The next cash cow in the gaming industry may well be… cashless.
This dynamic industry sector sparks optimism for vendors and operators alike, who seek to enhance both bottom lines and customer satisfaction with this prominent, cutting-edge niche.
Technology advancements drive the innovation that helps the major stakeholders unclog the congestion of signup and collections lines. Their race to bring enhancements to the fingertips of gamblers fuels new products and plans, all of which will be on display at G2E 2022.
Let’s take a look at some of the latest advancements from the leading figures in today’s cashless market:
IGT: Maximizing the Resort Wallet
“IGT has been the leader of cashless innovation since TITO in late 1990s and continued to lead when we introduced our Resort Wallet solution,” says Ryan Reddy, senior vice president of global product marketing and payments for IGT.
“The new era of cashless is about enabling players to fund their Resort Wallet with external funding methods. IGT’s solution for this is our award-winning solution which combines IGTPay with Resort Wallet. There is a tremendous amount of interest, and we expect a significant amount of growth in this area via casino adoption and player adoption.”
At G2E, the company plans to unveil a major showcase involving these products, along with related features in its IGT Advantage casino management suite. IGT’s systems team will demonstrate the company’s award-winning Resort Wallet with IGTPay cashless gaming solution and how it can integrate into point-of-sale systems for enterprise-wide use.
The company also will highlight Resort Wallet’s integration with Marker Trax casino marker technology. As modules of the IGT Advantage casino management system, the fully integrated, turnkey cashless gaming solution generates a range of demonstrable benefits for both operators and players, Reddy indicates.
“Prior to land-based casinos adopting cashless gaming, IGT was providing cashless payment technologies and services to iGaming, lottery, iLottery and sports betting operators across the globe,” he asserts. “In fact, last year we hit the $1 billion milestone for transactions processed in the U.S. since 2018 across our payments solutions for clients.”
Reddy says Resort Wallet and IGT Pay offer players a variety of advantages.
“Besides giving players added choice and convenience for how they fund play, IGT’s cashless solution affords players a range of security and safety-enhancing features,” Reddy says. “Additionally, a player’s virtual wallet sits within a PIN-protected Cashless Wagering Account on a smartphone mobile app which has many proven, embedded controls including face and fingerprint biometrics, and multiple password controls. As another security measure, patrons cannot create Cashless Wagering Accounts without meeting verification of identification requirements.”
IGT’s Resort Wallet and IGTPay systems also have many embedded responsible gaming controls that can be made available to players. Such features include daily deposit limits, maximum limits for their Resort Wallet balance and a module that alerts players based upon individual budgeting thresholds.
The Resort Wallet-IGTPay combination has been an integral part of the company’s product rollout amid major industry transformation. Whereas TITO was a technological and behavioral shift specific to the gaming industry, the expansion of mobile convenience apps such as IGT’s Resort Wallet and IGTPay is part of a global transformation that extends far beyond the footprint of a casino.
“We have been experiencing this growth in technology adoption for decades, but the pandemic and consumer adoption of cashless solutions generally have significantly accelerated the cashless gaming trend, and operators quickly became interested in IGT cashless gaming solutions,” Reddy says. “Cashless gaming is just one of many ways that operators can offer their patrons an attractive, future-forward experience that many guests have come to expect in retail and entertainment environments. Cashless is no longer an aspiration of the future; it is here, slot players are using it, and it is helping our customers achieve their goals.”
For operators who are not ready to take the full leap into cashless gaming with external funding, IGT offers “Carded Cashless” and “Cardless Cashless” deployment options of Resort Wallet, Reddy indicates.
Guests at a casino with a Carded Cashless solution can use 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.
At casinos with Cardless Cashless deployments, players can use an app on a mobile device to access a Cashless Wagering Account, and 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, he says. They can then transfer funds between slot machines onsite, as well as between a casino’s sister properties.
Acres: Foundation of a New Era
“Cashless is in the ‘Prove It’ era,’” says Noah Acres of Acres Manufacturing.
“A few pioneering operators have rolled out cashless and the rest of the industry is eagerly watching to see if the technology functions as advertised and if it delivers new profits. Some solutions will fail and be forgotten, while others will succeed and become widely implemented or even become the industry standard.”
Acres Manufacturing just released Cashless Casino, which Acres says is the industry’s best breed of cashless solution. It is an app that works with the company’s Foundation casino management system.
“We’ve installed more cashless gaming terminals in 2022 than all other systems providers combined,” Acres says. “At this year’s G2E we’re going to be showcasing how the loyalty and bonusing experience can be integrated with a cashless app.”
The application runs on Acres Manufacturing’s Foundation system, but casinos can continue using their existing CMS from Aristocrat, IGT, Konami or Light & Wonder, among others. Acres also touts Double Jackpot Time, a mobile bonus that players earn and choose to redeem via their mobile app. When the player pushes the Double Jackpot Time button during a live gaming session, all pays are doubled during the bonus round.
“Double Jackpot Time is thrilling to players while profitable for casinos,” he asserts. “Our objective is to produce revenue to the casino. Players will spend to earn Double Jackpot Time and continue their spend during the bonus period, but get enough fun and excitement in return to keep them coming back for more. This is directly counter to existing casino rewards, which are mainly non-revenue producing gifts like free play.”
Casinos want to wean their players off the free play addiction, Acres believes. Free play is expensive and quickly becomes an entitlement, which can become a real headache for operators.
The online market brings a unique element to all industry niches, including cashless. Patrons can play numerous games at their fingertips without having to travel to, park and walk through a brick-and-mortar facility. Operators and vendors want to bring the best in both of those worlds together.
“The online experience is personalized and delivered in real time,” Acres says. “Amazon, Facebook, Google and even online casinos are constantly analyzing your behavior to identify how to increase your engagement and spend. Everything we create is designed to bring the online experience to the bricks-and-mortar casino.“
Acres believes that cashless should be one part of a unified player experience.
“When casino players use a cashless app, the relationship never ends. Cashless gaming systems that do nothing but move money to the game will have low player adaptation. We’re focused on using the loyalty and entertainment elements.”
Aristocrat: Advancing the Oasis Brand
Aristocrat believes digitization of the gaming experience through mobile devices will play a key role in how the industry progresses in the near and long term.
What excites Aristocrat leaders about mobile apps is that they are the centerpiece of convergence in Aristocrat’s land-based and online real-money gaming vision of the future. Digitization in the land-based space converges with online gaming apps in a very interesting way for players to have new ways to engage with the operator’s brands.
Aristocrat’s Our Oasis Digital Wallet enables players to seamlessly experience online and land-based entertainment from a central funds location.
Nearly 17,000 land-based devices and counting are connected to the Oasis Digital Wallet, which is a part of the company’s Oasis casino management system offering, officials say.
Oasis has stayed true to the company’s open architecture structure and has created a vast network of certified funding partners. This network ensures casino operators can select their preferred funding partner in their digital and cashless strategy. That’s a big difference for operators, because it allows them flexibility while also encouraging competition among funders to provide the best service and rates, officials say.
Aristocrat officials consider this sector an exciting part of gaming’s future. At G2E, the company will demonstrate how its Digital Wallet is providing flexibility and convergence opportunities to create the best choice for operators. Players can have a completely digital experience, in which they can fund their gaming wallet and game play through the app, or load cash at the cage or game level.
Once the wallet is funded, the player can download credits to the slot by using the mobile wallet feature through PlayerMax, or the casino’s preferred concierge-style app.
Operators have many choices on implementing their cashless strategy. They can engage with their funding partner of choice, then select their mobile concierge platform of choice. Finally, they can choose if they want nCompass only, or would like to have an elevated, truly cashless, contactless experience by implementing Mobile nCompass.
Marker Trax : A Credit to Cashless
Marker Trax officials consider this an exciting gaming era. They believe the industry has not enjoyed much conscious, deliberate innovation since the advent of TITO. But now everything has kicked into high gear, in their estimation due to the rise of cashless technology. The technology is progressing at an incredible rate, and they expect Marker Trax to be a major player.
The company believes that most other gaming products, regardless of their sector of the industry, target primarily either the end user or the operator. They say Marker Trax (which is the name of both the company and the product) addresses the needs and concerns of both, through a cashless casino marker system that is both convenient for the player and wholly secure for the operator.
On the player side, the company tries to get players right to their favorite games. After completing the enrollment process on the convenient mobile app, funds are immediately available for download to the player’s machine. Most players can sign up, get approved, and be back at their games within 10 minutes. It’s a completely cashless solution. The marker is loaded directly into the player’s account via the resort player’s card, so all they have to do is insert their card and play.
On the operator side, Marker Trax significantly reduces the inherent business risks of issuing traditional markers. Rather than waiting for the player to pay the marker back in person, Marker Trax credit lines are paid back as soon as the player pushes the cash-out button on their machine, officials say.
This reduced risk, combined with requiring lower overhead costs than traditional, multi-step approval processes, also opens up a brand new customer base to casino credit. With less risk overall, operators can offer credit to more players. The company considers this an important consideration, estimating that upwards of 15 percent of all casino drop comes by way of markers.
Occupying such a large segment of the total money being spent, it was absolutely fertile ground for innovation and, locally speaking, credit drives business on the Strip—some properties see upwards of 50 percent of their gross gaming revenue from credit.
Marker Trax also sees a connection between TITO and cashless as industry advancements. Its officials believe people see TITO as a massive convenience over the old coin-in/coin-out process, but notes that the innovation was also designed to maximize a player’s time on the machine, benefiting the operator.
Marker Trax says the cashless realm and its product is different because it is designed to benefit both sides. Cashless systems ideally produce higher profits for operators, but they enhance the player experience with a system more convenient and secure than dealing with cash.
The company has big plans for the big stage of G2E, as it will unveil a new level of payment efficiency with KOIN Mobile, LLC. KOIN combines all the traditional advantages of a digital wallet with the added benefits of being a fully integrated financial network.
This next-generation cashless payment network will show operators how cashless can and should be utilized to transform gaming, the company says.
Axes: Awaiting the G2E Stage
“We are in the ‘dazed and confused’ era of cashless,” according to Earle G. Hall, CEO of Axes.ai.
“Ignorance, misinformation, and fake news are poisoning the most important quantum leap in the history of land-based gaming,” he asserts. “Cashless reminds me of blockchain. It has been marketed and integrated all wrong.”
Hall says Axes is the only true cashless company in the land-based gaming industry, and the company was created to do just that. Axes will correct the cashless failure curve, and G2E is the launch of its offensive, centered around three core products:
• Its Go Cashless Platform that integrates all types of cashless
• Its Captivate & Engage Platform that drives player loyalty
• Its Business Intelligence Platform that feeds real-time information to everything the company offers.
“G2E is a hallmark year for Axes,” Hall says. “After 10 years of developing and deploying parts of its products, technology, and platform, we will be demonstrating at G2E the entire platform for the first time. ”
Here is how Hall breaks down what Axes will show:
Go Cashless – Open & Closed Loop Full-Service Platform
The platform will be demonstrating two main processes:
1. Seamless open-to-closed and closed-to-open loop transactions with real-time bank account opening and cash transfers directly to the machine and back to the bank account, including all KYC and client onboarding.
2. Integration between all cashless products such as e-wallet, smart card, TITO, cashier desk and kiosks.
Captivate & Engage – Player Engagement Platform
According to Hall, cashless is 100 percent dependent upon how to captivate and engage clients to give them the motivation to migrate to cashless.
The company will be demonstrating:
• Real-Time Promotions and Rewards
• Fully customizable Player’s Club Engine
• Dynamic Research and Extensive Criteria Marketing Campaign Engine
• Mobile Gamification Engine in the Player’s App
• Point of Sale Integration for promotions, rewards and player’s club
Business Intelligence Platform
One of Axes’ key strengths is fully integrated, real-time information for everything happening on a casino floor. Some of the things the company will be showing include:
• Standard and on-the-fly reports with real-time information
• Automated reporting that can be scheduled and sent to anyone at anytime
• Custom reports from “Wizard” that can handle up to 100 separate criteria
• Player journey and player value reporting
• Player behavior and stickiness reporting
• Machine performance and machine value reporting
G2E also is the debut of the company’s Digital Out of Home (DooH) Real-time Media and Ads Platform. This real-time ad management platform is connected in real time with ad buyers from all over the world to capture the untapped value of media at a gaming machine.
Global Payments: The VIP Realm
Christopher Justice, CEO of Global Payments, believes the cashless realm needs to continue its steady ascent.
“Cashless payments in the gaming industry are still a relatively new phenomenon,” he says. “Just a few years ago, the idea of using a mobile device to fund wagering was unheard of. However, we are beginning to see cashless payments for gaming grow more sophisticated and catch up to the rest of the payments industry.”
The shift to cashless payments has made casino gaming more accessible to a broader group of people, he adds. People are less likely to carry around large amounts of cash and more likely to pay for things virtually, so casinos that offer cashless payments are more familiar to more people. Because it makes commercial gaming available via the internet, where it is legalized, new funding methods have been introduced.
“iGaming was one factor that bridged the gap between old-fashioned casino gaming and cutting-edge digital payments,” Justice says. “Ideally, iGaming payments mirror other online transactions, leveraging digital technology for unparalleled convenience. Online payment solutions are not limited to iGaming. As online gaming becomes more popular, patrons may expect that same payments experience at in-person casinos.”
At G2E, Global Payments will present its innovative solutions within VIP Preferred , such as VIP Mobility, VIP Financial Center and others.
“VIP Preferred is our industry-standard e-check network,” says Justice. “VIP Preferred connects patrons with more than 400 online and in-person gaming institutions. It is the fastest, safest payments solution for the gaming industry, enabling quick and easy funding.”
Justice says VIP Mobility is the industry’s first mobile solution enabling true cashless gaming. It allows patrons to fund their favorite games and pay for other amenities around the resort on their mobile device. VIP Mobility allows patrons to scan their favorite slot or table game using a QR code. They can then fund their games with their VIP Preferred account, all while having full control of their spending, right from their smartphone device.
VIP Financial Center is Global Payments’ all-in-one self-service solution, complete with self-service TITO ticket redemption, bill breaking, VIP Preferred e-check, ATM and cash advance capabilities, according to Justice. VIP Financial Center is a full-service kiosk solution. Patrons need only select which service they need, whether it be entering their TITO tickets, accessing their VIP Preferred account or simply getting cash.
“Our products utilize Global Payments’ e-check offering, Choice4,” he adds. “Choice4 allows clients to extend e-check settlement by seven, 14, 21 or 28 days. Through Choice4, Global Payments offers the highest limits in the industry by underwriting the risk for those transactions in order to protect the casinos.”
VIP Preferred makes funding simple and straightforward, he says. VIP Mobility gives patrons the same payments experience they have come to expect in all other aspects of life. It’s also an all-in-one cashless funding solution. Patrons can use VIP Mobility to pay at bars, restaurants and other locations around the resort.
VIP Financial Center allows patrons to access the services they need without having to wait in line at the cage. It is a complete payment ecosystem for the gaming industry.
Flexia: Eliminating Barriers for Entry
Flexia CEO Craig Libson says the company will showcase the Flexia Cashless app with a multi-account Flexia Mastercard (digital or physical) at G2E.
“We’ll also highlight the Flexia Platform, which bridges the closed-loop gaming platforms and the open-loop financial networks,” he says. “We’re also excited to demonstrate the fastest, most efficient onboarding process in the industry.”
Libson says the company designed the Flexia solution to eliminate the consumers’ pain points by providing instant enrollment, instant funding, and instant access to funds, with meaningful benefits.
“We are now working on our fourth casino management system integration, expanding Flexia’s potential footprint to reach hundreds of casino locations, and as we tailor the casino systems and use cases to the various needs and wants, we are really seeing how revolutionary the Flexia system is,” Libson says. “We are being asked for a Blackberry and we are delivering an iPhone, and the reactions from our partners and casino operators is incredibly fulfilling.”
He says that in three minutes, the company can register and onboard a customer, putting a Flexia multi-account cashless product in their hand.
“As many operators have realized, one of the major obstacles to player adoption has been the lengthy enrollment process of some of the cashless systems in the market,” Libson says.
“Our easy enrollment process removes those barriers, and the Flexia Cashless app and multi-account card are a much more efficient method of engaging with the machines. Also, through our open-loop Flexia Mastercard, operators have access to and can track player preferences and spending habits outside the casino—something they didn’t have before—and can utilize this data to market to their players more effectively and customize promotions in the app.”
It should be some show at G2E.