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Online or On Land

Omnichannel payment solutions bridge the online and brick-and-mortar worlds

Online or On Land

Can service match demand?

That’s the delightful question iGaming payments providers ponder in a high-growth era. Riches await companies handling the payment sector of a rapidly expanding market niche.

Interest is soaring. Vendors race to embrace the lucrative wave of new customers. Their efforts target patrons who differ from all gamblers that came before them. They can become instant repeat customers via phones, tablets, and home computers. Their 24/7 access to games will hike industry revenue forecasts every year.

Varied estimates portray worldwide gambling as nearly a $500 billion industry. Inside of that, online gambling accounts for more than $75 billion, and rising.

Yes, the sports betting, online casinos, poker, and eSports realm packs quite a wallop. It will grow over time because only about half of the American market is operational. Major states like California, Florida and Texas would add significant totals if online gambling becomes approved there.

More is coming. Much more. Companies that facilitate the payment areas thus see higher stakes, and rewards.

Online slots and table games remain convenient alternatives to the brick-and-mortar menu. There is no road trip to reach a casino, no parking or long walk to the gaming area. No return trip home in traffic.

There are no crowds. A game is always available at one’s home or on one’s phone. An online gambler hitting a cold streak can simply stop, whereas a player who traveled to a casino gaming floor will feel compelled to stay.

This increasing market niche is dependable. Although nothing replaces the thrill of live shows and restaurants, iGaming becomes increasingly significant to operators and vendors.

There is also a secondary allure to online gaming. Companies with a presence both in the online and brick-and-mortar worlds can cross-promote them. Patrons can rack up riches online and then come see a show.

Everyone looks to cash in. Or perhaps, Everi-one.

Payments Evolution

Richard Sagman, senior vice president of product management at Everi Holdings, says the payment realm has evolved significantly in recent years.

“The U.S. iGaming space was initially very fragmented, fueled by elaborate workarounds to achieve successful funding,” Sagman says. “This forced operators and platforms to spend disproportionate development time to integrate many individual platforms. Nowadays, it’s easy to implement payment aggregators that can provide a variety of mechanics (credit/debit cards, ACH, checks, Apple Pay, Google Pay, crypto solutions) with a single integration.”

Sagman notes that statistics show players with multiple deposit options deposit more funds, and the cost savings involved with contracting and managing an aggregator can also be enhanced by better pricing for the operator.

Real-time payments and direct-from-bank funding are some recent innovations that caught headlines, but there are also headwinds for growth and differentiation across the broader gaming landscape.

“One of the biggest gaps in the market at present is the use of seamless payment experiences across online and on-premise game play,” Sagman asserts. “Payments and loyalty programs that allow players to migrate back and forth with their gaming funds wherever they are gaming will be the must-have requirement for 2024.

“The challenge stems from the inherent complexity of the hundreds of different land-based jurisdictions and physical differences of the payments landscape in the brick-and-mortar environment, the customer acquisition and revenue models, the technology stacks, the vastly different risk scenarios, and many other factors that pure e-commerce-designed systems cannot handle.”

Everi is already rolling these solutions into the market, Sagman says. He is excited for their potential.

“Intelligent tools to make a customer journey more efficient (returning to default or previous payment methods, suggesting deposit amounts that are relevant to the player’s profile and transparency of fees per option) all keep the player experience at their core,” he indicates.

“Allowing players to combine their online and on-premise loyalty program and wallet enhances brand loyalty for brick-and-mortar casinos and increases on-site visits.”

Brick-and-mortar wallet data has shown that patron choice of what, when, where, and how to engage delivers a compelling response in play, Sagman maintains. When combining embedded payments and channel choice of payments with the old rule of “location, location, location” for enabling patron choice for entertainment, he says the outcome will be a win for patrons and operators.

Everi’s position as a leading casino funding platform and the most cashless payment wallet locations currently in the market is a major advantage, Sagman asserts. It puts the company in the perfect position to help its operators move players from the casino floor to iGaming and sports betting, and then bring those players back to play on their properties.

“We are the only supplier offering seamless payments online, in slot machines on the casino floor, at retail outlets and on-premise mobile gaming platforms for Class II and Class III jurisdictions,” he says.  “This is a game-changer for our partners, and is being looked at by the entire casino market. With resort-wide mobile gaming rolling out across the country, 2024 looks to be the year that gaming expands beyond the casino floor to hotel rooms, restaurants, pools and beyond.”

The Payment Connection

“The greatest revolution in iGaming has been the emphasis on omnichannel offerings,” says Christopher Justice, CEO of Pavilion Payments. “The success of iGaming has been hard to ignore for brick-and-mortar gaming institutions that want to get in on the action. The challenge for payments providers has been to create a system that delivers a unified experience for customers while streamlining back-end processes for operators.”

Justice says one of the company’s iGaming solutions, VIP Connect, offers operators a seamless and efficient solution to simplify the integration of our other payments solutions. With VIP Connect, operators no longer need to invest continuous time and resources into designing and coding their platforms’ front or back end.

New innovations like instant payments and online bank credentialing have also made an outsized impact on the iGaming sector. In both cases, state-of-the-art technology from the broader payments industry is being applied in ways that address the gaming experience, he says.

In recent years, that experience has become a combination of iGaming and brick-and-mortar product offerings. It is important for payment access to bridge both areas.

Justice says that while land-based and online payments have some important differences, they have each had immense influence in the past few years. Combined, the increase in functionality and data sharing between the two has led to a more seamless omnichannel experience.

Justice indicates that the company has eyed iGaming for a long time. Its flagship e-check/ACH network, VIP Preferred, allows patrons to connect their checking accounts to more than 400 in-person and online gaming institutions after just one signup.

“VIP Preferred is our long-running payments solution that allows patrons to connect to both in-person and online casinos,” he asserts. “Patrons connect their checking account to our e-check network for industry-leading convenience and bank-grade security.

“We have also introduced VIP Online, which can be implemented alongside VIP Preferred or on its own. VIP Online offers patrons multiple spending limits while VIP Preferred provides higher spending limits. By utilizing both solutions, gaming operators can give their patrons the chance to select their own preferences, which improves the gaming experience.”

Justice believes that allowing patrons to quickly withdraw their money is a major draw, and sets VIP Online apart from other iGaming payments providers. iGaming patrons are attracted to solutions that make it easier to withdraw their funds, a notorious problem for gaming patrons.

Pavilion Payments also supports online bank credentialing for easy enrollment, lowering the barrier to entry for patrons. It recently introduced a new iGaming payments solution called VIP Online Banking, which offers patrons higher funding amounts and enhanced flexibility and functionality.

Justice says his company will continue placing significant resources into this valued market sector in 2024.

“As the largest vertically integrated payments provider in the gaming industry, we believe in developing cutting-edge solutions for both in-person and online gaming,” he says. “With iGaming having become a mainstay of the gaming industry, we see it as part of our mission to create iGaming payments solutions that are enjoyable to use and engender customer loyalty.”

The company added some goodwill by funding research and a grant award for the International Center for Responsible Gaming (ICRG) for a research initiative by Michael Wohl, an acclaimed researcher and professor at Ottawa-based Carleton University. The study is aimed at developing tools to foster responsible gambling practice.

This gains a stronger focus with Problem Gambling Awareness Month in March.

Sharp Vision

Mandi Hart, head of product for Sightline, believes the company can enhance casino operations while saving money for them.

“Casino operators spend millions and millions of dollars every year on financial fees,” she says. “Sightline aims to reduce the fees operators pay while at the same time providing the best possible guest experience. That’s what happens when you combine gaming, banking and technology experts all in one exciting company that is relentlessly focused on making the gaming industry better.”

Hart believes the payment-landscape evolution of iGaming and land-based operations injects daily excitement into the company.

“We eat, live, and breathe gaming, and what’s exciting to us is the convergence between iGaming and land-based or brick-and-mortar gaming,” she asserts.

“We have been very intentional about our technology roadmap in this area, because both consumers and operators want to close the gap between the two worlds. That’s why we created an omnichannel payment solution for gaming operators, so their patrons can utilize one account for both their iGaming and land-based gaming payments. The process is very similar when it comes to being able to fund, spend, and access their money quickly.”

The biggest driver of this constant evolution is patron behavior, Hart says. As gamblers become increasingly familiar with digital payments, their demands have shifted to expecting everything to happen instantly and digitally. Sightline works to meet and exceed those expectations by making paying and playing simple and accessible.

“For example, one of the innovations in the world of iGaming payments that Sightline was intimately involved with is remote verification in the state of Nevada,” Hart recalls. “Our developers worked closely with Nevada gaming regulators to create a means by which patrons could remotely verify their identity when signing up for gaming payment accounts. The result of that effort is patrons who want to pay digitally for their play now have a more streamlined way to begin.”

Hart says Sightline is the leading voice in payments for the gaming industry, and has been blending the financial and gaming industries since 2009.

The company has always prioritized advancing the payment process for gaming operators and making it more efficient so that every operator is empowered with the ability to offer their patrons the choice of how they want to pay—no matter the casino’s size, location, or if they are tribal or commercial, single-site or multi-site. Sightline is currently partnered with over 70 gaming operators providing various forms of digital payments, and the feedback from their guests continues to be outstanding, she asserts.

Sightline’s flagship solution, Sightline Pay, is a dynamic payments solution that integrates and customizes to fit each individual gaming operator’s needs, instead of one-size-fits-all solutions that other companies offer. Sightline Pay is an omnichannel solution that powers digital payments and withdrawals for iGaming, online sports betting, and lottery.

Of course, this is in addition to funding cashless gaming, and cash-outs for tables and for slots in land-based gaming.

The company  introduced Sightline Pay in 2009, and continually enhanced it. This has been timely.

On the iGaming side, for example, Sightline Pay now allows gaming patrons to have access to their money fast, instead of waiting the traditional one to two business days to cash out their winnings to a bank card or account.

“Because it is a forward-thinking, omnichannel solution, Sightline Pay is the perfect solution for gaming operators, and it has been proven to increase ROI,” Hart says, “whether that is reducing the churn of patron funds and saving them in patron fund load fees or increasing revenue through interchange and float rev share.”

The company expects to finalize a new version of Sightline Pay later this year, and among the features in this new solution is it allows the operators to increase ROI in their payment/cash-out stacks.

And the beat goes on. Throughout the industry, companies savor the payments-iGaming synergy. It’s a partnership yielding strong rewards.

 

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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