Cashing in: why payments are key to the success of an online casino

Players want to know their transactions are safe and secure.
Players want to know their transactions are safe and secure.

Martyn Hannah, managing director of Comparasino, says that online casino operators must level up their payment gateways if they are to acquire and retain players at scale.

Payments are one of the most effective drivers of acquisition and retention for online casino operators but remain overlooked by many brands.

Why are payments so important? Because if players can’t pay the way they want to, they will leave the online casino for a rival brand that does offer the methods they want to use to deposit and withdraw.

But it’s not just the range of methods operators must consider. Speed of payments – especially withdrawals – and security of transactions are key considerations for players when deciding where to play or whether to stay with a brand.

Despite this, many operators still miss the mark when it comes to fast withdrawals, and this is often because they don’t offer the methods that facilitate instant payouts.

At Comparasino, we are starting to generate a picture of what UK players expect from online casinos with data being collected through our powerful recommendation engine.

Players input their preferences and we use this information to match them with online casino brands that offer exactly what they are looking for. While bonuses are the strongest driver of where they play, payment options come a close second.  

In terms of the payment methods they are seeking, we see a strong preference for digital wallets with PayPal among the most popular but with plenty of interest in MuchBetter casinos.

Mobile wallets are in higher demand than they have ever been, with Apple Pay casinos regularly being matched with our players’ preferences.

This aligns with a shift towards mobile payments across the wider e-commerce space. A broken debit card led me to use Apple Pay for the first time, and I’m now very much a convert thanks to the sheer convenience it offers.

It’s important to remember that online casino players are seeking convenience too – they want to sign up and deposit with as little friction as possible so that they can play their favourite games without delay. Mobile wallets certainly allow them to do this. 

Operators that do not offer these alternative payment methods (debit cards being traditional) in their cashiers are missing a major opportunity to engage a much wider player base and in such highly competitive markets as the UK, this is an opportunity they can’t afford to miss.  

Payments also present tremendous retention opportunities to explore.

Deposits are always instant, but payouts can take several working days to process and for winnings to land in player accounts. This leads to a negative consumer experience and one that can damage the trust between the player and the casino brand.

If that trust is damaged beyond repair, the player will leave the brand for good. On the flip side, those who receive their winnings quickly will foster a much stronger connection with, and deeper feeling of trust towards, the casino.

Mobile and digital wallets provide these fast payouts, but we are also seeing operators join forces with payment providers like TrueLayer and Vyne to meet players’ need for speed. Both of these solutions use open banking to facilitate instant transactions between the player and the casino.

In addition to fast payouts, players want to know their transactions are safe and secure. While most of the protections are mandated by regulators and provided through the payment methods themselves, operators still have a role to play here.

This is certainly the case when it comes to how customer funds are stored. In the UK market, there are three levels of fund segregation defined by the Gambling Commission – no protection, medium protection and high protection.

While all licenced operators are required to separate customer funds from operational funds, only at the highest levels are they actually protected in the event the casino goes bust.

This is something players are unlikely to be aware of, given the level of fund protection provided is often buried deep in the operator’s terms and conditions. It’s also surprising just how many brands offer no level of protection whatsoever with only a handful offering medium protection.

I for one am pleased to see this is an area being discussed in the consultations currently underway following the UK government’s white paper published last year.

Ultimately, if operators are to acquire and retain players at scale, they must level up their payment gateways to include more options – especially digital and mobile wallets – and do all they can to facilitate fast payouts.

Those looking to really build a strong and long-lasting relationship with their players will then underpin this with a transparent and fair approach to how they segregate and protect players’ funds.

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