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Tender Touch

How kiosks are revolutionizing gaming

Tender Touch

Touch screen, touch points.

Kiosks sport increased influence in the gaming world. From hotel check-ins to food ordering, cash dispensing and now sports betting, these unofficial goodwill ambassadors flaunt new stature. Perhaps no other device mingles with so many revenue areas. Kiosks also have an envied parallel use in other industries: at airports, at doctor’s offices, in supermarkets. Casino patrons already embrace this technology.

What an ascent. The sector once primarily dealt funds the way gas stations replenish a car’s tank. Then its role spread to check-cashing, wayfinding, messaging and jackpot pay. Kiosks became freestanding, wall-mounted, hand-held forms of customer service, used on walls, in corners, in lobbies, or near the gaming action.

A look around the industry reveals their new creative deployment. Some extend kiosk features to a phone. Others lessen the costly check-in and check-out logjam. Food courts increasingly use them to speed delivery methods.

Kiosks also become a flashpoint in the proliferation of sports betting.


Mobile MVP

For Las Vegas-based MGT, the kiosk realm is transportable, expanding its game-changing theme.

The company has long captured public imagination by delivering promos through a game format. This enables customers to earn their comps via board games, collect-and-win competitions and contests like The Price is Right. It’s a slick way to schmooze, entice and invite players into a company property or its promotional umbrella. The games indirectly play the role of a 24-hour casino host.

Given people’s nonstop appetite for access via phones, MGT developed the next step in this process. It will be unveiled at the Indian Gaming Tradeshow as the MGT Mobile Kiosk. Customers may recognize it as an actual app under a tailored casino brand.

“What we’re excited about is the idea of an operator extending the kiosk experience for their patrons,” says Travis Carrico, the company’s sales and marketing vice president. “Beyond your casino, you can provide customers your promotional rewards and games, allow them to play outside the casino environment and use that as an incentive to come back to the property.

“A person might be sitting on his couch, play a game and find out he has just won $20 in free slot play if he can get off the couch and get to the casino within 24 hours. That’s just one example. There are many. Casinos have patrons actively involved in the outcome of the promo, which can be delivered through the kiosk and now by the smartphone. You also have sweepstakes drawing, valet parking, checking into your hotel from the phone, among other benefits.”

The company has dealt with other areas of casino-customer interaction. MGT Promo allows the casino marketing department to create any promotion, including electronic drawings, scratch cards, swipe-to-win, new member bonuses, bounce-backs, age-based or other demographic-based promotions. The system operates through an interface to the casino’s player tracking system and touch-screen kiosks. When players swipe their cards at the kiosk, the system instantly evaluates them and determines the right reward from a prize matrix based on the reinvestment rate that was predefined for the player’s tier in the setup of the promotion.

In a less publicized but equally important realm, Carrico emphasizes MGT’s financial commitment to due diligence. He cites recent news stories about data being sent from kiosks and the back-end server unencrypted over publicly accessible internet. Concerns have been raised that not only could gamblers’ private information be shared, but kiosks could be identified by their MAC address and players could have their account totals changed.

Protection against hacking means spending money in areas that don’t generate direct revenue, which MGT has done.

“With all the data available, we know how important it is to be secured and encrypted,” Carrico says. “We are highly focused on the security of the encryption we do with our API. It takes time and money to test and make sure that due diligence is being met.

“When we tested our Promo Suite in Rhode Island, we brought in a third party to see if there are any weaknesses that needed to be fixed before we put anything on casino floors. We are diligent about making the information secure.”


Express Train

rGuest Express Kiosk

Sometimes, fast and steady wins the race.

Kiosks reducing check-in times are invaluable, particularly to customers enduring a cross-country flight to gamble. A check-in of 30 minutes to an hour at the end of a 12-hour cross-country travel day creates a risky first impression to the gambler. A system bypassing that logjam produces a strong one.

More properties have reduced overhead and enhanced customer satisfaction by providing a kiosk.

Agilysys, the Alpharetta, Georgia-based global provider of next-generation hospitality software solutions and services, maintains an aggressive presence in the kiosk space. One of its latest introductions is rGuest Express Kiosk, designed to expedite guest service with self-service kiosk check-in, room key encoding, check-out and folios via email.

Company officials say rGuest Kiosk expedites guest service operations by enabling them to check in, encode a room key, check out and email a folio—all without having to wait in line at the front desk. The rGuest Express Kiosk is a self-service solution that integrates with both Agilysys Visual One PMS and Agilysys Lodging Management System.

  • The rGuest Express Kiosk allows guests to obtain an email copy of their folios at any time during their stay, without checking out.
  • Guests can also request that folio receipts be emailed or mailed to an address based on information captured in Visual One or LMS. Special messages, vouchers and printed instructions can be provided to guests based on management-defined criteria.
  • By automating check-in and check-out, employees concentrate on providing the guest services that help create a lasting impression.
  • Guests can also reprint room keys at any time during their stay.

Agilysys has been a leader in hospitality software for more than 40 years and continually enhances its product lineup.

In 2017, Agilysys unveiled enhancements to rGuestBuy, its groundbreaking self-service kiosk POS solution that extends point-of-sale reach, improves guest service and reduces staff demand, plus enhancements for Café workflows and a new Grab N Go guest experience.

Company officials cite industry reports indicating that 63 percent of resort guests prefer kiosks as their paying vehicle for buying food.


Looking Automatic

Novomatic Americas broke from the gate quickly to embrace the sports-betting craze. Its F-V830 full-service sports betting kiosk made its debut late last year in North America.

The Novomatic F-V830 kiosk (right) equipped the opening of DraftKings Sportsbook at the Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City.

The kiosks, outfitted with the Kambi sports book platform, are located inside and outside of DraftKings Sportsbook, offering sports fans efficient ways to place a bet. The retail space also features five betting windows, stadium-style seating with device chargers, a VIP area, and a full-service bar with food, drink and bar-top video poker.

The market-leading sports betting kiosks, combined with Kambi’s sports betting products, proved to be a significant contributor to the overall guest experience. Draft Kings Sportsbook at Resorts Casino Hotel features a dozen of these intuitive solutions in an intimate environment surrounded by 1,000 square feet of ultra-high-definition digital video displays.

The Novomatic kiosks and Kambi’s sports betting expertise have combined to deliver a state-of-the-art, world-class sports betting environment, officials say. Kathleen McLaughlin, vice president of marketing and product management for Novomatic Americas, calls it “sports-betting nirvana.”


Taking a Shot

IGT PlayDigital’s PlayShot QuickBet Kiosks have taken another step toward acceptance from the players. IGT announced last month that patrons of the FanDuel Sportsbook at the New Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, New Jersey can now place sports wagers via the kiosks. The 14-unit installation is IGT’s first U.S. deployment of the kiosk technology, and makes the New Jersey-based FanDuel Sportsbook the first venue to leverage IGT’s complete omni-channel PlayShot sports betting solution including platform, retail, mobile and kiosk technologies.

“PlayShot’s flexible and fully integrable design enabled FanDuel to incorporate IGT PlayDigital’s PlayShot QuickBet kiosks into its world-class sports book ecosystem at the New Meadowlands Racetrack,” says Enrico Drago, senior vice president, IGT PlayDigital. “The self-service kiosks deliver the same high-quality user experience as the FanDuel website and mobile apps, and feature real-time pricing updates for a full range of markets to give players at the New Meadowlands Racetrack the best possible betting experience.”

The PlayShot QuickBet kiosk includes the innovative PlayShot Mobile Kiosk technology and the immersive CrystalBetting Terminal.


Kiosk Competition

Olea Monte Carlo kiosk

Olea, based outside of Los Angeles, is a kiosk powerhouse. Its clients include Boomtown, Caesars, Chickasaw Nation, Hard Rock, Tropicana and Empire Casino/Yonkers Raceway, among others. The company has deployed hundreds of kiosks in the gaming sector for player loyalty, and works with all software partners including Scientific Games, Agilysys and IGT properties, according to Craig Keefner, its manager of kiosks.

(Keefner also is a founding board member of the Kiosk Manufacturer Association and a member of the Kiosk Hall of Fame.)

From a sector viewpoint, Keefner cites a bullish Frost & Sullivan report on self-service kiosk projected revenue. It climbs dependably from 2014 results through 2022 in all major worldwide regions. This analysis reflects a trend the industry covets: a steadily improving niche, especially one that lowers labor costs.

Olea forecasts robust demand in the player-loyalty realm and growth potential in the hotel check-in, food/buffet ordering kiosks and sports betting areas.

“According to a May 2017 Oxford Economics Report, legalized sports betting is projected to generate $8.4 billion in new tax revenues, create more than 200,000 new jobs and add over $22 billion to the (U.S.) GDP,” he says. “The market has an inherent ‘burst cycle’ to it with the deadline on bets. You want to convert all those would-be bettors, and you have a limited time to do it. Mobile betting terminals that can be deployed at those times would help.”

What would that look like?

“Casinos will need to be well-prepared for the influx of new customers that will be flocking to their venues in hopes of placing their first legal sports bet,” he indicates. “As a result, many casinos are finding that sports betting kiosks provide the needed automated self-service solution to handle a higher volume of sports wagers without requiring the need for additional customer service staff.”

Keefner ties projected food-service demand to rising wages and focus on more healthful and costly menu items. “Whether deployed inside or at the drive-through, our units will speed orders and improve accuracy, all the while letting operators reassign staff to more critical roles,” he says.

All of this will keep the company busy. Olea designs and builds self-service terminals. Its 2019 fleet includes a line of cash/currency transactional “standard” units. Olea has been building for the OEM channel up to now, and has begun releasing those units as standard models.

“We make both player loyalty and the hotel check-in/self-order kiosks used in non-gaming mode,” Keefner says. “Generating player loyalty cards on the spot instantly is the main function. Our units can verify credentials such as a driver’s license and print ticket stock. Dual touch-screen displays are 22 inches, and accommodate wide-screen format for the software (16:9 aspect ratio as compared to older 5:4 aspect). There is an attractor screen to entice users and identify the purpose for the machine as well as programmable LEDs to add the Vegas or sizzle visual experience. Our Monte Carlo is our flagship unit.”

The product visually stimulates with two large displays and brilliant LED lighting. Keefner says named it the most innovative gaming kiosk for 2017.


Odd Couple

Everi CXC 5.0 L

Some partnerships go beyond connecting patrons and operators. It may involve two powerful industry segments coming together, showing a glimpse of the future.

Everi’s financial and Atrient’s promotional membership transactions merged into a dynamic showcase at ICE in London.

The companies demonstrated how Atrient’s PowerKiosk and Everi’s multi-function CXC 5.0 L kiosk can combine to enhance player loyalty and drive more funds to the gaming floor. Going forward, these companies figure to join forces in several ways.

Individually, each company has unfurled new products. Late in 2018, Atrient announced the release of V3, the newest version of its PowerKiosk suite. The kiosk employs facial recognition technology to allow patrons to log in to promotional devices without a player’s club card. Customers not utilizing facial recognition can also log in with an email address or mobile phone number. Traditional magnetic-striped and RFID cards will continue to be supported.

More recently, Atrient has touted PowerKiosk’s ability to be deployed onto mobile devices, game screens, video slots and stand-alone kiosks as an interactive, automated solution. Customers can log in, check balances and redeem promotional offers on their mobile devices. They gain similar access to their portfolio via the game screen of any machine with picture-in-picture technology.

Everi demonstrated a number of its innovative products. Chief among them was the CXC 5.0 L, its newest full-service kiosk with a smaller footprint and lower price point. It offers enhanced security features including a real-time rear-view camera as well as plentiful branding and marketing space. With full integration with other Everi Financial Technology solutions, such as CashClub DCCA/CCCA, Everi Compliance and the robust CashClub Wallet, these new kiosks give properties an opportunity to move cage-based transactions to the casino floor while still providing traditional functionality like ATM, ticket redemption and bill breaking.

Throughout the gaming and hospitality worlds, kiosks continue to gain traction. They are versatile, adaptable, and thus, essential to their operators.

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.