These days, we take cashless retail businesses for granted. We all expect to walk into a grocery store or clothing retailer and pay with our phone or a card. But the cashless casino is an area that’s just now starting to grow. And far more so than at a grocery or clothing store, the ability to perform cashless payments can save a person’s life.
At the 2022 Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas earlier this month, I sat down with Christopher Justice, President of Global Payments Inc. and a member of the Board of Directors at the American Gaming Association. He walked me through some of the ways a cashless casino benefits players beyond convenience, from responsible gaming initiatives to preventing deadly robberies.
Obvious Benefits of a Cashless Casino
On its face, the benefits of a cashless casino are obvious. Players can simply load a prepaid card rather than get cash out, and they can transfer funds directly to their bank account. They also don’t have to wait in line to cash in their chips, which can save as much as 30 minutes of time or more.
On the casino side, the benefits are also quite obvious when you look at the numbers. As Christopher Justice pointed out, retail establishments that take cashless payments get 1.6x more visits than cash-only establishments. Further, he added, “We haven’t seen anyone go from mobile payments back to cash transactions.”
With that in mind, the risk of switching to cashless is relatively minimal.
Responsible Gaming Made Better By Cashless Payments
Christopher Justice pointed out how a player entering a casino with cash in hand isn’t beholden to any self-exclusion protections. Even if they’ve self-excluded, they can still go to the ATM, take out as much as they want, and hit the tables and slots. But if a casino has cashless payments, suddenly they have tangible self-exclusion protections in place.
“With cashless payments, casinos can implement a more individual approach versus blank rules,” said Christopher Justice. “With mobile payments, casinos can also personalize the control specific to the player.”
Further, casinos could implement more specific financial controls by verifying things like income to help protect potentially vulnerable players.
No Cash Means Less Crime
It seems like a month doesn’t go by without a news story about someone leaving the casino with casino winnings, only to get robbed in the parking lot or, worse, followed home.
Last year, pharmaceutical executive Sree Aravapalli was followed home after a night at the casino in Pennsylvania, where he was robbed and ultimately murdered. This tragic event may not have been prevented by a cashless casino. But, intuitively, a player who doesn’t have cash winnings on them has a far greater likelihood of avoiding this type of incident.
Even players adverse to the idea of going cashless at a casino have to admit the safety benefit. No one feels completely safe leaving with tons of winnings, especially if it’s late at night and the bank is closed. That cash and the person holding it are vulnerable in the meantime, and criminals know that.
Why Are Some Opposed to Cashless Casinos?
Almost universally, casino players prefer the feel of the chips and cash in hand over electronic payments. That adrenaline rush of turning some cash into more cash is just never going to be replaced by a ping on your phone. But losing that extra bit of thrill is a small price to pay compared to the immense cost of something bad happening. And that’s not to mention the many benefits of keeping all your casino money in one place.
The pure convenience of buying dinner and drinks, shopping at the casino’s retail shops, playing games, and sending money straight to a bank account could also substantially outweigh the preferred feel of money in your pocket.
How Close Are We to a Cashless Casino Landscape?
Folks like Christopher Justice are on the cutting edge of cashless payments in casinos and beyond. For now, though, very few Las Vegas casinos offer the option, with Resorts World being among the first on the Strip to introduce it.
Thankfully, Las Vegas is the relative outlier, falling behind other gambling hotspots on this front. Many casinos in Pennsylvania, for example, like Hollywood Casinos, have been offering the option to great success. Upstate New York casinos like Rivers Schenectady and Resorts World Catskills have also followed suit as early adopters.
Most commonly, cashless casino play is limited to slots. But it’s not hard to imagine a near future where all casino transactions, from table games to dining and shopping, can all be done on one unified mobile app or card.