As more and more states legalize sports betting, payments companies are getting more and more opportunities.
For California-based payments platform PayNearMe, the positives are flowing. Just two weeks ago, the company was granted approval by the Arizona Department of Gaming to provide its solution to licensed operators in the Grand Canyon State. Then, on October 5, PayNearMe launched in Connecticut, making it active in 15 regulated markets in the US.
At this week’s Global Gaming Expo, the company made two major announcements. First, it introduced MoneyLine, a new platform designed to manage the complexities of online gaming money movement. PlayLive!, the online casino affiliated with Live! casinos and hotels in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, was introduced as among the first to use MoneyLine to simplify deposit and payout experiences for its online players in Pennsylvania.
The company also announced a strategic partnership with IGT that will give IGT’s PlaySports customers the option to offer PayNearMe’s deposit and payout solution to their players.
IGT said PlaySports customers will have the option to leverage PayNearMe’s MoneyLine platform to facilitate cards, ACH, cash and mobile-first deposit methods including Apple Pay and Google Pay, plus payout solutions such as push-to-debit and cash-out at retail.
Michael Kaplan, chief revenue officer and general manager of PayNearMe, sat down with Gaming America during G2E to talk about the continued momentum of the sports betting industry in the United States, and offered some predictions as to what the future holds.
Kaplan started by noting Arizona is off to a pretty good start, with a growth curve similar to what was seen in Michigan at start of the year.
“We work with just about every operator other than DraftKings, so we get a sense of how good a state is going to be based on how our operators are doing,” he said. “When they all come independently to us to ask if we are licensed in the next state coming online, we know that state is going to go over well. With Arizona we could tell would be a good market based on the number of operators that wanted to work with us.”
The company currently is working with five operators in Arizona: William Hill, Twin Spires, Barstool Sports, Unibet and FanDuel. It expects to launch with additional operators in the coming months.
Following the launch in Connecticut on October 5, the next targets for PayNearMe are Louisiana, Mississippi and Wyoming. Louisiana currently has land-based sports betting, Kaplan said, but added the company’s operation is all about mobile sports betting and online gaming.
“Mobile sports betting ultimately will win,” he predicted, “because you can’t get the same content in the sportsbook. If done properly, they will feed off each other. In Michigan, some of the smaller brick-and-mortar operations are using their land-based operations to attract new players to online betting.”
In the next 5 years, Kaplan believes almost every state will have some form of legal sports betting. “There will be some adjustments, but at the rate things are going it seems likely,” he said. “We just heard people in Arkansas are asking their regulators why the state isn’t on board with sports betting.”
Payments space is always challenging
Since 2013, when online gaming launched in New Jersey, the payments side has always been complicated, always been a challenge, Kaplan explained. The number one complaint by players if having their transactions rejected, meaning they cannot get their account funded.
“Getting money in the system has been difficult because the big issuers decline the transaction. The bank that issued that card does not support gambling,” he recalled. “That has gotten better the last year and a half because the operators have worked to find lots of different options. PayNearMe, and other companies, have benefitted from that.”
Sportsbook operators work with many different suppliers, but that can lead to a “disjointed experience,” Kaplan said. When the player clicks on the cashier button, and is taken to a new screen to make a deposit, it frequently does not look the same as the rest of the site because it is operated by a third party.
“From their e-commerce experience, customers expect everything to work smoothly,” he said. “That is where we come in – we make everything easy for the player and the operator. Everything looks native. The player feels comfortable because he doesn’t get sent to a third-party site. For the operator, it is easier to work with one supplier and it lowers costs.
According to Kaplan, sportsbook operators benefit from having one platform handling both deposits and withdrawals in the case of a hard decline, because the player then does not have to be sent back to the start of the journey. Instead, PayNearMe can offer a “rescue flow,” meaning the chance to use a different payment option using the same data. If no electronic payment works, the player can have the option of visiting a retail operation to make a cash deposit.
Payouts have two elements: one, how to move money, and two, getting approval from the operator, which must comply with anti-money laundering regulations. To achieve the first part, Kaplan said MoneyLine allows the operators the company works with to move money instantly. For approvals, PayNearMe can make decisions based on the data it has. For example, a known player who has been on the site for a while can get an automatic withdrawal rather than having to wait for manual approval.
“Faster payouts is a big deal when it comes to customer satisfaction,” Kaplan declared. “It is one thing to have a good experience making a deposit, but if someone has a good experience making a withdrawal, it increases the chances they will come back.”