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Success across the pond: Worldpay and the US market

| By Laura Gumbrell | Reading Time: 5 minutes
The US is one of the most lucrative markets in gambling. So how does a leading fintech company ensure it’s in prime position to reap the benefits? Worldpay believes that understanding what is needed from a payments provider and making the most of operator partnerships gives it the edge when tackling the US head on.
Success across the pond Worldpay

Worldpay offers innovative payment solutions, including some of the biggest markets in gambling such as Europe, North America and LatAm. Whether it’s cashless payments, omnichannel solutions or fraud prevention, Worldpay is one of the leading payment providers worldwide.

With the North America market now on every payment provider’s radar due to the passing of sports betting regulations in various states, including Maine in 2022 and Massachusetts earlier this year, Worldpay is looking to spearhead the sector. Joe Watkins, president of gaming solutions at Worldpay, shares the master plan for achieving the American dream.

The US payments market: size and scope

It’s safe to say that entering the US market isn’t without its challenges. Since the US Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling that overturned a federal ban on sports betting, the online gambling landscape in the US has become increasingly complex. States can regulate or prohibit sports betting as they see fit, while those jurisdictions that have legalised the practice are free to implement their own set of rules. Some states have faced battles to pass legislation – California being a prime example.

Regardless of these complexities, the US online gambling market in North America is expected to register a CAGR of 11.78% over the next 5 years, making it a prime target for the likes of Worldpay and its competitors.

As both state and federal laws continue to change and shape the industry, the race to dominate the region is the only option if payments providers want to stay on top.

Offering global payments solutions

Globally, Worldpay is one of the most well-known and reputable payment providers. It is not only the number 1 global acquirer, but it serves 60% of the top 10 world’s largest merchants and processes for 2.2M merchant locations worldwide – having completed over 48.6 billion transactions in 2022.

From end-to-end encryption and tokenisation services to award-winning fraud tools and hosted payments pages, Worldpay maintains its pole position across all forms of payment regulations.

With a global customer base that boasts some of the industry’s most famous names, among them 888 and Betcris, Worldpay is looking to replicate its success in other markets.

Customising payment methods

For Watkins and his team, this success doesn’t stem from a one-size-fits-all approach but rather by focusing on personalisation for each individual customer. From the OmniToken product, which helps players secure transactions and minimise fraud, to universal wallets, they’ve thought of everything.

An example of this, Watkins explains, is Worldpay working on building solutions that meet the needs of operators in each individual jurisdiction, not the continent as a whole. “In Massachusetts and Iowa, we help clients block credit cards based on local statutes,” he says. “Whether it’s type or amount, we help our clients adhere to their local regulations with our industry-leading technology.

“It is our experience matched with our technology that makes the biggest difference for the gaming operators that we support.”

“We allow our operators’ payments to be fully optimised for their business, and to meet their business objectives, so they can focus on what they’re amazing at, which is providing top-notch entertainment and creating loyalty with their customers. We allow the payments to be a benefit to their business, rather than an expense.”

Tackling the payments obstacles

Legalisation might be out of operators’ hands, but once a market is declared open, other hurdles await. They then face a list of payment challenges from card abandonment to cutting CACs (customer acquisition costs), both of which have an adverse impact on adoption rates and revenue.

Worldpay wants to ease the weight of these challenges on operators’ shoulders by making the payments journey for players as seamless as possible, regardless of their location.

“Gaming operators work very hard and spend a tremendous amount of capital getting to know who a customer is, getting them to download an app, input all their personal information, and make a wager,” Watkins says. “The last leg of that initial customer journey is making sure the payment works.

“Worldpay can provide its operators with an omni token that enables customers to come back and load additional funds with a single click while minimising the PCI scope and risk for the gaming operator.”

Reducing fraud and targeting loyalty

Seamless player payment journeys are just one step in a very long trek for success. Worldpay has identified other crucial areas that need work, especially in new emerging markets like North America, such as ways to reduce fraud.

Each year cards kept on file ‘go bad’ – people lose them, they near their expiry, duplicates are in rotation and the issuer provides a new card. Worldpay combats this by keeping all customer information on tap, Watkins explains.

“We have ways to update that information on behalf of the operator so the next time the customer tries to make a payment, it just works. This not only saves that transaction, but it has been shown to increase loyalty generally.”

“40% of customers say that they choose where to play online purely based on how quickly they can be paid out,” says Watkins. “Worldpay enables numerous best-in-class payout solutions including RTP, ACH, Interac, Wire, and my favourite, OCTs. By turning these solutions on, operators create loyalty with their existing customers and a reason for new customers to switch to them.”

The passion behind gaming

So what fuels the fire for Worldpay to keep penetrating new markets and striving for successful relationships? For Watkins, working in the gaming industry is, and always has been, a labour of love – a passion that first drew him to the industry back in 2012.

“As a kid growing up in Vegas, I idolised the casino hosts, and I’ve worked to make myself a real leader in this industry. I had a dream of making an impact in this field that I love, and now I get to make that happen every day. We have worked at every level to expand gaming – working with the card networks to accept payments where they previously weren’t.”

Since its inception, Worldpay has worked with issuing banks to accept gaming transactions and to modify the risk profile associated with gaming. Watkins and the team actively contribute to industry associations, helping provide the expertise that shapes legislation and regulations in the US; it’s clear from Worldpay’s business strategy that this shared enthusiasm is what sets the team apart from competitors.

“Whether that is our best-in-class fraud tool, enabling the quickest payouts or maximising transaction efficiencies, we empower gaming companies to be at the cutting edge of the latest payments innovations,” he says.

What the team does differently is to “work closely with the AGA, legislators, top gaming law firms and fellow thought leaders in gaming to stay on top of what’s happening on the state roadmap.”

As soon as new states are legalised, Worldpay is there at the starting line, ready to work on getting licensed immediately. So let the race begin.

Joseph Watkins is the President of Worldpay Gaming Solutions at Worldpay from FIS. A Las Vegas native, Joe is a proud alumnus of UNLV. He has worked in various roles within the industry over the last ten years, and has the unique perspective of a gaming operator, casino marketer, and payments expert. An innovator, Joe frequently collaborates with networks, regulators, and merchants to bring new business models, technology, and markets to bear. Joe champions the modernisation of payments in gaming, and believes payments are the new frontier of exceptional guest service and profitability. In addition to his work at Worldpay Gaming Solutions, Joe serves as a Director on the Board of Directors with the American Gaming Association, as Co-Chair of the Payments Committee of the Canadian Gaming Association, and as part of the steering committee of an international DEI network.

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