US casinos push for cashless gambling payments, citing virus

“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.”

Health officials say the coronavirus can survive on paper currency, but that risk is low compared to person-to-person spread, which is the main way people get infected. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says using touchless payment methods is a good idea where possible.

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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Follow Wayne Parry at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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