In an effort to help smash the curve, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended “tap-and-pay to limit handling of cash” wherever possible. But due to regulations across all 50 states in the United States, that’s just not possible in live poker rooms and on the casino floor.
But that could soon change. Gaming regulators and state legislatures are taking a closer look at permitting mobile payments and digital wallets to help curb the spread of the virus.
First up, Nevada. On June 25th, gaming regulators in the Silver State will hold a hearing on cashless payments. The American Gaming Association (AGA) is all in.
“Casinos are really looking for some modernization in the industry that for too long has been almost entirely reliant on cash,” said AGA’s CEO Bill Miller, who has been encouraging tribal leaders, legislators and industry regulators to take a close look at flexible rules that allow for cash alternatives.
Jay Snowden, CEO of Penn National Gaming, tends to agree, noting, “We’re still an industry, probably the last out there, that transacts only in cash. We’re working with our regulators right now to see if we can really accelerate this digitalization [of] payments on our properties.”
With social distancing practices on the casino floor in place, casino patrons are more conscious of handling cash. In a recent survey, 59% of people who visited a casino within the past year admitted they’re less likely to use cash in their everyday lives because of the global pandemic.
“Any customers uneasy about using cash on the gaming floor due to health or safety concerns should have an alternate payment option available to them,” said the AGA.
Cashless payment systems aren’t uncommon in the gaming industry. Online poker rooms, including those regulated and licensed at the state level, employ cashless payment systems. Many argue that these systems are better than cash systems because users can set limits, something that’s helpful to combat problem gambling.