U.S. Bank Gaming Services finds that building a better ATM network has casinos beating a path to its door



BY PAUL NIELSEN

The technological capability of a casino’s ATM transaction processor can have a significant bearing on a property’s bottom line.

The difference between the cash driven to the casino floor by a good ATM program (including ATM-enabled kiosks) and a program having exceptional transaction processing is often at least 5 percent. About two-thirds of the demand for cash in a casino is fulfilled by ATM transactions, so putting 5 percent more ATM cash in the guests’ hands translates to sizable gains in gaming revenue.

Consider an example. About $500 million in ATM cash is dispensed annually by an ATM program that serves a gaming operation consisting of 10,000 gaming machines. For simplicity, assume the casino’s gaming income derived from play is 10 percent of the ATM cash, or $50 million. If the ATM transaction processing technology can increase ATM cash dispensed by at least 5 percent, it will deliver more than $2.5 million annually in additional gaming revenue. For several years U.S. Bank has tracked the amount of ATM cash it has delivered to casino guests and compared it to reported amounts using the casinos’ prior ATM processors. Improvements of more than 5 percent in ATM cash delivered to guests were common after conversion to the U.S. Bank processing platform.

Casinos depend on the ATM transaction processor for specialized technology and data handling to drive authorizations of the guests’ requested cash withdrawals. A higher authorization rate means fewer transactions are declined and more cash is dispensed, stimulating additional play and significant gains in gaming revenue. For the past six consecutive years, VISA chose U.S. Bank for the VISA Service Quality Performance Award, for achieving the highest authorization approval rating among its peer group of ATM processors.

Here are three ways that U.S. Bank’s transaction processing system improves authorization rate, processor uptime and cash delivered to the casino floor:

• Customized Inbound Data Links - Improving authorization rate involves eliminating unnecessary transaction declines. Inbound ATM messages that are already approved by the ATM networks (Plus, Cirrus, Visa, MasterCard) frequently arrive at the data processing center at the same time, usually resulting in data collisions and a high rate of unwanted declines. To eliminate data collisions, U.S. Bank installed numerous inbound data links from each network and customized them to anticipate data collisions. On other processing systems these collisions may result in lost transactions, which are declined. At U.S. Bank, transactions that might cause a collision are redirected down a different, unobstructed path. With a greater percentage of network-approved transactions arriving safely and reducing false declines, more cash goes to the gaming floor.

• Outbound Alternate Routing - U.S. Bank achieves further reductions in unnecessary declines by ensuring that outbound requests for authorization reach the ATM networks safely for approval. U.S. Bank built multiple routing alternatives from its processing system to each of the ATM networks. If a link to one of the ATM networks fails, other links to that same network can immediately pick up the traffic, dynamically. Outbound alternate routing ensures that more requests for authorization go through, thereby satisfying guests and driving more cash to the floor.

• Active-Active Redundancy - U.S. Bank has nearly 33,000 ATMs on its processing platforms, serving thousands of casinos and other business clients. To foster client confidence in U.S. Bank’s processing platforms, U.S. Bank designed its disaster recovery systems to be state-of-the-art. U.S. Bank built an “active-active” system of redundancy that involves bidirectional updates between duplicate, live production processing centers. Both processing centers are in production simultaneously, and are linked together over a live interface. Unlike most other processing systems, the information for driving all of U.S. Bank’s ATMs resides on both platforms all the time. U.S. Bank’s active-active, live redundancy, with more uptime ensures that gaming continues and gives casinos and guests confidence in obtaining cash.

By choosing an ATM processor with the technological excellence to satisfy the considerable demand for ATM cash in a casino, operators will improve their guests’ experience and boost gaming revenue.

Paul Nielsen is the managing director for U.S. Bank Gaming Services. For more information, contact the company at 800-784-5414 or visit www.usbank.com.