While casinos have been slow to adopt cashless gaming, industry experts said they’re discovering that customers with mobile wallets are spending more money on property than they previously did – simply by getting cash out of the ATM.
The gaming sessions at the TribalNet Conference & Tradeshow in Reno sparked some surprise with analysis that as few as 2% of tribal and commercial casinos have implemented cashless gaming, with others slow to follow in their payment footsteps. The bulk of casinos, however, are expected to adopt cashless by 2025, as patron interest increases and properties fear losing customers to higher-tech competitors.
Landon Stansfield, director of product management FinTech at Everi, a cashless-gaming provider, said data captured over the last two years shows that customers are increasing their spending.
Comparing their habits prior to cashless transactions at casinos, Stansfield said it’s 16%-17% higher across all segments. It’s even greater for those who spend in higher amounts.
Patrons who previously spent between $200 and $500 per visit have increased spending by 30%, Stansfield said. Those who spent $500 to $1,000 have increased spending by 24%.
Slot players who previously had to leave their machines to get cash can now keep playing a slot they believe is about to pay out. They no longer have to leave, only to come back and see another player winning, Stansfield said.
Customers are also playing on devices longer, he said.
“We’re seeing the convenience that allows for patrons to transact more frequently, but with lower dollar amounts,” Stansfield said. “Instead of pulling $500 out of an ATM, they’ll do $250, $250, and $100 (with mobile wallets). The convenience allows them to interact with the game more frequently without disrupting play.”
Chris Justice, president of Global Payments Gaming Solutions, also a cashless company, told the conference that cashless will get a return on investment that depends on what and how operators roll out.
“For at least some of the better solutions in the marketplace, the payback period is relatively fast,” Justice said. “I would say six to nine months is a reasonable payback period for the full investment – where you can start to enjoy an uptick in profitability. That comes from the increase in gross gaming revenue that results from your guests spending more money with you than the other places they go to. Convenience drives the bus.”
Justice said that when people think about their personal shopping experiences, they’re more likely than not to spend more money at places that make spending convenient, rather than those that make it more difficult.
“Pay-at-the-pump is a perfect example,” Justice said. “More than 90% of consumers who pull up to the gas station and find that the pump doesn’t accept their card find it more convenient to get back in their car and drive to the next gas station than walk inside and have a conversation. Those same experiences are happening day to day in your casino. If you can create a compelling consumer experience that delivers with speed and efficiency, you’ll gain more of that gaming wallet at your place than your competitors will and create a solid competitive advantage.”
Noah Acres, chief marketing officer at Acres Technology, said that outside of gaming, 80% of transitions are cashless. Most people don’t carry any cash, he added.
“Think about the players you don’t have,” Acres said, “and what’s going to get them to come to your casino. Cashless is a big reason.”
Bethany Seidel, director of client marketing strategy at Sightline, a cashless-gaming provider, cited a survey from the American Gaming Association that found 58% of gamblers want cashless in their gaming experience.
“If you take a look at people who come more than seven times a year, that number jumps to 72%,” Seidel said.
Stansfield acknowledges that certain patron segments are a little hesitant to completely transition to digital. By offering end points that are physical, such as starting with funds in the digital wallet, the ability to purchase a ticket at a kiosk, the ability to withdraw funds at an ATM or kiosk, and the ability to put those tickets in and move funds back to a digital format, it allows patrons to choose their endpoints of the interaction, he said.
“We really believe that having the blend of a truly omnichannel experience will help convert some of those patrons you might think will never move to digital,” Stansfield said. “You’re giving them a hybrid experience to move funds at their discretion.”