The coronavirus has pushed casino operators in ways they were not expecting in 2020. The corporations have changed gears to incorporate new systems to make guests feel comfortable inside of casinos.
Guests will notice that there have already been changes throughout the casino experience. In the past year, casino guests have seen more contactless innovations. Hotels inside casinos are allowing guests to check-in via kiosk or mobile device. Some casino restaurants are offering mobile reservations, menus, and ordering via mobile devices.
The casino floors have added more electronic table games to compliment social distancing efforts. More casino operators are offering cashless gaming. This removes another human contact point whether a player is visiting an ATM or just handing over cash to a dealer or machine.
The digital revolution on the casino floor will continue.
Moving forward with cashless gaming
New Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman, J. Brin Gibson wants to quickly fix some of the problems that popped up for Nevada casinos in the past year.
In an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Gibson says the following about cashless gaming systems:
“There’s a lot of opportunity here,” he said. “I don’t like to just plod along. I like to take on big challenges and find a way to fix them. And this is definitely one of those.”
“Cashless wagering is a simple way of funding gambling activities. There’s going to be a huge push on the demand side. On the other side, on the regulatory side, I’d say that we want cashless wagering in some form or another because it makes it much easier to track activity.”
The idea of cashless gaming isn’t new to Nevada. However, there’s been pushback on the idea from problem gaming advocates. Even though the concept is moving forward, there’s still some concern.
The apprehension about cashless gaming for problem gamblers is understandable. Easier access to money could be an issue for some. The Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) has always been thorough, if not slow, approving new casino technology.
Gibson understands that there will need to be a compromise and he’s ready to come up with a cashless solution for Nevada casinos sooner than later. He told the LVRJ:
“I’m not going to turn this industry upside down, I can’t do that, it would be a dumb thing to do, but I’m going try to make it better and the only way to do that is to change some things.”
He concluded with…“So expect some change.”
Cashless gaming already available in some Nevada casinos
Cashless gaming started to roll out to Las Vegas casinos in 2020. Station Casinos installed AGS’s PlayOn cashless gaming system at some of its properties. This unit is available at select table games.
Circa, The D, Golden Gate, and The Strat casinos all followed Station and added the PlayOn system later in the year.
The PlayOn point of service system isn’t a perfect solution. There’s a price for this convenience. Players must pay a fee to use the service. Properties may have a different structure but there’s typically a flat fee of $4 plus a 2.5% transaction fee per day.
Last year, Ellis Island successfully tested Marker Trax. This is a different type of system that doesn’t have the same fee structure.
The Strat has also installed Marker Trax. The casino on the north end of the Vegas Strip now offers cashless options for table games and slot machines. Owner Golden Entertainment will use this at other Las Vegas casinos as well.
“The convenience and security of Marker Trax allows players to access an approved credit line in minutes, while eliminating touchpoints with physical cash and multiple personnel,” said Gary Ellis, owner of Ellis Island Casino, Hotel & Brewery.
Ellis tells the Las Vegas Sun that Marker Trax has 30-4o casinos signed up to offer the service.
These casinos are the first to offer cashless gaming but they won’t be the last.
More cashless gaming options coming
Some of the biggest gaming manufacturers have technology that appears to be ready for Nevada casinos to implement.
Everi is the company behind many of the ATMs in casinos today. The company has a variety of cashless gaming solutions. Casinos in Florida and Oklahoma are already using Everi’s CashClub Wallet.
Slot machine manufacturers Scientific Gaming and IGT both have cashless gaming systems for casinos. The latter received regulatory approval from Nevada earlier this month.
It should be noted that Station Casinos has been using IGT’s cardless loyalty system for a few years. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the company use the new cashless gaming solution for its slot machines. This would give Station Casinos a solution for table games and machines.
The large companies offering cashless gaming solutions could bring this technology to the large casino operators on the Vegas Strip thanks to already existing relationships. It’s only a matter of time until more casinos offer this kind of technology.
Actions speak louder than words
The NGCB shot down the first attempt of the year to expand cashless gaming.
Last year Sightline Payments asked the NGC to amend a regulation that would all the company to launch digital payment solutions across the United States. That request was denied.
Unlike the previously mentioned cashless gaming solutions, this would have allowed gamblers to open and fund mobile sports betting accounts remotely.
Omer Sattar, the co-founder of Sightline, says:
“Pertaining to remote registration, Sightline currently has no petition for any regulatory changes in Nevada.”
Nevada is one of the few states that have mobile sports betting apps but doesn’t allow mobile registration.
There are no inclinations on when this might be approached again. Mobile sportsbook registration is a hot button topic for gaming companies. This issue could, and should, be explored in the future.