Attend any gaming conference in the U.S. and there is usually a conversation between casino executives about the need to create omnichannel experiences, a term that Christopher Justice, CEO of Pavilion Payments, admits has become one of those “attractive buzzwords.”
“What we mean by omnichannel is effectively meeting the customer where they are in enabling a complete experience where they are,” Justice said.
“So that’s meeting them at the game, meeting them on mobile, meeting them online, helping to provide a complete seamless, convenient experience that gives them access to what they want and deliver upon the expectation of what they are expecting.”
Justice admitted that was a broad statement but when thought about in the context of a casino, he wondered if there was any reason why a customer should not be able to sit down and fund their blackjack game with their phone while simultaneously placing a sports bet as the cards are being dealt.
A customer at the same time could also understand their loyalty points and what it is going to take to scale up to the next level and be able to book a reservation at a restaurant on-property, he added.
“Right there is a complete experience that can be delivered,” Justice said.
Outside the casino when consumers go to a shopping mall, they might simultaneously be looking at items on a store shelf while price checking against Amazon or looking at the store’s inventory system because they cannot find their size and order it online to be delivered to their home.
“These are omni-channel experiences that I think the casino [industry] is now waking up to the fact that we need to provide those types of experiences if we are to maintain relevance with the guest's wavering attention span.”
Still, some gaming industry executives have been cautious about introducing new payment technologies in land-based casino-resorts.
“All things aren’t all things to everybody,” Justice said. “I think what we are needing to add more broadly are the things that allow the digital consumer and the self-service consumer … to actually be able to [have] an experience that they going to embrace.”
Justice said he was confident that the “folks that have done that and done that well will reap the benefits” from customers spending more time and money on-property, making them harder to lure away.
During an interview with Vixio GamblingCompliance on Friday (October 20), Justice also spoke about where Pavilion Payments is six months after its spin off from Global Payments, several products recently highlighted at Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas, and issues affecting the gaming and payments industries.
Justice said, for example, the company introduced a new VIP Mobility product, in addition to the existing VIP Mobility technology, at G2E that allows consumers to fund their accounts for gaming or any other experiences throughout a resort without downloading an app.
VIP Mobility is live at tribal casinos in Oklahoma and California, with five other states testing the product.
Justice told Vixio that Nevada was important to Pavilion Payments because some of the company's biggest customers are based there, but the state has been slow in adopting new technology.
“We’ve been working hand-in-hand with Nevada in order to get the solutions approved. But it has been a little slow on the uptake,” he added.
In April, Parthenon Capital closed its $415m acquisition of the gaming division of Global Payments, transitioning the division into a standalone, independent Las Vegas-based company rebranded as Pavilion Payments.
“We’ve been executing on our separation project where we have migrated our technology out of Global Payments’ data centers, re-established our shared services infrastructure and all of the things that were going on with Global,” Justice said.
“We have a few more things left to do but overall, we’ve been able to execute the transition over the course of the last six months without a minute of downtime.”
Justice said Pavilion only focuses on the gaming industry, so as “a business the companies we work with, whether they are digital or brick-and-mortar, have to have a gaming license.”
As for the recent cyberattacks on MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment, Justice said “all breaches should be a concern for every industry not just the payments industry.”
“The payments industry continues to leverage advanced technologies and advanced capabilities to continue to make the commerce ecosystem more secure,” Justice said.
“That’s everything from leveraging tokenization technology, which is where you replace data that has … value to external sources with a token that if compromised means nothing to anybody outside the folks that have access to what the token actually means.”
Justice credited the payments industry with introducing more advanced capabilities, including chip-cards that have unique encryption to “make sure the consumer and the card are both valid,” while casino loyalty cards still use magnetic stripes.
“I think there are some things we do in our industry that can be useful as a whole to elevate the technology standards,” he said.
“But the long and the short of it is MGM has some really smart people. It’s unfortunate but there are thousands of hackers that are making billions of dollars a year in doing these kinds of things.”
Justice said every company is vulnerable so “we are going to have to continue to figure out a way to protect our infrastructure.”
He said even with the recent cyber incidents at MGM and T-Mobile, consumers are by no means turning away from cashless payments, with more than 200m mobile payment app users and 6trn transactions in 2022.
“These things do occur,” he added. “Just the fact that it has occurred in our industry I don’t think that is necessarily unique; tragic, yes.”
Justice said absolutely there are things that gaming “could and should” do better as an industry but “cashless done right does deliver a more safe and secure environment for the consumer.”