Gaming fashions a unique perception of pay to play.
This one does not concern influence peddling. It entails mastering payments infrastructure to accommodate massive play. Every new gaming launch underscores this dynamic, and Ohio became the latest example with its January 1 dive into the online gaming market.
Another new revenue stream beckons. So does a reminder that payment processing, both in iGaming and traditional casino circles, must be stellar.
Wherever gamblers launch wagers—from phones, tablets, computers or in brick-and-mortar establishments—three elements are paramount: speed, access and security. Companies which service the soaring new business either introduce or enhance products to grow or retain market share.
Stakes are high, but rewards are enormous.
Victor Newsom, senior vice president of payments for Everi Holdings, sees a dynamic big picture in which iGaming payments fit.
“No single supplier in the gaming industry processes more financial access transactions than Everi—over $37 billion from more than 125 million transactions in 2021 alone, and we expect that number to be over $40 billion in 2022,” Newsom asserts.
“We strongly believe in giving customers the ability for convenience and choice in how they access funds, whether from a digital wallet or a kiosk on the casino floor.”
Newsom says Everi has several top products in this sector, covering various aspects of it. E-wallets are a major component, but not the only one.
“We offer an integrated series of products that all work together seamlessly,” he says. “I know wallets are the darling of this conversation, but the reality is many Everi products—such as Everi’s QuikTicket, which allows the purchase of a TITO ticket from a PIN debit transaction—fit in with the cashless narrative.
“QuikTicket doesn’t require a mobile account or wallet to use, and our unique infrastructure and technology allows patrons to send those TITO tickets back to their banks using a Visa debit card and without having to sign up for an account that requires the patron to go through KYC. This is a full cashless cycle that is self-service and can be deployed across our entire customer base without needing patron enrollment.”
The cashless operation requires even a deeper dive of analysis, he says. The area has several parts to it.
“I think this goes beyond cashless in payments terms,” he says. “When we talk about a cashless operation, we must think about full operational implications—first, the importance of having our ATMs, which are wallet- and check-enabled, or our ticket redemption units, which are also wallet- and check-enabled.
“When you look at operations with casino staff, our Jackpot Xpress product, for example, allows for an efficient face-to-face payment of a jackpot with the patron, where they can also open a wallet for the patron. Operators already have the data, so it’s a unique opportunity for face-to-face engagement, opening a digital wallet, and moving funds to it.”
The concierge product family takes the cage mobile for credit, debit, wallet and check. It enables purchase of chips at the table, and supports TITO redemption and printing at the table or pit. Together, these can extend convenience of cashless beyond self-service use cases to where patrons need them—without high-friction enrollment or existing behavior changes, according to Newsom.
Everi also has established itself as a leader in the fintech space and created a leading cashless solution across the land-based casino industry, Newsom says. The product was designed to serve the growing focus on building an omnichannel solution.
Everi has several money transmitter licenses. Money can move just as cash would and can move across state lines. A single wallet account can be used at multiple physical locations in addition to extending to digital channels like iGaming.
Branching out to new markets, Newsom says regulations between traditional land-based casinos and iGaming are different.
One specifically unique area is verification of the player. In a land-based environment, staff can easily and quickly review ID and various tools ensure the authenticity of documents they may provide.
According to Newsom, every jurisdiction is different, but in the land-based space, there is still an abundance of regulatory language that requires in-person ID verification (even when a player is looking to move to a cashless solution), he notes.
The digital channel creates a different experience.
“There are several players in the IDV (ID verification) space,” he says. “It’s a common experience across the financial industry to have a solution that requires an ID with an image and scanning the document (front/back typically) as well as a liveness check that matches biometrics to the ID. These tools have grown in sophistication and provide a great layer of security. Additionally, there may be a need for a player to provide additional information such as an SSN for added layers of security.”
Newsom says one of the industry quandaries is the fragmented and often poor user experience that comes from separate accounts in the brick-and-mortar and online gaming worlds.
“A player who likes to play in traditional casinos as well as digitally (whether it be iGaming or even sports betting) may find himself or herself having to have three apps, with three balances—each balance designated for specific use in that designated channel,” he indicates.
“The complexity of payments and money movement shouldn’t be placed on the player, but should be placed on the organizations providing the solution. Our goal is to create a single view of funds that can easily be seen across all endpoints. This removes the confusion of a player who may have a balance for iGaming of $100 and $500 in their land-based wallet, but they want to use more than $100 in the iGaming channel but can’t easily access the $500 that’s in a different wallet. If we want adoption, we must, as an industry, remove friction.”
Christopher Justice, president of Global Payments Gaming Solutions, hails perhaps the most important spoke in the iGaming wheel.
“While it may not seem like it, the payments process is among the most important aspects of the entire experience,” he indicates. “The winners in the iGaming market will be the gaming institutions that pay close attention to every detail of the overall patron journey.”
Ultimately, vertical integration is the ideal solution for gaming institutions to offer highly advanced technology with top-of-the-line security, he adds. By implementing vertical integration, casinos can specifically design every step of the patron journey. They can control every aspect, from customer awareness to acquisition, to ongoing utilization.
Justice touts VIP Preferred, the company’s signature product in this sector, as a major difference-maker.
VIP Preferred links the patron’s checking account directly to the gaming institution, creating a payments experience that is unrivaled in convenience and efficiency, Justice says. The product also interacts with the company’s other payments solutions like VIP Mobility and VIP Financial Center, which integrate the usability of digital payments with the casino gaming experience.
VIP Preferred has been a fixture of the company’s product line for years, and is the core product that unites its suite of solutions. Three million patrons across the country use it to quickly and easily fund their play, according to Justice. The VIP Mobility app, which utilizes the VIP Preferred network, has a five-star rating in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, reflecting its convenience and usability.
Justice says VIP Preferred is for bridging traditional and online gaming payments. “Using one system is generally the easiest way to bridge the traditional and iGaming or online sports betting divide,” he asserts. “This makes it easier for the gaming institution to process both kinds of payments and for patrons to enjoy both modes of wagering. The real trick for payments providers is to deliver different ways for the patron to interface with the shared payments program depending on how the patron is playing.”
Justice adds that after just one signup, VIP Preferred users can instantly connect to both online and brick-and-mortar gaming institutions with the same account. VIP Preferred patrons enjoy the same user interface and experience across online and in-person gaming, which leads to higher adoption rates.
According to Justice, VIP Preferred is the company’s industry-standard ACH e-check network that bridges the online and in-person payments with one solution. It has implemented online banking integration at Circa Colorado and Action 24/7, with more expected to utilize the updated solution in 2023.
Online banking integration allows patrons to sign up for VIP Preferred digitally using online banking credentials, eliminating the need to sign up in person. VIP Preferred also uses Global Payments’ delayed settlement e-check offering, Choice4. Clients can extend e-check settlement by seven, 14, 21 or 28 days at all participating gaming institutions, according to Justice.
“Our VIP Preferred links the patron’s checking account directly to the gaming institution, creating a payments experience that is unrivaled in convenience and efficiency,” Justice says.
“As the largest vertically integrated payments provider in the gaming industry, VIP Preferred users enjoy lower fees, higher limits, one-time enrollment and the ability to use a single account across both land-based casinos and our network of iGaming and online sports betting operators.”
Winning from End to End
Leighton Webb, vice president and general manager of iGaming and sports betting for PayNearMe, says 2022 fashioned incredible growth for online gaming. Scalability is key during this rapid growth period, he says, as operators need to select platforms getting them to market quickly within new territories, with all major tender types.
“Casino operators are beginning to focus more heavily on the iGaming and online casino side of their operations, as those customers come with higher margins and lead to greater profitability,” he says. “Smaller operators will have to innovate to capture this market. These operators will be on the hunt for all-in-one platforms that will improve the overall payment experience—increasing customer conversion rates—while allowing them to optimize their business operations, driving costs down.”
Webb says PayNearMe is well-suited to be a major player in this sector.
“We want to spread the word that we are the only payments platform to offer an end-to-end solution, built from the ground up, specifically to meet the needs of the online betting industry,” Webb says. “While PayNearMe has a long history of providing a great experience in cash deposits for digital companies, we want our customers to know that we do so much more in the iGaming and sports betting payments space. We’re excited to have expanded to electronic payments with our MoneyLine platform, giving our operators access to the most requested digital payment types such as ACH, PayPal, Venmo and ApplePay.”
Webb says his company’s single payments platform allows iGaming players to deposit and withdraw with ease, enhancing player satisfaction and retention.
“According to our 2022 research, when players have the payment methods they’re comfortable and familiar with baked into a seamless payment experience, they’re more likely to bet more frequently and at higher amounts,” he asserts. “In addition, our single-platform approach streamlines business operations for our customers, giving them a single contact for all payment types across all legal states.”
Webb says PayNearMe is on the cusp of announcing several platform updates in 2023. While that period approaches, the company likes the response it has received to a 2022 rollout.
“One exciting product we launched in 2022 that’s completely unique to PayNearMe is our Cardless Cash at ATM withdrawal feature,” he indicates. “It gives players the satisfaction of near-instant payouts, mimicking the experience of gaming at a brick-and-mortar casino and cashing out the same day. This will help bridge the gap between the traditional and digital gaming experience, where we know the gap is typically caused by lagging payouts.”
Online customers can choose to get same-day payouts in cash at any one of over 18,000 participating local ATMs. These transactions do not require a physical card, just a user-selected PIN and a code provided by the PayNearMe platform via text message. It’s simple, straightforward, and fast, according to Webb.
The benefits can boil down to one concept.
“Lightning-fast payouts,” he asserts. “We know this is what players want—and we know they aren’t getting it nearly enough, based on our research. Rather than waiting more than 24 hours for payouts, sometimes as long as a week, they’re getting their money same-day. That’s a necessity, not a perk. Online gaming should mimic in-person gaming as closely as possible if operators don’t want to lose customers.”
The company also supplies the MoneyLine platform, which offers the complete suite of deposit and withdrawal options players want. MoneyLine itself debuted in 2021 as an all-in-one platform specifically built to simplify the payment experience for iGaming and online sports betting operators. It gives operators access to the most in-demand deposit and withdrawal options, all from a single platform and a single integration. It looks forward to optimizing its product to fit the changing needs of the online betting industry as it progresses.
Across the industry, the ability to anticipate—and service—change will determine winners and losers as gaming celebrates its new revenue niche.
Ohio is the next test case. Massachusetts should be right on its heels. And the race is on for companies to link players with their funds.