Hello, data science


If you think of your casino’s marketing offering to players, it is likely to be based on historical data and data from your own gaming floor – but Vantiv can now blow that wide open and give operators a much fuller, more rounded view of their players by bringing customer spend outside the gaming floor to the table. Operators can now create profiles that are truly tailored to their customers, and fully embrace the concept of lifetime player value.

Joe Pappano, Senior Vice President, Managing Director, Vantiv Entertainment Solutions spoke to Casino International about their product.


Casino International: What is Vantiv?

Joe Pappano: We are a merchant acquirer, and we simplify payment innovation by accepting debit, credit, any type of electronic transaction, and we facilitate those transactions for merchant acceptance, whether that’s online, via a mobile device or any kind of brick-and-mortar setup. We process transactions, today we are moving well over 22 billion electronic transactions on an annual basis. We turn plastic into cash for merchants, we make it seamless and we provide the appropriate value-added services in terms of data science, security solutions, providing alternative payments, dispute management, a lot of the back-end reporting; we simplify a very complex industry regarding payment acceptance. Think of Vantiv as controlling the last mile onto the card networks and onto the issuing banks. We provide secure, simple, safe transactions.


CI: What do you mean by data science?

vantivJP: Think of the analytics. Everyone is trying to gain a better understanding of who their customer is, their buying behaviours, how can they better incentivise, understanding the lifetime player value, their affluency status, trying to understand them to give them a better customer experience. What customers may be at risk, appropriate life cycle, share of the wallet; it’s really about understanding in our industry by leveraging payment data in customer spend and their behaviours to ultimately take all that and provide a much more seamless and better customer experience, and to understand their preferences, or to better incentivise or reward to conduct additional activity.


CI: I’m not sure most gaming organisations are structured to disseminate such data into something meaningful…
JP: You bring up a great point. When you take a look at Vantiv, we have been moving payments for over 40 years, with many industry leaders; we are very big in the supermarket industry, we are big in drug stores, retailing, e-commerce-type companies. About six years ago we took a platform and the technology of our industry-leading experience, and we wanted to migrate into the gaming industry because we could see the convergence of payments and gaming, and the gaming industry was moving towards being ‘electronified’; what excited us, when you look at the data analytics or science, is that gaming has always been measured based on what you either do online at a specific site, or what I did within the four walls of that casino. The only way they had any intellectual data on you and your behaviours was based on measurable or trackable data. If I used a player card, that allowed them to track me. What they could understand from that was what type of game I was playing, the duration of the game, some of the specifics within their four walls, my preferences. What we are able to do by the convergence of the gaming industry and the payment industry, two highly-complex and highly-regulated industries, is to take all the enhanced payment data to augment that customer’s profile. Today, a gaming operator may have a very limited view of what that customer does within their location. Now, by augmenting and providing all of this enriched and enhanced data from the payment side, I now get a much better view of my customer before they come to my casino, and when they leave. It’s not just a gaming perspective, it’s from a payments perspective; why this is critical – and I will make a general statement – is that on average, 55-60+% of the revenues driven and earned from an operator come from non-gaming activity. In the past, all I was measuring was gaming spend, I was very limited. That’s why we are very excited about leveraging many of our core assets and what we have been able to do in the merchant, non-gaming industry, and being able to bring that over with all of our experience to provide smarter, faster, easier payments.


CI: Data on the customer’s behaviour property-wide, details from almost every part of that customer’s visit, could substantially change the resort’s attitude to comping and marketing to the player – not least for the convention crowds who might spend a lot more on the F&B side. It’s potentially quite a game changer…

JP: It is, think about where all the marketing dollars have been spent. It’s very fragmented – they believe they know you based on historic and trackable data, yet they have no visibility of your everyday spend.

The other phenomenon taking place in the evolution of gaming is to do with omni-commerce; the extension of gaming is really playing out to create that one customer experience. Every entity now is commanding an online presence; we know the instant gratification of the next generation and how they want to conduct transactions, done via some kind of mobile device; ultimately, how do I bring them back into my entertainment destination of which gaming is just one piece?

Not only are we having this ‘electronification’ of the gaming industry, we are also having a convergence of creating a single customer experience so online, mobile and bricks-and-mortar, when you bring those three together, I now have a very different lens and data pool to start better understanding my customer, and to better incentivize and drive additional loyalty that historically did not exist. It’s not just the data science, it’s the convergence that excites us. We are taking an industry that has been very disciplined, even slow moving from a regulatory standpoint, that is now having to keep up with the change and innovation required to keep that next generation of player which wants to do things differently – skill-based games, that kind of thing.


CI: If I’m an operator, how does adopting your system work and how does it integrate with what I am already using?

JP: In essence, we are a one-stop-shop for a land-based operator, where in the past they have had to deal with multiple vendors to do their job. We sit down with an operator and we look at points of interaction; we look at point-of-sale [POS], we look at non-gaming activity, where are they moving payments today? One of our goals when we moved into this space, our one guiding principle that we have built upon, is that we will always protect the integrity of the transaction, the brands, the networks, and most importantly, the consumer. By going in with that guiding ethos, it allows us to sit down and say, where can we drive operational efficiency? Where can we have a positive impact to the bottom line, and let’s look at all these fragmented partners you are currently using, and let’s give you visibility with Vantiv.

All operators will want to start somewhere different on that life cycle. Somebody will want to focus on security, somebody else may want to focus on POS; we can take them on a journey which culminates in that one-stop-shop. Do they understand lifetime player value? Our offering would complement and enhance the data they already have. Because the payment data has never before intersected with the gaming data, it becomes a very powerful tool for marketing, and to ultimately create that greater loyalty.