Digital payments have disrupted the gaming industry over the past few years, but the question looms: Where do these advances lead the industry into the future?
Mandi Hart, chief client solutions officer at Sightline Payments, said “omnichannel” is the buzzword in the industry today and land-based operations, sports betting, and igaming are starting to converge.
“We’re now talking to sports fans,” Hart said. “We’re talking to the general population and not a person who is accustomed to coming into a casino and (requiring) cash to play. We are talking about a person who has never dealt with challenges of making a payment for a purpose.”
Because of omnichannel and the chance to bridge that gap with the experience, it’s imperative that consumers have access to their funds. The industry is “meeting people where they are without creating additional friction,” Hart said.
The online world is heading for a collision with the brick-and-mortar world, just like has happened with Amazon, according to Michael Kaplan, chief revenue officer for PayNearMe. Players want a seamless Amazon-like experience. They want the checks and balances they have online to translate to land-based casinos, he said.
“It’s important for operators, particularly regionals that want to compete online with some of the juggernauts. Leveraging that brick-and-mortar access in a way that allows them to acquire a player at a lower cost will be a big play for regionals. You can’t outspend the big boys. You can’t go toe to toe from a marketing perspective. You need to leverage your existing assets. You have content. You have loyalty. You have payments. You can use your loyalty program to get your players in and facilitating payments and money movement is an effective way for smaller operators to compete.”
From an operator’s perspective, payments are key. The data that can be accrued from omnichannel “is absolutely phenomenal,” according to Clark Dumas, director of customer success for Trustly.
“You understand player behavior and maximize your CRM (customer relationship management) system to market to those players no matter where they are,” Dumas said. “Just look at how Vegas tier-levered their VIP cards in order to market to folks when they get back home for either igaming or their sports’ team.”
Once they start collecting data on, for example, on who’s betting on sports, operators can start shooting marketing emails to them, perhaps matching a bet for $500, Dumas said. “It’s a great way to maximize deposits.”
“As a payment provider, we can aggregate and provide that data to you. Credit-card companies have been doing this for years. They sell an aggregation of someone’s behavior. We can say this is a player you’ve never seen before, and in the overall industry, he’s in the 90th percentile of VIPs, and this is where you should spend your money.”
Hart said payment providers are helping drive innovation that allows operators to automate marketing, loyalty, and retention, then transfer take that relationship with consumers to their wallets.
“The exciting thing about payments today is having the opportunity to affect more than just a transaction and helping the industry continue to improve on consumer experiences,” Hart said.
That means the ability to pay for entertainment, bet on slots, and make a sports wager, Hart said in exemplifying “omnichannel.”
In the end, though, a payment providers’ responsibility is to meet customers where they are, Kaplan said.
“Customers still like using cash, and credit cards are just as easily stolen as cash,” Kaplan said. “I don’t think cash is going away.”