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.
Two other amendments
In addition to the Nevada Gaming Commission’s approval of regulatory amendments on cashless gaming, the board approved two other amendments Thursday.
An amendment submitted for consideration by UNLV’s Boyd Law School in March gives additional time for field trials on new cashless gaming systems brought for consideration.
The amendment, designed to give system designers additional time for consumer feedback, allows for trials to expand to up to 270 days from the current 90-day time frame. It’s effective immediately.
Commissioners also unanimously approved a regulatory amendment increasing application and investigation fees for licensing.
The nonrefundable fees to license restricted licensees and slot route operators, companies that service slot machines at several restricted locations, such as bars, restaurants, supermarkets and convenience stores, will increase from $150 to $500. Fees for other applications for suitability investigations will go from $500 to $1,000.
Both fee amounts have been in place since June 1985, and the new levels take effect Aug. 1.