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Annually, the gaming industry comes together to show off and see the latest and greatest gaming technology at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E). One advancement that drew significant attention were solutions for cashless gaming transactions either at the table or slot game which would enable players to buy chips, or slot credit with a debit card instead of having to find an ATM.
Among the top reasons players desire this type of solution is convenience. The ability to re-load at the table or slot machine instead of searching for an ATM is appealing. The house meanwhile enjoys the fact players are able to access cash quickly, keeping them in the game.
Also, from the perspective of the house, electronic payment reduces the amount of cash handled by employees allowing casinos to re-purpose or reduce their labor force. An electronic record of transactions which can aid in detecting fraud and money laundering is also kept whereas cash is anonymous.
Critics are also vocal about responsible gaming concerns. Easy access to cash can spell trouble for problem gamblers and that walk of shame to the ATM often acts as a sobering “cooling off period” to re-think the decision. Cashless solution providers counter this argument, however, by pointing out that players have the ability to set limits within their system’s framework. Ultimately, the industry needs to trust players to self regulate while providing resources to help. Cashless solutions do just that.
Recently, ACS, a gaming payment solution provider, installed their PlayOn “tabletop ATM” device at Palms and Red Rock, allowing players to purchase chips via a debit transaction that typically boasts lower fees than an ATM. Interestingly, the transaction is ran as a purchase transaction as opposed to an ATM withdrawal enabling the player to buy chips in the same manner you would buy a gallon of milk at the grocery store.
Procedurally, the dealer hands the wireless PlayOn device to the player that wants to buy chips. The player enters their debit card and the amount desired, accepts any applicable fees, and a voucher is printed and exchanged for chips by the dealer. Easy.
PlayOn also offers a similar cashless system that integrates into slot games allowing debit transactions right at the machine instead of forcing players to hunt for an ATM.
Another solution that attracted considerable attention at G2E was GlobalPayments’ VIP Mobility. Instead of a card reader at the table, VIP mobility utilizes a phone app that players load money onto virtually from any of a number of sources. They then buy chips or slot credit with the cash stored in the VIP Mobility phone app by scanning a QR code located on the table/slot with their phone and choosing the amount of chips/slot credit they wish to buy. When the session is complete, players “cash out” chips and slot back to the app.
In addition to the two vendors mentioned, numerous others were on site at the gaming expo demonstrating their cashless gaming systems, most using card readers or smartphone apps to transfer funds.
The prevalence of cashless gaming solution providers at the Global Gaming Expo, and the undeniable business benefits demonstrate that cashless gaming will be coming to a casino near you, and likely sooner than later. After all, casinos are among the last standing cash only businesses along with coin operated car washes, laundromats, and garage sales. Not for long, however.