Are Cashless Payments The Future Of Casino Gaming In The U.S.?

Sightline Payments is among the companies pushing digital options

Andrew Crowe, senior vice president of investor relations and growth initiatives at Sightline Payments, was in Las Vegas a couple weeks ago for a panel discussion about the future of monetary transactions in the gaming space. As Crowe traveled for the conference, he began to think about all the times he uses a phone to perform important tasks during the day. 

Crowe’s plane ticket was on his mobile device. He summoned an Uber using his phone. He checked into his hotel using a mobile room key. Crowe even used his phone to pay for a cup of coffee at Starbucks. 

But when on casino gaming floors, Crowe and others are often required to use cash. It’s a disconnect with consumer behavior that Crowe expects to change, and Sightline is among the companies working to make cashless casino experiences more common across the country. 

“We’re trying to let customers do on the gaming floor what they do throughout the rest of their lives,” Crowe said. 

Push for cashless payments 

Using cash is fairly easy, but in a digital age, it makes sense that customers would want to have electronic payment options. The challenge for companies like Sightline is creating a user experience that matches cash in its ease of use. 

“If I’m thinking about cashless on the gaming floor, they already can play with cash … they’ve already got a way that does work, and we need to make sure we’re delivering a better way for it to work,” Crowe said. 

Crowe and company have worked to reduce the time needed to sign up for digital options, trying to create a system that allows users to set up such payments in under five minutes.

Sightline announced in early October plans to implement cashless gaming options at slot machines in the U.S. through Project 250. The goal of that initiative, which the company is working on with Acres Manufacturing Company, is to facilitate digital payment technology at 250,000 slot machines across the U.S. in the next three years. 

“We’re gonna put our money where our mouth is,” Crowe said. 

Sightline plans to invest up to $300 million in Project 250 over the coming years, believing strongly that cashless payments on the gaming floor are the future of the industry. Crowe also stressed that such payments make for a seamless transition to sports betting

“I can cash out at a table game, push money out to mobile sports, and place a bet on the football game that I’m watching,” Crowe explained.

Fraud in the space

Lindsay Slader, managing director at GeoComply, spoke with US Bets about how her company can help operators and others in the gaming space with regulatory needs and fraud prevention. GeoComply has access to data that helps it detect fraud, which can be a plus for legal casinos looking to implement cashless payment options. 

“When you have someone walk up to a machine with their phone to tap a payment, if it’s already known that the device has played a part in a fraud ring in a regulated gaming market in America, they’re never going to have the opportunity to have that transaction processed in the first place,” Slader said. 

Slader says there’s the constant challenge of “the innovation of the fraudster” as those looking to commit fraud become more advanced. Fortunately, GeoComply and other companies continue to evolve as fraud evolves. 

“While there are plenty of challenges that fraudsters will continue to push the envelope and invest more and more time, as online betting becomes an opportunity in more places, luckily the regulated nature of online gaming in America means you do have a really powerful set of data to help fight fraud,” Slader said. 

There’s even a positive responsible gambling outlook associated with digital payments.  

“When you digitize payments, there is actually a record of what people are doing,” Crowe said. “It’s not anonymous cash.”

By tracking payments, it’s easier to tell if a customer may have a gambling problem. Some digital payment methods also let users set limits on what they want to spend gambling each day. 

There’s reason to be bullish on the future of cashless payments, although only time will tell if companies can create convenient enough solutions that move significant portions of casino customers from cash to digital options. 

“Certainly, I don’t think cash is going to go away, but I do think there’s a natural layer to this where we’re trying to bring the already preferred behavior onto the gaming floor as well,” Crowe said.

Photo: Shutterstock


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