As the American sports betting landscape continues to be transformed by statewide regulation, financial services industry titan Visa has confirmed plans to capitalize on the growing market.
Christopher Granger – who serves as U.S. gaming and lottery services lead for Visa – revealed the news while speaking as part of a panel discussion held at the 2019 Global Gaming Expo (G2E) earlier this month.
The panel, titled “Efficient and Secure Payments Strategies to Drive an Improved Payment Experience,” also included Joe Pappano (senior vice president of U.S. gaming for WorldPay) Neil Erlick, (executive vice president of business development for Paysafe), and Thomas Winter (senior vice president & general manager of online gaming for Golden Nugget).
Like other major lending institutions, including main rival MasterCard, Visa already allows cardholders to use debit or credit cards to fund online / mobile gambling accounts in regulated jurisdictions. But as Granger explained during the G2E panel, Visa hopes to break new ground by creating a “ready funds” card that will be compatible with brick and mortar sportsbook payment processors.
Visa Hopes to Change the Game for Cash-Centric Sportsbooks
In an interview with Sports Handle conducted a few days after the G2E concluded, Christopher Granger confirmed Visa’s imminent plans to integrate card payments at land-based sportsbooks:
“It’s no surprise, the biggest time of the year in the U.S. for sports wagering is the NFL season.
We have a short window, we’re trying to work with operators to at least get some test trials out there.”
In the interview, Granger described Visa’s timeline for sportsbook implementation as “within the next month.”
Granger also sought to preempt concerns over problem gambling by pointing out that so-called ready funds cards good at the sports book would never be connected to a line of credit. Instead, sports bettors would need to deposit or transfer cash to the card account beforehand a la traditional debit card usage.
During his time on stage at the G2E, Granger discussed the Nevada sports betting industry’s decades-long policy of accepting cash only at the betting window. Based on the fact that most major land-based sportsbook operators in Las Vegas and beyond already allow bettors to fund online / mobile app accounts using Visa cards, Granger believes an “omni-channel solution” will soon be available to in-person bettors.
As he explained Visa’s vision to Sports Handle, Granger predicts digital wallets accessible from smartphones and other online / mobile devices will be used to fund land-based sportsbook accounts within the next two years:
“Let’s electronify the space, get rid of cash and make it so it’s a more transparent and efficient way to transact a payment transaction.”
Visa isn’t alone in pursuing land-based sportsbook integration, as Pappano of WorldPay told the G2E crowd that Bank of America, Chase, and Capital One were among the other prominent banking firms currently exploring the emerging vertical.
New Jersey Looks to be Proving Ground for VISA Integration
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a pair of sports betting bills during his tenure, defying a federal ban on the industry outside of Nevada known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992.
A subsequent lawsuit filed by the NCAA and North America’s four major professional sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL) wound up reaching the U.S. Supreme Court, which issued a 6-3 ruling overturning PASPA in May of 2018.
Christie delivered a keynote speech at the G2E, where he recounted a story about his young nephew using the Venmo app rather than cash to top a valet driver to explain the need for cashless payment processing within the sports betting industry:
“If you don’t make mobile easy and accessible, they will not bet. They just won’t.”
Per current regulations put in place by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE), cards like Visa are already approved for in-person sportsbook wagering.
Despite that fact, however, Granger told Sports Handle that Visa is still awaiting delivery of its payment processing devices to sportsbook partners, while employees onsite will need to complete card payment training courses:
“We just need to get over the operational hurdles.”