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SCCG Research: Beyond the bet – The evolution of casino cashless payments

In another exclusive excerpt previewing an upcoming release from SCCG Research's, the team this time looks into a simple-yet-vital aspect of the gambling journey.


In casino gaming, the dominance of networked slot machines and the romance of table game operations are the stars. Yet, behind these distractions lies a far less glamorous but essential player: payment processing. Far from simple, this process is enabled by complex, technology-driven solutions addressing the need to manage bank relationships, comply with regulations, combat fraud and collect a fair fee. These complexities create hurdles for new entrants into this industry, but leaders are emerging from both operators and solution providers.

Banking on complexity

Payment processing is a nuanced affair, particularly in casinos. Banks, acting as intermediaries, are understandably cautious, given the need to protect their customers from money laundering and financial crimes. This careful approach translates into higher processing fees for casinos, making it costly. The stringent regulations further add layers of complexity. For instance, the Bank Secrecy Act in the US requires casinos to report transactions over a certain threshold. These regulations necessitate a robust infrastructure to monitor and report transactions, adding to the need for solid, reliable solutions.

The cashless revolution and pioneers of change

The landscape of consumer spending has undergone a seismic shift from cash to cashless transactions. This change was initially gradual but has gained significant momentum in recent years, partly thanks to technological advancements and changing consumer preferences. Companies like PayPal and Square revolutionised digital payments, making them accessible and convenient. Contactless payments, once a novelty, are now ubiquitous, thanks to the efforts of these firms. Regulatory changes further accelerated this shift. For example, the European Union's Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2) facilitated safer and more innovative electronic payments, fostering a more competitive and integrated European payments market.

Casino Industry: Evolving through partnerships

Traditionally reliant on cash, the casino gaming industry has resisted these shifts. The transition to cashless payments in casinos began in earnest with the advent of ticket-in, ticket-out (TITO) technology in slot machines. This innovation, pioneered by companies like International Game Technology (IGT), marked the beginning of the end for coin-operated slots.

The online casino sector, in contrast, has always been at the forefront of adopting new payment technologies. Companies like Neteller and Skrill became synonymous with online gambling, offering secure and convenient ways to deposit and withdraw funds

More recently, the rise of cryptocurrency casinos has further diversified the payment landscape.

Brick-and-mortar casinos: Catching up, cautiously

In brick-and-mortar casinos, the adoption of cashless payment methods has been slower but is gaining momentum through closely considered integration with their legacy systems. For example, MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, and Resorts World Las Vegas worked on projects in partnership with Sightline Payments to enhance their cashless wagering ecosystems, allowing players to manage their liquidity within each company more efficiently.

Boyd Gaming, working with its casino management system provider, Aristocrat Technologies deployed BoydPay. With wallet funding powered by Sightline, this solution enabled their players to go cashless at slot games, restaurants and retail operations. Penn National deployed its mychoice wallet using Everi's cashless wallet solution. WynnLas Vegas also deployed a touchless payment solution provided by Freedompay at over 100 locations across Wynn Las Vegas and Encore Boston Harbor. This diversity of solutions across operators of all sizes is a strong indicator of health for this segment of solutions for improved customer experiences.

Legacy casino credit, traditionally a paper-heavy, process-intensive operation, has seen evolution through casino systems providers Light and Wonder and Aristocrat, partnering with cashless marker system developer Markertrax, allowing table game players to access funds at the pit cashlessly. Southern California's Morongo Casino and Spa went all in, implementing Markertrax for cashless table game markers and electronic markers for slot players through the Konami Gaming Synkros system. These systems improve the customer experience and align with the broader digitalisation trend.

A future ripe for innovation

As we enable better customer experiences through liquidity and payment solutions, it's clear that the casino gaming industry stands at the cusp of a payment transformation. This transition to a more digital, cashless environment is not just a technological shift but a cultural one.

The forthcoming research brief by SCCG Management will delve deeper into these trends, providing insights and analysis crucial for casino executives and decision-makers. In a world where consumer preferences and technological capabilities are constantly evolving, staying ahead of these trends is not just beneficial; it's imperative for the sustained success and relevance of the casino gaming industry.

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