Cincinnati-based Vantiv Entertainment Solutions is the headline sponsor of the 2017 edition of GiGse, which is being held for the first time at San Diego’s Marriott Marquis Marina (26 – 28 April). Joe Pappano, SVP & Managing Director, looks ahead to the event and provides his views on the evolution of the gambling landscape in the United States as well as the challenges facing payments solution providers.
One of the big debates taking place within the broadly based gambling industry is how it could and possibly should reposition as part of the entertainment sector. What are your views on this?
It’s a great question. Though, it’s interesting that you’ve referred to the industry as the gambling industry. Not long ago the gambling industry made a point to refer to itself as gaming to reposition itself more broadly. The same thing is happening once again, now transitioning from gaming to entertainment. A consumer has never had so many entertainment options. The competition for their attention is real and the cost of acquisition and retention is high. In our view that’s the reason behind this repositioning or what we like to view as evolution. As consumers adopt new forms of games on ever-expanding products, so should we the gambling… gaming… entertainment industry.
Your website makes reference to knowledge and how ‘knowledge is your power’ – do you see any parallels with GiGse as an event which is centered on information and knowledge exchange?
There certainly are parallels. Vantiv places a premium on educating the gaming & entertainment markets about payments and education has been among our top priorities since our inception. GiGse, as an organization, absolutely mirrors this same approach. From the beginning, GiGse has remained focused on education as the hallmark of the event. The conference agenda is topical and forward leaning in its content.
What strategic objective does VANTIV hope to meet as a result of the GiGse sponsorship?
We are always evaluating opportunities. We view GiGse as an opportunity for our team to educate as well as to learn from other attendees. GiGse provides us with a unique opportunity to spend time with companies across the gaming spectrum and better understand their needs. What once was primarily an iGaming show has evolved to include digital gaming, social gaming, bricks-and-mortar casinos – all of whom will be represented at the event.
Vantiv is involved in a wide range of verticals but how important is gaming/entertainment to the overall business?
We’re very aware of the continuing shift in buying behavior among gaming and entertainment consumers. Consumer preferences have evolved so the available forms of entertainment have as well. We knew we had a unique opportunity to bring value to digital gaming, DLC and even venues based on our experience with iGaming, casinos and ADW. There is a clear bond between a consumer and the brand, whether the interaction occurs in a physical location or on a digital device. It’s important that companies provide every opportunity for consumers to engage with their brand wherever and whenever possible. This is possible through technology enabled by payments, entertainment is offered to consumers in seemingly whatever form they desire.
GiGse is about managing the present and preparing for the future, how do you see the US gambling landscape evolving?
Companies are expanding to offer their products online in addition to their physical location. This has clearly transpired in the casino industry where iGaming and social gaming have become a prominent source of revenue and player acquisition. Vantiv is involved in a similar shift with the casino and lottery markets, which have traditionally depended heavily on cash as the vehicle for economic growth. In several states today, lottery is offered online where cards can be used to purchase tickets. Likewise, cards are now an option at kiosks and at the gas pump in certain states. Consumers can even pay with a card at the convenience store register, eliminating the previously bifurcated experience of paying for goods at one register with card and lottery tickets with cash.
Another area of evolution is seen in the transition to a cashless gaming experience on the casino floor. Cash is expensive to manage, handle, secure and move about the floor. Card acceptance is rapidly growing in several states where casinos now offer cashless gaming at their slot machines and table games. We understand that electronic payments are a somewhat revolutionary change for an industry ingrained in a legacy of cash and coins. As operators become comfortable, we’ll be there to offer the payments solutions.
What are the biggest challenges for a payments solution provider in the gaming space?
Navigating the legislative and regulatory environment is a challenge for most gaming businesses. Additionally, the United States gaming industry is notorious for its slow adoption of new technology. The blame doesn’t fall squarely on operators’ shoulders, more so the ability to offer new forms of games, whether skill-based or simply unregulated is very difficult due to current gaming laws. Though, we’re seeing positive movement at the state level in the form of online lottery and momentum has resurfaced in the iGaming market as well. Vantiv is here for the long haul. We will continue to work with regulators, technology providers and operators to ensure payments evolve with the industry to ensure a seamless payments experience for consumers.
To register for GiGse, visit www.gigse.com