Wednesday, September 15, 2010

TIME IS MONEY. DOWNTIME IS MORE MONEY.


Unlike the traditional merchant transaction processing environment, the delivery of cash access services, and the products through which they are delivered, need to meet extremely high standards of reliability and efficiency in order to handle the high transaction volume of the casino gaming industry.

The overall US gaming industry operates in over 40 States and generates an estimated $90 billion in revenue (Data: American Gaming Association). Cash access services are present in numerous venues, which include the traditional casinos of Las Vegas and Atlantic City, Native American Casinos, Riverboat Casinos, Pari-mutuel Race Tracks, and Card Rooms.

Cash access products play a mission critical role for gaming operators with an estimated 70% of gaming revenue being derived from such services. Most gaming operators rely on outsourced third party companies like Sightline Payments to provide these services to their patrons. We estimate the North American (on an annual basis) Gaming Cash Access market to be $25 billion dispensed to patrons and over 100 million transaction approvals, generating an estimated $950 million in revenue for the industry.

High availability with a goal of zero downtime is a Sightline Payments system design approach and associated service implementation that ensures a prearranged level of operational performance will be met during a contractual measurement period. Casino operators want their cash access systems, for example ATM’s, cash advances, check cashing services, and redemption devices to be ready to serve their guests at all times.

Availability refers to the ability of the casino guest to complete a transaction using the various as access systems. If a guest cannot access the system, it is said to be unavailable. Generally, the term downtime is used to refer to periods when a system is unavailable.

A casino operator must also make the distinction between scheduled and unscheduled downtime. Typically, scheduled downtime is a result of maintenance that is disruptive to system operation and usually cannot be avoided with a currently installed system design. Scheduled downtime events might include patches to system software that require a reboot or system configuration changes that only take effect upon a reboot. In general, scheduled downtime is usually the result of some logical, service provider-initiated event. Unscheduled downtime events typically arise from some physical event, such as a hardware, software, or telecommunications failure or environmental anomaly.

Many casino cash access service providers exclude scheduled downtime from availability calculations, assuming, correctly or incorrectly, that scheduled downtime has little or no impact upon the casino guest. By excluding scheduled downtime, many service providers can claim to have phenomenally high availability, which might give the illusion of continuous availability.

Availability is usually expressed as a percentage of uptime in a given year. The following table shows the downtime that will be allowed for a particular percentage of availability, presuming that the system is required to operate continuously:

Uptime and availability are not synonymous. A system can be up, but not available, as in the case of a network outage.

Casinos are a 24 hour business and as you can see in the above table anything less than 99.5% availability is equivalent to closing the casino doors for days. Gaming revenue impact from downtime can be substantial if the cash access service provider is less than 99.9% availability which is why it is critically important to fully vet a casino cash access supplier’s systems.

Mr. Sanford, President, CEO and Director was featured by Business Week Magazine as one of the Top 100 CEO’s Under 40 and has also been involved with a number of other successful businesses. He started Sightline Payments LLC in 2009.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Black Hat Conference in Vegas

Cyber attacks have been a threat to global security for 15 years. Each year, more cyber attacks occur. The computer security world has dubbed those individuals who commit cyber fraud as “Black Hats.”

The “Black Hat” computer security conference originated in 1997 as an annual conference. Its attendee list includes government representatives, FBI agents, computer hackers and other computer experts.

The 2010 Black Hat Conference was just held in Las Vegas. One speaker, Barnaby Jack, did a presentation pertinent to the ATM industry. His topic: “Jackpotting Automated Teller Machines.” In his demonstration, he took a detour from the commonly known ATM hacks (skimming devices or smash and grabs). Barnaby was able to have the terminal spew out currency by attacking the terminal’s software.

Sightline Payments LLC doesn't know if it's “fact or fiction” in this identified hacking scheme, but, as Sightline uncover further information, we will share our discoveries.

To read more on this topic, visit

http://www.zdnet.com/blog/security/hacker-breaks-into-atms-dispenses-cash-remotely/6996?tag=nl.e539



Kirk, Tom, and Diran

Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act

President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act into law on July 21, 2010. This law is commonly referred to as the Durbin Interchange Amendment. The amendment imposes restrictions on interchange fees paid by merchants on debit card transactions and directs the Federal Reserve to issue regulations implementing those restrictions.

The Federal Reserve is required by the law to issue final rules within 9 months; the restrictions take effect 12 months after the bill was signed into law (by July 21, 2011).

Sightline is actively monitoring the Durbin Interchange Amendment process as well as through its partners contacting the Federal Reserve as it begins to define the requirements. As further details become known and available, Sightline will share them with you.

Kirk, Tom, and Diran

Revised Department of Justice ADA Regulations

On Friday, July 23, 2010, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in the Department of Justice (DOJ) signed additional ADA (American Disabilities Act) regulations which included requirement for ATMs. The new requirements are specifically targeted for “on premise” ATMs, directly impacting Financial Institutions. The DOJ classifies ATMs under the communication-related elements as auxiliary aids and services. The regulations address hearing impaired access/usage and well as visual impairment requirements. The DOJ did not provide any Safe Harbor exemptions for existing ATMs. The Regulations take effect six (6) months after the regulations are published in the Federal register, which is anticipated in the next couple of weeks.

At this time, this regulation applies only to financial institution ATMs. If you currently process and/or service financial institution ATMs, please visit www.ada.org to review the regulation.

The Sightline Payments team is working with appropriate parties to keep you informed of the changes. Updates will be provided as available.

Kirk Sanford
Tom Sears
Diran Kludjian

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sightline Payments: Fast, Reliable and Secure

Sightline Payments LLC: Fast, Reliable and Secure

Many features draw patrons into a casino: variety of gaming options, reputation and atmosphere, plus dining and entertainment offerings. None of that proves important, though, if the casino does not make cash transactions fast, reliable and secure for its patrons. Sightline Payments ensures that casinos can deliver on that front, with its suite of cash-access and ticket-redemption solutions and services. Chief executive officer and president Kirk Sanford founded the Las Vegas company to raise the quality level of gaming-transaction products, and to offer them to casinos at a lower cost.

Sightline Payments’ products include:

ATM – With the company’s Integrated SmartBox ATM3X software on an ATM, a casino patron can receive a debit- or credit-cash advance after exceeding his daily withdrawal limit, without PIN entry. Sightline Payments’ software works on the latest Wincor, NCR and Diebold ATMs.

Redemption Kiosks – Sightline Payments’ Integrated SmartBox ATM3X software also runs on Glory's SK-100A ticket-redemption and bill-breaking kiosks. A casino patron can redeem tickets, break bills and cash checks, in addition to regular ATM transactions. Through Glory, these kiosks also offer flexible financing terms.

Check Cashing – Thanks to its gaming-centric approach and a partnership with industry-leader Certegy, the Check Warranty product from Sightline Payments results in more checks accepted and more money spent on the casino floor.

Cash Advances – Stylishly designed with a large, colorful display, Sightline Payments’ cash-advance kiosks use the latest VeriFone terminals to make transactions fast, simple and intuitive for casino patrons. Many features – including not requiring PIN entry – cut down on call-referral transactions and turndowns.

SmartStation – This Sightline Payments product allows a casino’s cage personnel to perform transactions quickly and efficiently, which results in improved workflow and reduced costs. The SmartStation integrates all products, services and customer data over the in-house networks a casino already has in place. High-speed transactions, reporting, compliance features, electronic-signature capture to streamline chargeback responses, checkless deposits, self-exclusion and limit programs, plus auto-reversals within 3 hours for transactions which patrons do not complete are just a few of the features of this product.

In addition to its impressive line of products, Sightline Payments offers unparalleled uptime through multiple real-time, fully redundant data centers. All systems are SAS Type II and PCI compliant. And, customer service covers systems and services via a 24/7 call center.

Providing these high-quality products and services has been the goal of CEO/president Kirk Sanford since day one. In a similar role at Global Cash Access Inc., he took the company from start-up to a NYSE public company with more than $1.5Billion in market capitalization and $650M in annualized revenues. Business Week featured Kirk Sanford as one of its Top 100 CEOs Under 40. Rounding out the management team are executive vice president of business development Tom Seas and executive vice president of sales Diran Kludjian. The Sightline Payments’ team has more combined experience in the gaming industry than any other company in this line of business, and it constantly strives to increase gaming revenue for casinos while at the same time lowering costs.

About Sightline Payments: The targeted mission of Sightline Payments – founded by Kirk Sanford, a pioneer and leader in payment and marketing services to the casino industry – is to be one of the gaming industry's preferred cash-access and ticket-redemption providers by focusing on delivering outstanding value, continuous innovation, exceptional guest experience, and consistently fulfilling a customer-focused promise. Sightline Payments is headquartered in Las Vegas, NV.