Open Banking, Artificial Intelligence (AI), digital wallets and data analytics are reshaping the US betting and gaming sector. As the online market grows in the country, these technologies are influencing both the customer payments journey and operator compliance procedures.

In the latest edition of the SBC Leaders magazine, Nicole Cemelli, Vice President of Finance at Tipico Sportsbook, spoke to Payment Expert about the bookmaker’s experience of the US betting and gaming payments landscape – and the financial technologies and practices which are driving it forward.

Nicole Cemelli, Tipico Sportsbook – Source: Tipico Sportsbook

Payment Expert: US betting is a highly competitive marketplace. How important are payments to ensuring a competitive edge for companies like Tipico?

Nicole Cemelli: In our industry, seamless payment processes play a crucial role in the overall user experience; one negative experience or delay in payout can be the difference between a customer jumping ship or staying with a book. Customers expect quick, convenient, and secure payment methods to make deposits and withdraw their winnings. 

By partnering with reputable payment processors and integrating with popular digital wallets, Tipico has expanded our reach, and it allows for us to deliver the payment security and user convenience that customers expect. This is all in accordance with the Tipico Fair Play Pledge, which is our commitment to safety and clarity for the customer in everything we do, including payments. The more recognised and secure options that we have available to our customers allow us to enhance the user experience and drive retention.

PE: We’ve seen Open Banking increasingly adopted by European operators. How significant is the technology in the US igaming sector?

NC: Open Banking hasn’t seen the same level of implementation in the US igaming sector as it has in Europe, but there is great potential for growth for the system here once regulations on third-party access to financial data are more developed. The major benefits would be automation of the KYC process and improvement in its reliability and identifying “problem behaviour” by analysing financial data, which ultimately can make it possible for the industry to be more proactive in protecting customers. 

Open Banking technologies, if implemented effectively, also offer advantages such as faster payouts, easier account funding, and personalised financial services. Open Banking opens up access for data collection on the individual which can be utilised to offer personalised services, such as tailored promotions, responsible gambling tools, and customised recommendations based on spending habits. Conversely, the major grey area is what this could mean for data privacy and security.

PE: Do you experience customer payment trends differing state-to-state and how do you ensure your payments strategy is differentiated to meet this?

NC: We don’t necessarily see a clear difference in customer payment trends by state; however, based on state demographics, there could be some variances in usage of certain payment types or providers. When it comes to people’s money, they want to use a payment method that they feel most comfortable with, and perhaps have a history of using elsewhere. Unrelated to state variances, we do notice that VIP players seem less likely to use a specific PSP.

PE: From your experience, how has Tipico navigated any regulatory differences when it comes to gaming payments processing across various states?

NC: Compliance with payment regulations is essential in the highly regulated betting industry. We work very closely with our Compliance department in every area of the business. Some regulators are more strict than others in timing and the handling of certain situations, so our finance team takes careful steps to maintain up to date information on regulation across each state to mitigate risk, operate legally and maintain trust with customers. 

PE: Can we expect AI to significantly influence the development of the operator payment experience and wider KYC journey?

NC: AI is changing the world. It would be foolish to ignore the opportunities AI can bring to the igaming sector, or, even more specifically, to the user experience. 

I find the best use case for AI is its ability to perform predictive analytics, which allows for clearer business insights and decision making. AI-powered predictive analytics can forecast payment trends and anticipate future customer behaviour. By analysing historical data and market trends, AI algorithms can provide valuable insights into payment preferences, peak transaction times, and emerging payment methods. 

This information enables operators to adapt their payment strategies proactively and stay ahead of the competition. Tipico is very focused on utilising AI and making it not only a part of our operations, but eventually a part of our product, all with the goal of enhancing the user experience.

PE: Are there any technology innovations in US AML and fraud prevention which stand out from its European counterpart?

NC: The US has been at the forefront of utilising data analytics for AML and fraud prevention. US financial institutions leverage vast amounts of transactional and customer data to detect anomalies, assess risks, and identify potential money laundering activities. 

Advanced analytics techniques, including network analysis and behaviour profiling, enable US organisations to uncover complex fraud schemes and money laundering operations more effectively. With this in mind, our operations team goes through extensive training on AML regulation. 

PE: What lessons can igaming take from other sectors when it comes to technological innovation in payments? 

NC: There are valuable lessons to be learned from other sectors as it relates to technological innovation in payments. Financial institutions, for one, employ advanced fraud prevention techniques that igaming operators benefit by implementing. 

Whether it’s gathering user experience techniques from our favourite e-commerce sites, leveraging data analytics to gain insights similar to how brick and mortar retailers do, or aligning our AML and KYC standards with that of Banking Institutions, the knowledge is out there and the edge is going to be with the operator that can incorporate learnings from all these sectors and apply them to igaming operations.

PE: Can you give us a breakdown of any innovative approaches to payments Tipico has embarked on for its US operations?

NC: At Tipico, we’re always looking for ways to enhance our customers’ experience through innovative payment solutions. We’ve rolled out features like faster payouts to ensure that our customers can access their winnings quickly and with ease. In addition to this, we’ve integrated our loyalty program directly into the user journey, which keeps us at the forefront of the industry.

Our latest initiative is the launch of Tipico Cashback Rewards. This system automatically grants our customers 3% cashback on straight bets and 5% on parlays. Unlike other complex incentives in the market, our cashback rewards are designed to be transparent and easily accessible—there’s no opt-in required, and customers can redeem their rewards on the same day. It’s a testament to our commitment to provide a clear and rewarding betting environment, and it’s been well received by our users in its pilot stage before its official launch on 26 February.

PE: As the market continues to develop, how is Tipico ensuring it will remain at the forefront of any igaming payment innovations in the future?

NC: Overall, payments – the ease, speed, and transparency of – are integral to maintaining a competitive edge in the US betting market. Tipico continually innovates, prioritises user experience, ensures regulatory compliance, and prioritises security. It’s a highly competitive industry and we’re looking to make a noticeable impact. 

As part of the Tipico Fair Play Pledge, we are committed to fair dealings with our customers, establishing trust by providing them with a safe, clear, and fun experience with quick access to their betslips and player wallets.