Why Is the Gaming Industry Still Managing Payments Like It’s 1985?

It’s time to create a seamless and convenient system for our guests

By Christopher Justice

The gaming industry is one of the most complex in the world, from back-office operations to consumer expectations. Consider the dynamics of your own gaming experience: slot machines, table games and rapidly growing sports betting offerings. Then add in the complexity of managing the experience across the entire property: restaurants, hotels, bars, conference centers and live entertainment. The more pieces you stack together, the more siloed and antiquated the experience grows.

For example, a guest – possibly one at your property right now – is sitting at their favorite slot machine, and she just ran out of cash. She believes that the machine is just about to hit a jackpot, and now she has to get up, walk down the aisle to find a kiosk or the cage, stand in line, pay a fee to get cash and then return to her slot. But to her dismay, when she returns, someone else is in her seat. Does she find another device or just leave unhappy about the lost opportunity and poor guest experience?

Take another example from iGaming and sports betting. Credit card decline rates average out to approximately 60 percent every day. Why? Banks don’t want to back-stop the bet. But who does the guest blame? You, of course. Now you’ve lost revenue, provided a poor guest experience and damaged your brand, all in a single transaction.

These challenges are not new – but they are growing more relevant. Consumers increasingly expect Amazon-like experiences everywhere they go. And the repeal of PASPA has blown the doors open to new digital competitors eager to fill your shoes. Yet, a trip to the casino remains a lot like watching Back to the Future.

The road to payment modernization is full of potholes, but it’s navigable. Operators who are serious about modernizing their player experience need to begin looking for solutions that answer these questions:

Is it built with regulations in mind?

The regulatory environment is an important aspect of the industry, as it protects game integrity, promotes responsible play and reduces criminal activity. As such, the product development timeframe associated with releasing solutions in the market can exceed three years due to the testing and validation required to ensure compliance. Add payment system regulations to the mix and the complexity of the puzzle expands. So how should you think about it?

It is important to consider solutions that start with your jurisdiction’s regulations in mind. The most efficient path to success relates to solutions that address them in the affirmative. It should also address payment regulation complexity and deliver a mix of funding options that provide a positive guest experience.

Some mobile solutions that directly credit a gaming device open the door to regulations that require certification of the mobile device and downloaded application. Imagine if your team members had to validate these for every guest. That’s a non-starter, isn’t it?

If the solution is a traditional wallet, it likely opens the door to increased regulation from the banking industry for Reg E, and may also require the provider to have a money transmitter license. Wallet solutions may require your organization to establish bank accounts to comply with the rules and regulations for holding and segregating guest funds, and produce monthly statements.

There are a variety of ways to accomplish the desired result, so you’ll want to be clear on the obligations and responsibilities of what you’re signing up for.

Does it work with the existing infrastructure?

Historically, the thought of adding new technology to the casino floor inspires a panic attack. Secure environments, accounting processes, internal controls, risk management – each has its own carefully managed environment. But with more ways to connect than ever, smart technology partners are creating new, less disruptive avenues for delivering innovation.

Will it work everywhere?

A partially modern experience is, in fact, not modern at all. And despite being under the same roof, many casinos have siloed payment processes within their operations. A casino must seek reliable technology that is easy to use and seamlessly integrates across the property.

Will your guests adopt it?

Consumers love Amazon because it’s ridiculously simple. And ridiculously simple is increasingly becoming their default expectation. Throw in the dynamics of aging land-based casino guests (and associated requirements, such as ADA compliance), and the need for simplicity becomes even more apparent. Friction fails and clicks kill – there’s simply no way around it.

Let’s leave the 80s in the 80s.

The retail industry has undergone a sea change with the introduction and adoption of e-commerce. Consumers are leveraging their mobile phones to manage virtually every aspect of their finances. A casino patron likely used their smartphone to summon a ride-share service to bring them to the casino, where they then expect a similarly convenient, seamless experience. Those operators who are investing in providing that will be equipped to meet (and exceed) the expectations of their guests – and regulators – well into the future.

Christopher Justice is a veteran leader in the world’s payment and commerce industry. He is currently President of Gaming Solutions for Global Payments, a leading global payment technology company. He is also a board member of the American Gaming Association, and iDEA, an association dedicated to online gaming.

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