US casinos push for cashless gambling payments, citing virus

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This April 17, 2015 photo shows stacks of gambling chips on a roulette table at the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City, N.J. On June 16, 2020, the American Gaming Association, the casino industry’s national trade group, called on state gambling regulators to make it easier for gamblers to use cashless betting options during the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

TLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — The American casino industry wants gambling regulators to make it easier to adopt cashless payment transactions on the casino floor, citing a desire to help customers avoid handling money during the coronavirus outbreak.

In a report released Tuesday, the American Gaming Association, the gambling industry’s national trade group, called on regulators in states where gambling is allowed to update their rules or laws to integrate cashless options for gamblers.

The push follows an 18-month study of the issue by both commercial and tribal casinos, and equipment suppliers to try to pave the way for cashless transactions on a wider basis.

Presently, a small number of casinos use such payments, which include debit or credit cards, as well as apps like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal. Wider acceptance of these options has long been a goal of the gambling industry.

“Advancing opportunities for digital payments has been one of our top priorities since my first day at the AGA,” said Bill Miller, the gambling group’s president and CEO. “It aligns with gaming’s role as a modern, 21st century industry and bolsters our already rigorous regulatory and responsible gaming measures. The COVID-19 pandemic made it all the more important to advance our efforts to provide customers with the payment choice they are more comfortable with and have increasingly come to expect in their daily lives.”

So far, there has not been widespread adoption of digital payment options at casinos or other gambling facilities in the U.S. Industry executives say this is due to several factors including limits imposed by state legislators or gambling regulators.

A handful of casinos in Nevada and some tribal casinos across the U.S. have digital options, but the technology is a new concept in many places.

The Nevada Gaming Commission has a hearing scheduled for June 25 where it is expected to accept the state Gaming Control Board’s recommendation for amendments to state regulations that would streamline the approval and testing process for modern payment methods.

David Rebuck, director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, said cashless transactions are already legal, adding, “We await products to be submitted by the casinos for approval to use on site.”

Nevada gambling regulators are “open to looking at new ways of how technology, including cashless wagering, can help attract new customers and be beneficial for not only the industry but even for responsible gaming measures as well,” said Sandra Douglass Morgan, chairwoman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

Among the benefits of cashless transactions cited by the AGA are the ability for gamblers to more easily follow and set limits on their gambling activity, and cutting down on the number of currency transaction reports that casinos have to file with the government regarding some customer transactions at the casino.

The continued spread of the coronavirus in parts of the country as many casinos reopen after months of being idled due is another reason the industry wants to ramp up cashless payments quickly.

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