Las Vegas Casinos Rolling Out Cashless Gaming

Life as we know it is changing drastically due to the pandemic, and Nevada casinos are among the many businesses in the midst of a titanic shift.

Cashless gaming is set to become a reality in the state after the Nevada Gaming Commission approved several amendments last week.

Why is Cashless Gaming Now an Option?

Cashless gaming has been years in the works, but as we’ve reported previously, the pandemic and the public’s reluctance to use cash in daily life as a result of it has expedited the process.

The American Gaming Association recently released the results of an 18-month collaboration with other industry leaders that advocated for the adaptation of cashless gaming in the wake of COVID-19.  

Now, it’s game on. The Nevada Gaming Commission last Thursday unanimously approved a pair of regulations that will take effect immediately and open the door for widespread cashless gaming in the state.

The commission voted to allow “electronic money transfers to a game, or gaming device.” Any technology must be tested and approved by the Nevada Gaming Control Board before it’s implemented.

That doesn’t figure to be much of an impediment. There are numerous companies with operating systems in place currently.

The Associated Press reports that “a number of small casinos” allow digital payments such as Apple Pay, Google Pay and PayPal, but most casinos don’t have the technological capability, and in other states regulations forbid it.  

Cashless gaming will mainly serve to help struggling Las Vegas casinos ease customer concerns about spreading the virus through handling cash. Casinos reopened June 4 after months of pandemic-related closures.

“It’s a monumental first step in cashless wagering systems,” Nevada Gaming Control Board Commissioner Steve Cohen said.

Another change the commission approved is a daily monetary transfer limit and responsible gaming messages “conspicuously displayed” on devices, that includes the website of the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling. 

How Cashless Gaming Works

Vegas banned using credit cards on slot machines years ago, and the transfer of money directly from a bank account into a gaming device is still illegal.

But neither of those factors are an obstacle to cashless gaming given the rise of Bluetooth “tap-and-go” technology. 

Players at Station Casino have been using touchless technology since 2017. Customers can access their Players’ Club card through their phones via London-based International Game Technology’s Cardless Connect app (IGT also offers a “Resort Wallet,” in Swedish casinos).

In theory, cashless gaming works like this: a player deposits money into a gaming account through an app or via Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, etc. 

The customer then taps their phone on a kiosk to purchase a ticket – via their debit card – valued at the amount of their choice, which can be used on slot machines and tables. 

Upon completion of a session, the ticket is inserted into the kiosk and the balance of the e-wallet is updated.

The best example of this is Everi Holdings’ CashClub Wallet. The CashClub Wallet, which was introduced in 2017 at WinStar World Resort Casino, has been tried in field tests, according to the Las Vegas Journal-Review. 

How Will Cashless Gaming Affect Sports Betting in Nevada?

The move toward cashless gaming will have huge implications for online sports betting, none more so than in Nevada. 

The ability to place a bet from your couch is available in 11 states, including Nevada. In New Jersey, more than 85% of bets were placed online as of March 2020. 

But in Nevada you can’t deposit money into your online account unless you’re physically at the designated sportsbook.

Casinos want you to visit their physical location so that you spend more than what you have budgeted for sports betting. 

Casinos are also trying to guard against fraud by verifying your identity in person. The result of this restriction manifested itself in the beginning stages of the pandemic. William Hill Sportsbook normally offers the ability to deposit via kiosks around Vegas.

However, when the shutdown happened it was forced to offer drive-thru deposit stations to help customers fund their accounts, most notably ahead of UFC 249 in early May. 

Now, with the red tape out of the way, cashless gaming is set to make the process as seamless as possible.

About the Author

Carl Carchia

Carl Carchia has spent more than 13 years in sports journalism working for NBC, ESPN and CBS among others. He loves the Cowboys, Mets and disappointment, naturally. He likes to golf and play video games. Carl was very excited the day PASPA was struck down and is annoyed Connecticut doesn't have regulation in place yet.