Although Las Vegas-based Acres Technology is not a publicly traded company, it stands at a sufficiently important nexus of cashless gaming for Truist Securities analyst Barry Jonas to highlight it on a conference call with Acres management.
What make Acres important, in Jonas’ view, are its alliances with Everi, “the most direct public-investor play for cashless,” and Penn National Gaming, “an early adopter at the forefront of the cashless trend.” Cashless technology, wrote Jonas, “could revolutionize the traditionally analog casino industry.”
In the case of Penn, Acres is helping develop the company’s MyWallet payment system. Acres supplies Penn with its Foundation hardware, which acts as a bridge between Everi’s applications and Penn’s software, “enabling a minimally disruptive roll-out of Penn’s cashless solution.” MyWallet has been implemented at nine of Penn’s casinos. According to Penn, it’s a hit with customers, with early adopters visiting casinos 18 percent more frequently and spending 22 percent more time at the slots.
John and Noah Acres, in talking with Jonas, highlighted several salient advantages to cashless payment processing. For one, cashless players can be automatically enrolled in loyalty programs, saving them from having to sign up discretely. Also, casinos can spend less on cash-handling and bill-validation technology, especially “as bill-validation components become obsolete.” And last, but hardly least, cashless gaming can appeal to a younger demographic, growing the ability to lure them to the casino floor.
John Acres lamented the limitations of his own customer-management systems (CMS) of the past, which couldn’t access player data feeds in real time. He then noted that Acres Foundation hardware “is designed to be CMS-agnostic and sits on top of existing systems’ architecture – granting operators the ability to access and share real-time data feeds.” This should enable operators to inform players of bonuses won and to market to them in a direct personalized manner, “improving the customer experience, while potentially increasing gaming profitability.”
(Interestingly, this is what server-based gaming was supposed to, but apparently didn’t, achieve a decade ago.)
The Acres family outlined a future in which cashless gaming is merely the next natural evolution, just as coins gave way to bill acceptors, bills transitioned to ticket-in/ticket-out devices (TITO), and now TITO is going paperless altogether.
“Acres believes the gaming industry will see rapid cashless adoption in the coming years for the reasons we’ve highlighted above, with a belief of ~90% adoption by 2025,” reported Jonas.
The Acres father-son pair warned that casinos that don’t move with the cashless trend could find themselves in a metaphorical backwater. Cash-friendly “legacy” players will be winnowed out with age and their younger cohort will gravitate to cashless casinos.
Slot players, at least, are an easier proposition at the moment.
Concluded Jonas, “Acres noted an area for improvement is around table games, but they do see the potential for table units to be redesigned to better facilitate cashless and player tracking.”