The COVID-19 pandemic has had a noted effect on how several industries can operate and interact with their customers during this time including retail stores, movie theaters and casinos. The pandemic has shut down brick-and-mortar casinos in markets like the United States to help minimize risk, for example, leading consumers to turn to online casinos and sportsbooks. This is resulting in increased revenue for these online gambling platforms in states like New Jersey — trends in growth that may well continue after the crisis.
There is one sticking point online casinos need to fix, however, and that is the speed at which consumers receive their winnings. Online betters are unlikely to be satisfied waiting the five days it takes for an ACH settlement or even through paper check sent through the mail, a problem United States government entities are also dealing with as they attempt to send out anticipated stimulus checks to citizens. Many companies are seeking to find ways to make disbursements easier for affected entities, including payment provider PayPal and instant disbursements firm Ingo Money. These companies have partnered to enable faster access to U.S. stimulus payments for citizens, many of whom are living paycheck-to-paycheck.
The U.S. government, as well as the gambling industry, is also dealing with infrastructure and regulatory hurdles that stall its ability to offer instant disbursements at scale, though. In the latest Disbursements Tracker®, PYMNTS looks at how the online gambling industry, as well as other digital industries are responding to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and what this means for the future of disbursements. The Tracker also examines how government agencies are responding to disbursement challenges and needs.
TurboTax is among the platforms seeking to make it easier for U.S. consumers without access to digital banking tools to receive their stimulus checks and other payments more easily. The tax services firm has developed a new tool on its website for the unbanked or underbanked, where users can register for one-time payments of their anticipated stimulus checks from the federal government. This will help on two levels, both enabling easier access to money for these citizens as well as allowing the IRS — the agency responsible for these payments — to find their records with more ease. Many check-reliant, unbanked customers fall into income levels where they do not have to file tax returns with the IRS, meaning that when it comes time to send them funds, the IRS needs to spend valuable time finding accurate records.
The IRS itself has also crafted a tool of its own for underbanked consumers called Get My Payment, which enables stimulus check tracking. This also comes after recent complaints sent to the IRS from consumers who noted that they had filed their previous taxes with services such as TurboTax or H&R Block and had not yet received their refunds. These customers represented another wrinkle for the IRS, since the agency did not have access to the direct deposit information of those who used third-party tax services in the same way they did not have tax information for the underbanked.
The COVID-19 pandemic, therefore, seems to have highlighted some of the inefficiencies with disbursements in the present, but that bodes well for disbursements in the future, according to Drew Edwards, CEO of Ingo Money, in a recent interview with PYMNTS. The pandemic will push the use of digital disbursement methods forward, as customers are unlikely to become less frustrated with checks and slower payment methods in the aftermath of the virus. These customers will also be more likely post-pandemic to head for digital methods of paying their bills or making purchases, after months where they lacked access to brick-and-mortar alternatives.
For more on these and other stories, visit the Tracker’s News & Trends.
Unibet On The Challenges Of Offering Instant Disbursements
The year 2020 was already set up to be an interesting year for digital gambling, with states opening increased access to online casinos and sportsbooks. The COVID-19 pandemic has put a halt on some of that growth — no sports means no sports betting, for example — but it has not prevented its rise completely. Online betters still want the same seamless access to their winnings that they are used to receiving at brick-and-mortar casinos, but this can be difficult for digital casinos to match. Online sites need to verify customers’ identities before they can disburse these funds, adding more time and often more frustration into the process for customers, and they also need to keep compliant with differing regulations across states concerning payments. All these challenges mean the growth of instant disbursements is slow-going for digital betting, says Mickael Marceau, head of payments for Kindred Group, the operator of online casino and sportsbook platform Unibet. To learn more about how Unibet and others in the online gambling space are approaching instant disbursement challenges, visit the Tracker’s Feature Story.
The Impact Of COVID-19 On The Online Gambling Industry
Bored consumers stuck inside of their homes during the coronavirus pandemic are searching for ways to keep themselves entertained, and shopping online can only fill so much time. Online gambling is emerging as an intriguing option for many, and more practiced betters are also turning to digital casinos since brick-and-mortar establishments remain shut. This could have implications for the future of the gambling industry, since it may lead many more individuals to consider using digital platforms. These platforms must therefore find ways to keep these customers satisfied, which means fast access to winnings, but that is still difficult for many in the industry to achieve. To learn more about how the pandemic has affected the online gambling industry as well its disbursement methods, visit the Tracker’s Deep Dive.
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