29 Oct 2020

Digital Ampersand Speakeasy: Automation, cashless, virtual … – product innovation in the land-based space in response to Covid-19

Ewa Bakun

14 members joined for the third digital Ampersand speakeasy on Wednesday, 30 September to discuss Automation, cashless, virtual … – product innovation in the land-based space in response to Covid-19.


Cashless Automations


Cashless and bitcoin

Much of the discussion focused on cashless payments with insights from both Europe, where this type of payments are widespread, and the USA, where cashless has been discussed for a number of years, but is only now being implemented, influenced by the pandemic.


The challenge with cashless is that it is not a linear process. Each part of the system is its own mini ecosystem with various companies involved, which raises questions on who has the information and data control amongst those in the ecosystems – how do they track and follow the data and make decisions based on that data reveals. This neeeds to be set up upfront, but first a clear understanding of those ecosystem relationships needs to be achieved. Not all groups within those ecosystems are regulated, which adds to the challenge. Need to set the process around control, sharing, management of data. It’s not one size fits all and needs to be understood across various geographies and with an understanding of local custom.

Another factor stopping the adoption of cashless in the US are concerns around Responsible Gambling, now overcome, but with onerous regulation.

First signs of changing rules around cashless are already seen in Nevada, where banks and credit cards are now including in cash advances casino tokens and chips. With states now regulating new forms of gambling, like sports wagering, there is a clear change in attitudes as the ability to access money without to use cash becomes available now in Nevada, with other states to follow.

Land-based casinos are generally eager to adopt cashless payments, in particular nowadays in response to Covid-19.

 Consumer attitudes towards cashless payments also vary, e.g. in Japan a local politician stated a press conference in a coffee shop to demonstrate their comfortability to pay for coffee with phone. That’s beneficial to minimise the AML risks.

European countries are more advanced in their adoption of cashless in gambling. Indeed, payment and taxation systems have become huge depositories holding consumer data. This leads to data challenges, in particular with the European regulations around data.

Bitcoin is an emerging payment system too that requires lots of understanding, in particular from governments, authorities and regulators, while at the same it poses big challenges in relation to anti-money laundering.


Hybrid gaming experiences

The group also briefly discussed innovations that members have observed or encountered in the land-based environment, such as Facebook live bingo in Canada or zoom bingo.

To respond to the capacity limitations, a possible hybrid model between landbased and online could emerge that combines both physical and online rngs. While this wasn’t possible a few years ago due to latency issues, video delivery has now gotten much better and would allow for the synchronising of players, both online/on intranet and land-based, with the dealer, using virtual cards – all in sync.  A reliable internet infrastructure technology to support that is a must to avoid any delay that would interfere with the integrity of the game.

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