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Cashless gaming on its way to Las Vegas casinos

Updated June 25, 2020 - 4:13 pm

The Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday approved eight amendments to existing regulations on cashless gaming systems that supporters say are the first step toward revolutionizing financial transactions in casinos.

The amendments are effective immediately and could result in a flurry of new systems from various manufacturers that will make it easier for casino customers to move funds from their bank accounts by debit card or through prepaid debit cards to slot machines and table games.

Commissioners said when approving the amendments that they hoped they would be the first step toward transforming the use of currency in casinos to electronic payment transfer systems.

Cashless gaming solutions have been on the commission’s radar for months, and a speedier approval was spurred by the COVID-19 outbreak, as companies look to replace germy cash with clean technology.

Several companies are lining up with cashless systems, including Everi Holdings, Scientific Games, IGT and NRT Technology Corp., which was approved for licensing by commissioners earlier in the meeting.

The amendments remove an interim step required in existing cashless system regulations. Previous regulations required funds to be transferred digitally to a device in a casino that would print out a dollar amount that could be used in slot machines. That step has been removed, and systems now will be able to move funds from a digital wallet that could be accessed via a smartphone or tablet directly to slots or tables. Customers would be able to move winnings from a machine or table to the digital wallet for transfer to a bank account.

While there was light opposition from responsible-gaming advocates concerned that such accessibility would be too easy for compulsive gamblers, commissioners agreed to go ahead with approval, adding that they expect new revisions to come that would address matters such as self-exclusion and placing self-imposed limits on the number, frequency and amounts of transactions.

“I don’t think you really give anything up by approving the first step,” acting commission Chairman John Moran said just before the vote.

Other commissioners, board Chairwoman Sandra Morgan, board member Phil Katsaros and Control Board Chief of Technology Jim Barbee weighed in that systems already in place enable easier tracing of financial transactions through cashless systems. Also, board members and commissioners said they would continue to have oversight on cashless systems because each company’s proposed devices would have to be scrutinized individually for each licensing.

Before the meeting, there were calls for individual customers to be required to register to use a cashless system, just like accounts set up for sportsbook apps. But commissioners didn’t require that, noting that enough financial information can be captured whenever money is transferred that would create a paper trail that investigators could follow.

Efforts to require systems to include responsible-gambling self-exclusion measures also weren’t required, but commissioners noted that many of the systems under consideration would have that capability.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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