When I first began covering the gaming industry some 20 years ago, all anyone ever wanted to talk about on the product side of the business were the games—the latest slot themes and cabinets, new table twists, pari-mutuel and sports betting technology, and so on. It was all games, all the time, and everyone seemed satisfied with such a limited discussion.

My how the times have changed. Sure, games and other customer-facing casino products still receive a great deal of interest and attention from casino operators and the gaming industry in general.  But now gaming executives are equally interested in learning about the devices that the customer never sees—the myriad of products, systems and services that function behind the scenes to ensure the casino enterprise operates effectively and efficiently. And as the casino businesses becomes more complex, thanks to evolving channels of communication, increased local and regional competition and a host of other factors, operators are increasingly turning to back-office technologies to simplify a growing list of operational functions.

The vendor community is responding to this operator need by creating next-generation products designed to transform the back-office functionality for a number of core casinos businesses. For example, the past few years have seen a number of companies introduce systems and devices designed to streamline cash processing.

 

JET POWERED

One such company is Mount Prospect, Ill.-based Cummins Allison, a global leader in developing solutions that quickly and efficiently count, sort and authenticate currency, checks and coin.

“Today’s gaming properties are looking to invest in cost-efficient, back-room technology—such as currency handling solutions—to elevate time-consuming manual processes into more efficient tasks,” Bob Gibson, vice president, branch operations at Cummins Allison recently told Casino Journal. “Whether it is smaller batch sorting and counting in the cage area, in the banks, or in the soft count room, today’s currency handling solutions can streamline the process for faster and more accurate results. With an all-inclusive currency processing solution, casinos can not only prepare their deposits quickly and easily, but they can also archive and manage their check images, process currency and even process and image tickets—all on one machine. Combing these functions into a single device not only saves space and costs associated with maintaining multiple pieces of equipment, but makes employees more efficient, enabling count room and main bank workers to be more productive and cage cashiers to accommodate more players.”

Cummins Allison’s JetScan series of devices was created with these goals in mind. Recent introductions to this line include a new multi-pocket sorter, compact strapper, ticket reconciliation software and an expanded line of check scanning solutions, according to company literature.

The new compact strapper for the JetScan MPS 4200 is a powerful, affordable, automatic strapping solution that provides greater flexibility in the casino count room or vault, plus faster currency processing in a smaller footprint. Automatic strapping eliminates the labor associated with strapping, reducing the number of machine stops for full-pocket conditions, and greatly increases processing efficiency and system productivity. The MPS 4200 with the new compact strapper offers casinos robust currency and ticket processing capabilities, advanced counterfeit options and now, smaller-footprint, lower-cost strapping options.

Cummins Allison and NEWave have partnered to develop a ticket reconciliation software (TRS) program that via a casino’s host ticketing system collects ticket activity from cage, slot and kiosk transactions and imports and verifies the number and dollar amount reported by the host system for all tickets processed in a batch on a Cummins Allison JetScan iFX machine. The TRS program streamlines the balancing process and improves accuracy over manual entry, giving most tribal and traditional gaming jurisdictions the required verification of cage, kiosk and soft count ticket activity.

Also new is a full line of LS series check scanners, manufactured by CTS North America. This partnership expands the company’s portfolio, giving Cummins Allison one of the broadest lines of check scanning solutions in the industry. Five models of scanners are available ranging from a reduced-footprint version for retail applications to full-featured, compact scanners for back-office applications. The JetScan iFX cash and check scanner complements this series by offering the ability to process large quantities of both checks and cash on the same device, at speeds of 400 checks per minute and 1,600 bills per minute.

 

GLOBAL OUTLOOK

Cummins Allison is not the only company looking to make a splash in back-office cash handling and management. Las Vegas-based Glory Global Solutions, a global expert in cash management and business optimization, streamlines cash processing functionality by offering a suite of products that provides 360-degree cash management coverage for casino operators. According to company literature, Glory Global’s back-room cash processing products and systems emphasize productivity; important to casino operators as they look for ways to enhance their bottom line. Cash dispensers, recyclers and currency handling products provide a reduction in time due to fewer steps in the counting process and added security due to less handling of cash by employees.

Recently, the company has been showcasing its cash management solutions including its award winning CASHINFINITY smart cash management solutions, the RBG-300 intelligent cash recycler and Quick Change self service coin deposit solution. Together they provide operators with a wide assortment of productive, efficient and secure cash management systems designed to streamline cash processes.

CASHINFINITY, Glory’s retail solution offers iSMART Cash Management solutions that consist of total secure closed cash management, centralized control of cash inventory and optimization of all cash processes throughout a store. Working in conjunction with the property’s POS system, CASHINFINITY’s flexible design and innovation easily meets the needs of any enterprise size, business segments and investment plan. Meanwhile, RBG-300 is designed specifically for the retail environment and can be operated stand-alone or connected to a financial institution or CIT network to process deposits and manage change funds. The Quick Change self-service coin solution provides better opportunities to attract more customers and to self-fund coin requirements.

 “Our products provide a closed-loop cash processing system for casino operators,” Richard Friese, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Glory Global, told Casino Journal last fall. “We provide the technology operators need to easily manage cash throughout the gaming enterprise.”

 

BEYOND THE BRICKS

Of course, the need to efficiently process cash in a back-office gaming environment extends beyond brick-and-mortar operations. As casinos foray into the for-pay eGaming space, they seek cash solutions that can manage and process online payments. Recently, GameAccount Network (GAN) and Global Cash Access (GCA) announced a strategic alliance to integrate GCA’s Everi suite of payment products into the GameAccount Network GameSTACK iGaming platform to offer gaming operators a secure, interactive platform and payments solution.

GAN and GCA combined their expertise to offer interactive solutions for online gaming and secure payments processing, thereby by providing a single point of integration and affording operators the ability to provide iGaming alternatives to patrons.

“GCA has long been a trusted payments processing provider focused on the gaming industry,” said Dermot Smurfit, CEO of GameAccount Network. “We are delighted to integrate their comprehensive suite of payment products into our GameSTACK platform to better serve the developing US online gaming market.”

GCA is an industry leader in gaming payments, cash access and cash management solutions; and recently announced the release of Everi, a suite of interactive gaming products for payments processing, funds management and player and transaction analytics.

 

REPORT AND COMPLY

Another important back-office function when it comes to casino cash management is ensuring a property meets the various monetary compliance regulations mandated by state and federal governments. Las Vegas-based NEWave, a leading compliance and efficiency software supplier to the gaming industry, has long been a pioneer in this field, and celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2013 with its strongest sales year to date.

The company expanded its client base from 250 to just under 300 across the United States while exceeding sales over the prior year, as well as exceeding sales projections for 2013, according to company literature.

“Last year was a year of tremendous growth for us, and we are very grateful to our clients for their support and to our staff for making these achievements possible,” said Jim Bach, NEWave chairman. “We are not resting on our success. We have every intention of making 2014 an even better year.”

A push by casinos to achieve the highest possible levels of compliance helped to fuel NEWave’s success, according to company officials.  “We have been working closely with casinos across the U.S. to help them understand that meeting minimal compliance obligations is insufficient under new Financial Crimes Enforcement Network [FinCEN] guidelines,” said Clair Rogers, senior vice president of sales for NEWave. “Casinos want to achieve higher levels of compliance and we have the software solutions to help them accomplish that goal.”

NEWave’s compliance software suite myCompliance Manager is comprised of many leading modules including Title 31 Manager, OFAC, TINCheck and others, including an eLearning program that conducts training online and ensures casinos’ mandatory training is up-to-date.

In 2013, the company unveiled extensive improvements to its myDocument Manager software suite. The updates serve to further streamline processes across the entire operation, casino and non-casino, including contract workflow.

Also in 2013, NEWave marked the 15th year of its Revenue Manager software suite with several new installations at existing properties and at new properties, such as Margaritaville Bossier City and Rocky Gap Casino Resort. myRevenue Manager dramatically increases efficiencies by converting mounds of paperwork into searchable digital images and totaled columns, all with fast and easy search and audit capabilities.

“We have a solid foundation in place in terms of software, development, sales and service,” Bach said. “We are confident 2014 will be another exciting year.”

 

TRIBAL PROGRESS

Resort Advantage (RA), makers of the award-winning Complete FinCEN/IRS Compliance Solution, also have an eye on growth in 2014, recently partnering with Theron “Scarlet Raven” Thompson to formally establish RA’s new Native American Gaming Division (NAGD).

“Expanding upon our success in the Native American community has been a clear objective for our company and we are pleased to partner with Theron Thompson to lead our expansion into Indian Country,” said Brian Ferrilla, managing director at Resort Advantage in a prepared statement. “Theron’s knowledge, education, and insight into Indian Country allows RA to deliver our proven vision to many more tribal casino customers, helping them to reduce costs, minimize risk, increase revenues, and work towards establishing a ‘findings free’ FinCEN and IRS compliance management environment.”

As the FinCEN ramps up its efforts to audit and assess fines to more casinos in the years to come, RA is committed to helping more tribally-owned casinos to avoid costly violations of the anti-money laundering regulations. Though there are approximately 420 gaming establishments owned and operated by nearly 240 tribes across 28 states, generally only the largest properties have already taken steps to automate their AML compliance management processes, according to RA. The company is working hard to bring these same fine-eliminating AML compliance management capabilities to the hundreds of smaller properties across the country that need them, and Thompson will be focused on that effort, playing a key role in furthering RA’s business relationships and expanding RA’s customer base across the Native American gaming industry.