Fortunately there are many new and advanced technologies and products available that can help casinos verify, process, account and protect their cash stream and ultimately their operation’s profitability.
One way to protect one’s cash stream is to keep those who would steal or abuse it in check.
“Casinos are considered by the federal government to be financial institutions subject to regulations aimed at preventing fraud and money laundering,” said Brian Ferrilla, managing director at Resorts Advantage. “But unlike banks, who make customers sign up to use their services, casinos are a walk-in business. The identification of a customer often isn’t known until he spends a certain amount.”
To meet these requirements, Resorts Advantage now offers real-time ID scanning/authentication/verification capabilities for its Title 31 Accelerator Casino Floor Monitor. Unique among such systems, this product supports up to 2,000 identification document types, and provides real-time verification so resorts can quickly determine if a customer is on the undesirable patron or Patriot Act watch lists. This software technology allow the property to know “who it is doing business with at the point of transaction on the casino floor,” Ferrilla said.
Title 31 Accelerator can also scan ID contents and use the data to update player master files and gather additional image information to be used in future transactions with that patron, Ferrilla added.
AUTOMATED RESPONSEBefore patrons can hit the gaming floor, they need cash. But rather than make all customers queue up at cashiers cages, casinos can speed the acquisition of gaming cash with on-the-floor automated teller machines (ATMs).
U.S. Bank offers casinos ATM processing services that include more than the traditional ATM services of facilitating cash access through credit and debit card transactions and bill breaking. For example, U.S. Bank can handle personal check transactions at its machines.
According to Paul Nielsen, vice president and managing director of gaming services for U.S. Bank, its ATMs can do a check transaction and dispense cash immediately. The company’s ATMs also can be programmed to redeem ticket-in/ticket-out (TITO) vouchers.
U.S. Bank can customize the types of transactions that its ATMs perform, although Nielsen believes casino customers don’t necessarily desire this level of added service. Gaming patrons who use ATMs instead of the cash cage want to quickly insert their card and walk off with their money-not waste time performing extra functions at the machine.
Still, other ATM providers take a more liberal approach when it comes to ATM functionality on the gaming floor. The sleek-design CXC 4.0 kiosk from Global Cash Access performs nearly every cash handling and cash access service a casino customer might want. Combined with powerful marketing peripherals and high capacity components, the CXC 4.0 delivers maximum velocity and patron interaction.
Tasks performed by the CXC 4.0 include ATM, credit card and debit card transactions, bill breaking and TITO ticket redemption. It also provides points to cash or voucher, slot tickets or cash options. Features include six cash cassettes that hold up to 3,000 banknotes, a choice of bill acceptors and dispensers, two bill validators, a choice of TITO ticket printers, a 22-inch LCD touch screen to facilitate transactions and security cameras to prevent fraud. The kiosk can be programmed to carry a casino’s marketing messages. There are also LED display track lighting options.
For casinos interested in tracking their cashflow, Global Cash Access offer Xchange Explorer Plus, which compiles real-time reports of all types of cash and TITO ticket transactions, notes where they are occurring, and produces custom financial reports for one of multiple properties. Such reports can be e-mailed to multiple recipients.
SEEKING VALIDATIONCounterfeit currency remains a problem at casinos, so casinos need to take measures to safeguard against those who try to cheat the automated systems. The main defense is provided by bill validators, which are getting more sophisticated.
MEI recently introduced SC Advance, the next generation of its Cashflow SC. Improvements in SC Advance includes an upgraded bill recognition system that provides proactive security by utilizing transmissive sensors to see all the way through notes in multiple wavelengths. It also provides quicker bill-to-bill speed, which pleases players by speeding up transactions and expanding throughput. An expanded internal memory allows this system recognize more banknotes. Improved barcode recognition allows the device to process barcode coupons in all four directions. An upgraded USB port speeds up communications with the host machine. SC Advance is compatible and can work with Cashflow SC units still on the gaming floor.
Intelligent bill validation is promised by the iVizion validator marketed by JCM. Verification of each banknote placed in iVizion is secured by contact image sensor (CIS) technology, which scans 75 times more data points than conventional validators and captures the full image of the banknote or ticket for possible review later. The device optically centers banknotes regardless of width, thus eliminating the need for mechanical centering while speeding up the verification process. Built-in protections prevent such dodges as stringing a bill, manipulation or mechanical cheating.
“The ability of the iVizion to recognize a legitimate banknote is without peer,” said Tom Nieman, vice president of global marketing for JCM. “It can memorize notes from across the world, which is beneficial where casinos are near borders with other nations. It can validate the note even if dirty or crushed in someone’s pocket. And the banknote can be fed into the device four ways and still get validated.”
Additional security for cashflow is provided by JCM’s ICB 2.0 Intelligent Cash Box, which stores each transaction in memory, so casinos can verify that cash input and cash retrieval from the cashbox match. This dissuades those, including employees, who might be tempted to skim the proceeds.
Keeping cash flowing in a casino is enhanced by the Bill-to-Bill 60 banknote recycler from CashCode. Originally designed for the European market, this single denomination machine accepts and validates $5 to $50 banknotes (the operator determines which) and stores them in a standard cassette. From this cassette, the operator can then reissue them to payout as change or dispense as winnings.
Using FastTrack recycling technology, this device vertically aligns the stacker and recycling cassettes for high transaction speeds while optimizing failure protection and enabling fast and easy maintenance. Included on the recycling cassette are service buttons for the easy loading or unloading of bank notes and a LED display that clearly indicates the number of bank notes inside the recycling cassette to keep auditing under control. The Bill-to-Bill 60 also includes an array of validation sensors, smart-stick or downloadable program memory, four-way bank note insertion capability and anti-stringing tools to minimize fraud.
By recycling cash through this device, casinos need less cash on hand to serve customers and the same banknotes can go through multiple ownerships during the course of a day.
CashCode is not the only company offering cash recycling technology to casinos. The Revolution Cash Management Solution from Automated Gaming Technologies is the first complete (notes and coins) cash automation and recycling system built specifically for large volume users like casinos. The Revolution improves upon today’s manual cash processes, which include till management (beginning of shift and end of shift drawer preparation), point-of-transaction balancing to the back room, and deposit preparation.
Tellers can start their shift by creating their own till, or end their shift by checking in their own till, said John Prather, AGT executive vice president. This automation of a manual process creates operational efficiencies that result in less time lost by workers in the cashier cages, and in reduced cash variation and shortages due to clerk accountability. And it more effectively managing the daily deposit, saving time and reducing the change fund required (because so much cash is now being recycled).
System features include a 15-inch touchscreen user interface, intuitive user interface, full complement of reports, biometric palm scanner and a drop vault. Coins are dispensed directly into the cashier’s till at eight per second while banknotes are dispensed at seven per second. Coins are counted in the system at 3,000 per second.
TAXING SITUATIONFor players who finally hit the big one, their score is joyous good luck. But for casinos, it means filling out required forms for the Internal Revenue Service so that the winner can share his fortune with Uncle Sam. And the length of time needed to contact the customer, get his information, and return to the back room to complete the forms before handing them to the winner also means that the slot machine may be out of use during the interim and not taking in fresh bets.
Speeding this chore up is Resort Advantage’s Slots Jackpot Accelerator, which provides casinos with an easy-to-Caption: A schematic of the Slots Jackpot Accelerator system from Resorts Advantagee mobile tool that quickly addresses all regulatory requirements for completing a jackpot payout at the gaming machine.
Employing wireless tablet technology as an extension to the company’s Complete FinCEN/IRS Compliance Solution, Slots Jackpot Accelerator streamlines a patron’s jackpot experience by integrating all legacy casino systems into a simple touch screen interface. This “front-ends” all required jackpot payout processing steps including immediate patron information verification, jackpot confirmation, electronic IRS forms processing, and BSA compliance monitoring. This, Ferrilla said, enhances the patron’s jackpot experience, reduces back of house jackpot paperwork processing by 80 percent, and increases revenues by getting the winning machine back up in half the time.
Resort Advantage’s Real-Time SSN/OFAC/DML Verification also speeds completion of IRS Forms and immediately eFiles them, Ferrilla said. Linking the floor person with appropriate taxing bodies, this system confirms each patron’s ID at the point of transaction, and the contents of each IRS form created for the patron is confirmed real-time for acceptance by the IRS to produce error-free end-of-year tax forms submission. The system also links with the players club and slots management systems, thereby eliminating the need to re-key patron and transaction data into third party IRS forms processing software.
INTERNAL PROTECTIONWith so much cash flowing, it creates temptation for others, including to employees, who might want to help themselves.
To assure that all cash dropped is accounted for MEI Group offers Easitrax Soft Count, an integrated software/hardware solution that provides a more efficient way to manage cash drops and evaluate data from slot machines. Designed for easy retrofitting to MEI’s Cashflow SC bill validator, Easitrax employs radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to connect slot machine asset numbers and bill validator operational information to a specific cashbox. This database can then be networked to multiple locations for use in analyzing slot machine performance.
By knowing the acceptance rates at individual cashboxes and the number and denominations of banknotes in the cashbox, cash drop collection times can be more efficiently set. The software program also produces jam reports identifying the potential problems when they occur, and note why certain bills were rejected.
Additional security against internal crime can be obtained through use of an AGT iris-scan biometric system that limits who can access backroom areas where cash is counted and stored.