When money is the product, as it is in online sports betting, a safe and increasingly instant pay in and pay out customer experience is key.
With 26 states plus Washington, D.C., having legalized online sports betting, and 23 of those states now live, dozens of sportsbooks have sprouted up to tap that opportunity. Now it’s a question of how easily and securely money can move in and out of player accounts, creating an experience consistent with the ease, convenience and immediacy of payout winnings at physical casinos.
“I think the biggest point of friction we hear is while [sportsbooks] have instant payout options, they don’t always release the funds instantly because there’s a risk management process in the middle, so it’s instant from the time the operator releases funds,” Drew Edwards, CEO of Ingo Money, told PYMNTS’ Karen Webster.
Contrast this with the experience of online payments in verticals from insurance to tipping, which are now often paid on instant terms. In this environment, Caesars Sportsbook partnered with Ingo Money in 2022 to deliver near-real-time payments to players in Caesars’ ecosystem.
“I believe it’s table stakes for people that are used to a gaming experience,” Edwards said. “We’re also hearing from our partners in the space about the desire to either get my winnings or the money I didn’t lose, whichever the case is, back, sometimes so that I can take advantage of another operator’s offer that’s on the table. I think the big operators are being smart by letting money flow out faster and trusting that the customer will bring funds back in the future.”
Like the blackjack player who wants to take their chips to another game of chance across the floor, Edwards said, “Nobody wants their money stuck at a table, or stuck in an app.”
The holdup in most cases is the necessary risk review and compliance process that has to happen after a consumer asks for their money and before it’s pushed out instantly and irrevocably through instant payments.
Edwards acknowledged that their partners like Caesars are doing it “best in class” and shortening the review process to minutes instead of hours, but there’s still a gap and consumer messaging is important.
“I don’t think any of these top tier operators are intentionally trying to hold [money] in their app longer than the consumer desires,” he said. “It’s all a review process that’s happening to make sure it’s the proper payout because compliance matters and, with instant, you can’t get it back in most cases.”
As this all settles and operators become more adept at managing the risks of instant gambling payouts, the action will move to create entire ecosystems based on fast money mobility.
As Edwards sees it unfolding, “you’re going to see a lot more incentives to move your money around in an ecosystem. I’m at the table, I win money, it goes in my app, I can then bet on the game while I’m at dinner, then I can come back and move it back to the table. I see that as a trend.”
Omnichannel operators like Caesars may have the upper hand, at least initially. Over time, that will create networks that Edwards likened to airline codeshare and points agreements.
“Think Delta Sky Miles, where there’s crossover and the ability to benefit from, leverage and maximize the players’ dollars in and out of the gaming experience,” he said.
See the Tracker: Casinos, Gambling, And Gaming Platforms Bet On Instant Payments
As this sector seeks network effects through faster payouts and partnerships, ignition moments are crucial to bringing in more players. Webster mentioned that the Super Bowl is doing this.
Edwards agreed, saying: “The Super Bowl is by name one of the mega events as it relates to advertisers, and as it relates to this type of activity and behavior. None of that happens without money in and money out or money in-between. Instant payments are just natural in that process.”
With operators including Caesars offering up to 2,000 angles on which to place bets — winners, losers, point spreads, the performance of certain players, the list is long — Edwards said this is common, and it usually ends with players wanting their money now.
As more states legalize online wagering and more players come into these games, Edwards thinks it will become a major use case for digital wallets for individual ecosystems or even across ecosystems, from Caesars to DraftKings to any number of other combinations.
As this happens, more operators want payments orchestration on the back end to bring down costs and assure uptime and payments efficiencies. And money mobility is at the core.
“We still think … that push-to-card and instant payouts are the number one most popular [method],” he said. “It’s the newest, but it’s the number one most popular method, and in my opinion, one of the safest from a regulatory standpoint.”