AGS GameON: Players using cashless wallets increase their casino spending

AGS GameON: Players using cashless wallets increase their casino spending

  • Mark Gruetze, CDC Gaming Reports
June 9, 2022 12:22 AM
  • Mark Gruetze, CDC Gaming Reports
  • Other

Players who use a casino’s cashless system for gambling tend to spend more, even though the technology is not yet perfected, two experts said Wednesday.

“It’s about a 15- to 20-percent increase in their funds access,” said Darren Simmons, executive vice president and FinTech business leader for Everi Holdings, whose CashClub Wallet debuted in late 2020. He said individual transactions tend to be smaller than comparable ones using physical cash, but users make more of them, “so they’re actually getting more cash.”

Omer Sattar, co-founder and co-CEO of Sightline Payments, said he had found a similar trend.

While consumers of nongaming industries typically spend 12-18 percent more after switching to electronic transactions, Sattar said, “We’re seeing a number much higher than that” – in some cases as much as 30 percent. He cautioned that operators should not expect that large a jump in slot drop, but they should weigh the increase in spending by customers using cashless against the reduction in casino income resulting from fewer people paying onsite ATM fees to access their money.

Sattar and Simmons spoke at an AGS GameON Customer Summit session called “Money Talks: Cashless Tech is Here to Stay.” David Lopez, the chief executive of AGS, moderated.

While the goal is to make cashless transactions as easy as possible for customers, Simmons and Sattar do not foresee what some might consider the ultimate attraction: a single e-wallet that could be used at any casino, regardless of brand or casino-management system. They said gaming executives do not want players to access money in one casino, then spend it at a competitor across the street.

Sattar said a universal e-wallet accepted at casinos throughout the United States would need 25 million customers. Building a brand of that size would require a $3 billion marketing campaign, “and no one’s cutting a $3 billion check,” he said.

Sattar cited table-game players as one hurdle that cashless technology providers must overcome.

“How do you get a consumer to sit down and easily buy into a table game without slowing the flow? Will you change the economics of the game by making it too slow?” he asked. He also pointed to basic questions, such as printing receipts to put into the drop box and how accountants treat a cashless buy-in.

Simmons said cashless transactions will not totally replace folding money.

“Cash is still king,” he said. “We’re fully invested in (cashless), but I think it’s about choice.” People use all sorts of different payment methods, including PayPal, Apple Pay, cash, and going to an ATM. “Our view is you give people choice. That’s what they want.”

Using cash provides a degree of anonymity, panelists said, and some players use cash as a sort of budgeting tool. If they spend the cash they brought or withdrew from an ATM, they’re done.

Sattar predicted that 50-60 percent of casino transactions will still be in physical money five years from now.

The rate of players converting to cashless will vary, he said, with destination resorts, such as those on the Las Vegas Strip, having fewer than other operations. He compared players to Starbucks customers who get a latte every three months and those who stop every workday.

“Are (occasional customers) really going to download the mobile app and create an account and re-fund the account? Do (they) really care about Starbucks loyalty?” he asked.

Simmons said one of Everi’s customers reported about 20 percent of active players use the cashless wallets, with more signing up each day.

Sattar and Simmons cited the safeguards that cashless transactions offer for responsible gambling and transparency of transactions.

Sattar said regulators now are quicker to accept cashless technology, a “completely different world from three or four years ago.”

Simmons said regulators value the responsible-gambling tools built into cashless transactions, including the ability to set personal spending limits or self-exclude.

Mark Gruetze is a veteran journalist from suburban Pittsburgh who covers casino gaming issues and personalities.