been prominent in recent years, entailing different stages to upgrade funds accessibility.

Expanded ATM versatility, more kiosk functionality and now the proliferation of e-wallets highlight the industry’s goal for maximum speed and convenience.

Integrated Magic

IGT has forged a major footprint in the digital wallet sector. Its Resort Wallet with IGT Pay provides a completely integrated network that connects funds, a payment vehicle and a place to maintain and utilize money.

Customers gain a new method to manage finances, while operators can assess whether bonus awards linked to deposits are effective.

“We are the sole provider of a completely integrated solution, which offers unique advantages in many areas, including bonusing,” says Jacob Lanning, payment consultant for IGT cashless technology business development. “We provide the entire system, all the way to that external funding gateway. Most other casino system providers only provide the system and then have to integrate with a third party to provide access to that banking network.

“There are numerous advantages both for the player and the operator. Among them, we have a deeper understanding of the transactions. That allows us to create bonusing opportunities that are compelling to individual players. Companies often provide bonuses for deposits, but most don’t have the ability to see whether they were used for a transaction on the property. We have the ability tie those bonuses more tightly to play preferences.”

Patrons enroll for the loyalty club and establish a cashless account at a given property. They can fund that account at the facility or by using IGT Pay to connect their bank, debit, credit card and e-wallet information with Resort Wallet. Players can choose cashless to fund slot play, table games, sports betting, and use at retail points-of-sale across multiple properties in the same enterprise. IGT offers two flexible variations of its cashless offering: cardless and carded.

For Cardless Cashless, using an app on a mobile device to access a Cashless Wagering Account, players load cash into the account from either the casino cashier, kiosk, or a slot machine, then tap their smartphone on a slot machine or table game to card in. They can then transfer funds between slot machines onsite, as well as among a casino’s sister properties.

In Carded Cashless using a casino-branded loyalty card, players load cash into a secure Cashless Wagering Account from either the casino cashier, kiosk, or any slot machine, and access those funds from any slot machine, electronic table game, or kiosk using the card.

For players, the benefit is immediate. There are no interruptions from the game to access funds from an ATM.

IGT has targeted efforts in this sector to match extensive research conducted with players. It determined that 70 percent of its respondents expected to use cashless in their everyday lives and more than 50 percent wanted to see this capability at casinos, Lanning says.

Andrew Karonis, IGT’s vice president of payments, indicates that the IGT Pay venue has helped fuel a stratospheric rise in use. “We have had this IGT Pay gateway live globally since 2013 and in the U.S. since 2018,” he says. “We have been serving lottery, iGaming and the sports betting space. With sports betting, we not only anticipate the volume of wagers increasing, but the average transactions are much higher in the sports-betting space.

“IGT also provides payment services if the client wants to use them. We can help them with contracting with service providers, reconciliation and funds management risk. We can offer that either as an advisory service or part of a turnkey solution.”

Wallets Galore

Everi Holdings introduced cashless technology in 2017 and made its digital initiative clear to the industry with the introduction of a cashless wagering feature called QuikTicket. Since then, it migrated to a mature offering that provides a new funding choice through a fully touchless, cashless mobile experience.

The flexible and multi-dimensional CashClub Wallet allows players to store multiple payment methods, easily move funds in and out of the casino or online across sports betting or social casinos, and manage their spending limits, helping to support responsible gaming.

The company set its sights on giving patrons the same ability, comfort and convenience to load, retrieve and unload funds that they experience with similar funding applications like a kiosk, ATM or at the casino cage. Everi has two functioning digital wallets in the Florida and Oklahoma gaming markets, and expects to see this trend continue across other gaming locations throughout the world, according to Darren Simmons, executive vice president and fintech business leader for Everi.

The rollouts continued last year. Everi initially launched the WinStar Wallet, powered by its CashClub Wallet, in December 2020 at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Oklahoma. The CashClub Wallet mobile solution allows for cashless and touchless funding of electronic game play throughout the casino floor.

The WinStar Wallet also is available for all of WinStar’s resort amenities, including all food and beverage and retail outlets. Everi also launched the CashClub Wallet at Hard Rock International, in conjunction with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The Seminole Wild Card Wallet is available at all of their gaming locations in Florida, including Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood and Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa. 

CashClub Wallet provides casino operators and their customers with a flexible, cost-effective, secure payment method on the casino floor. Creating a contactless environment that provides an alternative to cash, the CashClub Wallet mobile application gives gaming patrons the ability to deposit funds into their digital wallet at their convenience—while they are on site or away from the resort, via a bank card or directly from their checking account.

Patrons can then access these funds for use directly at the game, enabling the casino to offer a fully touchless solution. At the conclusion of play, patrons can then move funds back into their digital wallet and either hold the funds in the wallet for future use or electronically send the funds out of their digital wallet and back into their bank account.

 “The process to load funds onto the CashClub Wallet app is simple,” Simmons says. “Download the application on Apple Store or Google Pay. From there, the patron follows prompts to enter and verify personal information. There is a two-step verification for security measures, and you are required to create a personal identification number (PIN).

“Verifying personal information allows the casino operators to identify the customers when they are opening up an account and ensure that standards are met when conducting transactions within the casino. At the same time, the wallet is connected to the player’s card from the casino. This allows the patron to use the cashless functionality on the casino floor by just inserting the player’s card into the slot machine and authenticating with PIN.”

Once an account is verified and created, funding can be initiated with credit/debit cards or via ACH withdrawal from the customer’s banking institution, he adds. Cards can be entered and maintained within the application. Once entered, select the account you wish to withdraw from, enter the desired amount and then funds are instantly available for casino play. This is for both online and on the floor of the casino. 

The Mobile VIP

Global Payments Gaming Solutions’ VIP Mobility is the first solution of its kind to bring a modern and digital approach to gaming, according to company President Christopher Justice.

“Depending on their unique situations and preferences, today’s consumers are becoming increasingly reliant on digital and online channels in their everyday lives, including accessing money,” Justice says. “As the only solution of its kind, VIP Mobility enables casinos to take the lead position in the industry by providing a more secure, more enjoyable gaming experience to their guests—all hosted within the casino’s existing infrastructure.”

The company launched VIP Mobility in May with an implementation pilot program at Viejas Casino & Resort. VIP Mobility is live today and the application is available for Android and iOS devices, Justice indicates.

Unlike traditional forms of wagering and betting, the product provides a seamless player experience from funding through cash-out, he says. With VIP Mobility, patrons can quickly create digital TITO tickets, easily pair their device to any slot or table game by scanning a QR code and reload funds right from their phone. Once play is complete, guests can immediately retrieve funds, ensuring play is never interrupted to get cash. 

“As the only omnichannel funding solution in the market, VIP Mobility connects brick-and-mortar and online gaming environments to deliver a frictionless user experience, from registration to cash-out,” Justice says. “Once registered, VIP Preferred members can game at casinos throughout the country or switch to online experiences without having to inconveniently re-register their account.”

The company continues to build upon lessons delivered from the pandemic.

“Prior to the that time, patrons were adopting contactless payment options at a rapid pace across all aspects of their daily lives,” Justice says. “However, COVID-19 accelerated the want and need for contactless payment adoption as patrons gravitate toward safer, mobile-driven options that meet their needs and expectations.

“We expect these behaviors to remain even after the pandemic subsides, as patrons have grown accustomed to the cashless gaming experience. As such, land-based operators will need to continue to provide—and enhance—these contactless and cashless services after the pandemic and moving into the future.”

The Personal Banker

“Our competitive advantage comes from our understanding of players’ behavior with our high-performing games, our extensive experience working closely with tribal operators, and our online gaming experience where all funding has been cashless.” —Cath Burns, Executive Vice President, Customer Experience, Aristocrat

For several years, Aristocrat Gaming has used a digital method for managing slot play called Personal Banker (PBT), which includes credits, free play, and promotional dollars. Covid accelerated the use of cash as another extension of this contactless bucket of funds allowing the guest to have a more frictionless experience.

Its current application has been around more than a decade, but there’s a twist.

“What’s new is our enhancement to extend PBT, our mobile management of these funds and the ease of using a third-party funding source to draw down additional funds, which has accelerated through the use of a mobile application in the recent years,” says Cath Burns, executive vice president, customer experience for Aristocrat.

“Our solution is elegant, and the guest experience has that familiar easy-to-use touch,” Burns says. “Aristocrat’s mobile offering maintains the perfect balance of ease of funds and responsible gaming to ensure the guest has a positive, memorable experience.

“Our competitive advantage comes from our understanding of players’ behavior with our high-performing games, our extensive experience working closely with tribal operators, and our online gaming experience where all funding has been cashless. Combined with our focus on customer experience, this should result in higher adoption by players and operators.”

Burns predicts rapid waves of innovation for the system, which has new features and functionality for its operators around retail, table games and iGaming.

“We are expanding our cashless/e-wallet capabilities to take advantage of these developments globally as we expand our CX offerings into new markets and territories,” Burns says.

Burns adds that when a customer registers for a new player account, either through the club or after downloading a branded application, he or she as the user will be prompted to use the same credentials to register for an external funding account.

This account, along with the wager account, can be used for cashless, contactless and frictionless wager at the property after validation of credentials to fund online iGaming player accounts that share the same funding source. This digital wallet can be used to pay for goods and services like a traditional player account.

The pandemic brought more focus to the cashless world. Products emphasizing this feature, both in gaming and elsewhere, gained increased significance.

“Covid-19 has accelerated approval and adoption of cashless as guests dislike handling cash, and our solutions help eliminate the need for traditional currency handling,” Burns says.

Throughout the industry, these products will soon become more battle-tested. Patrons are returning to brick-and-mortar facilities. They want instant funds access and reconciliation methods. They don’t want lines.

It appears that the industry is wired in to this truth.

Sports and Cashless

Sightline accommodates the new sports betting sector

Industry visionary Joe Pappano positioned his company to embrace the emergence of cashless wagering and legalized sports betting several years ago. The Sightline Payments CEO has ensured that the establishment has a multi-faceted vehicle to accommodate the new business.

Play+ is Sightline’s flagship consumer solution for seamless and secure pay-and-play with more than 1.5 million enrolled accounts active in 39 states for use in the online sports betting, online casino, online lottery and horse racing markets.

“Along with our partners at Worldpay, Sightline has led the way with financial institutions and card networks to increase acceptance of gaming transactions through education on the robust regulatory environment in legalized gaming,” Pappano says.

Unlike traditional wagering accounts and digital wallets, Play+ creates a debit account for users to be able to easily and quickly transfer money to and from their wagering accounts, providing easy access to funds anywhere a Discover or Mastercard is accepted.

Pappano says the company launched its original Play+ offering in 2013, when New Jersey opened its online casino market.

“The current iteration of Play+ launched earlier in 2021 as part of Sightline’s SPAN network upgrade, which provides the ability to move funds between your Play+ debit account and your wagering account of choice,” he says. “The newest iteration of that product ties the digital assets and brick-and-mortar casinos together to create a true omnichannel environment where customers can use the same funds at their online sportsbook or online casino, or in person at that same company’s integrated casino resort—both at gaming and non-gaming elements of the resort—and be able to use those funds anywhere that a credit or debit card is accepted.”

With integrations into all major casino management system providers, casino mobile provider Joingo, point-of-sale systems including Shift4 and Freedom Pay, and with financial services leader NRT, Sightline provides an end-to-end product.

“For a brick-and-mortar property, a customer would download the casino app. From there, select ‘Fund Account’ and be able to create a Play+ account,” Pappano explains. “Our solution then conducts the appropriate know-your-customer (KYC) requirements to ensure you are who you say you are prior to activating this account.”

The patron then receives a casino-branded debit card which can be used at any location that accepts Discover or Mastercard, which is loaded with the funds he deposited.

At a casino slot machine, the player would transfer funds from the Play+ account to the casino wagering account via the CMS that property utilizes. The customer can quickly transfer funds to and from different games he wants to play using a mobile device.

The player can also use his mobile device to receive chips at a table game, through a variety of solutions including NRT’s Visual Limits platform or Lily tablet, Aristocrat’s Oasis solution, or Scientific Games’ table game solution. Customers can cash chips in at the table to transfer money back to the Play+ account.

“The Play+ solution provides instant access to funds for players and offers them true fungibility with their deposits,” Pappano says.

A patron would also be able to use those same funds for online wagering, creating a true omnichannel experience.

Sightline is positioned to serve the continued growth of sports wagering.

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.

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