Joe Pappano, Sightline: Payments are the front door to the digital gaming space

Sightline - Payments are the front door to the digital gaming space

As the fierce competition for players in the US sports betting and igaming market continues, using the most effective payments solution gives operators the chance to differentiate their offer and build customer loyalty, according to Sightline Co-CEO Joe Pappano

Ahead of Sightline’s participation in next week’s SBC Summit North America conference, Pappano told SBC Americas what both omnichannel and pure play digital operators need to think about to get payments right.  

SBC: Millions of Americans think nothing of using their mobile phone to buy a coffee in Starbucks. What will it take for mobile payments to become as ubiquitous in the betting and gaming industry as they are in coffee shops? 

JP: For mobile payments to become ubiquitous in gaming, we must have a similar customer experience to what you see in a Starbucks – an easy to enroll, fund, and use solution that provides customers with loyalty and value. 

The key to unlocking that in gaming is providing an omnichannel payments solution where customers can use the same account across an operator’s online sportsbook, online casino, and brick-and-mortar casino, while enabling a customer to earn loyalty rewards wherever they play.

SBC: What changes have you noticed in land-based casino players’ habits as a result of the pandemic? Have the public health messages of the last two years persuaded more players to take advantage of cashless payment options?

JP: The gaming industry’s recovery after being shut down at the start of the pandemic is nothing short of remarkable. Cashless gaming options are now live in at least eight states across both commercial and tribal jurisdictions across the country, and we’ve been working with our operator partners to provide new states with those opportunities. 

Data from the American Gaming Association shows that 54% of all previous year casino visitors would use digital payment options, increasing to nearly 90% for high-visitation and high-value visitors – a clear indication that casino patrons want this sort of technology as an option.

SBC: In the online sportsbook and igaming space, customer surveys have consistently shown that easy ways to deposit funds and quick payouts are key to building player loyalty. What advice would you offer to mobile operators about getting payments right? 

JP: Payments are the front door to the digital gaming space. Customers have to fund their accounts immediately after enrolling, and they want to have a clean, easy experience with their first deposit. As a result, payments needs to be an area of real focus for operators. 

As people like Chris Grove have highlighted, operators can use payments as a way to differentiate themselves from competitors in the intense competition for player acquisition. Fast withdrawals are key to this. Payments can help retain your players by providing them with options for deposits and withdrawals, and enabling them to earn loyalty for their online and in-person betting or really anywhere they use their account.

SBC: Sightline’s Play+ product is now available to use with many of the biggest mobile sportsbook brands in the US. How does it differ from other payment methods? 

JP: Play+ has been an integral part of the evolution of payments landscape for legal online gaming since New Jersey launched in 2013. Our solution provides customers with quick access to their funds thanks to our integrations into nearly every legal sportsbook in the US. 

We enable quick and readily accessible deposits and withdrawals even on weekends and holidays, unlike traditional withdrawal methods through bank transfers. We also provide customers with the ability to spend their money anywhere a Discover or Mastercard is accepted – meaning you can spend your winnings at millions of establishments worldwide. And it provides a separate account for your gaming spend to help you budget better and not use your everyday funds to wager. 

Certainly, for operators, Play+ enables them to extend their brand and have a spot in a customer’s wallet since every Play+ customer receives a co-branded debit card with the operator’s logo on it.

SBC: The pace of fintech innovation is unrelenting; have you spotted any emerging technologies that you believe have the potential to reshape the payments journey for either land-based or online gamblers? 

JP: For me, real-time payments (RTP) and request for deposit (RFP) really are the game-changers coming down the pike. 

RTP will enable the fastest payouts providing customers with near instant access to their withdrawals. This removes huge points of friction for the consumer and in some cases, several days of the process. 

RFP will significantly reduce fraud, particularly friendly fraud, by instantly depositing funds into a customer’s account instead of having those funds settled via traditional methods. 

Other innovations, like the use of cryptocurrency and buy-now-pay-later (BNPL), might have some applicability to the gaming space, but I think those solutions are farther down the path for adoption. 


SBC Summit North America 2022, the leading conference and tradeshow for the sports betting and igaming industries in the region, takes place at Meadowlands Exposition Center, New Jersey on July 12-14.

Sightline’s SVP Strategic Development & Government Affairs Jonathan Michaels will be part of the ‘Establishing the role of financial institutions in player protection’ session at the Player Protection Symposium on July 12, while its Co-CEO Omer Sattar will take part in the ‘Keeping pace with innovation – from the blockchain to the metaverse’ panel on the main conference’s Payments track on July 13. 

Tickets for the event, which include access to eight conference tracks, an exhibition showcasing the next generation of industry products, and entrance to a selection of evening networking parties, can be booked at the SBC Summit North America website