As casinos reopen across the country, the Covid-19 pandemic has required operators and suppliers to reimagine all aspects of our business to promote public health and build guest and employee confidence ahead of their return.
These safety protections will likely look different in Oklahoma than in Las Vegas, and Lake Charles will look different from Southern California. Guests might experience mandatory mask-wearing, infrared heat scanners to monitor temperatures, and partitions to promote social distancing. New approaches that promote health and safety should also extend to how guests pay on the casino floor.
Unlike much of the resort experience, where contactless technologies can be introduced seamlessly, customers are limited to cash on the casino floor, at a time when choice is increasingly expected. According to research by the American Gaming Association from May, almost 60 percent of past-year casino-goers are less likely to use cash in their everyday lives because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This translates to customer preferences on the casino floor. Fifty-four percent of customers indicate that they would be very likely to utilize a digital or contactless payment option when they gamble. The majority (57 percent) also say having the option to use a digital or contactless payment option on the casino floor is important to them.
Casinos remain one of the most cash-intensive businesses in the world, so the modernization of payments for casino gambling is one of the AGA’s top priorities. Not only does modernization bolster regulatory efforts and responsible gaming measures, it also gives customers the choice they expect in their daily lives—choice that is especially important in today’s environment.
Over the last 18 months, the AGA has engaged in a collaborative process to understand the current state of payments and formulate a framework for introducing payment options on the casino floor. Our payments- modernization working group—made up of commercial and tribal operators and suppliers—has heard directly from customers, worked with regulators and policymakers, held open dialogues with responsible gaming and problem gambling advocates, and brought card networks and payment processors to the table.
The culmination of this process is the AGA’s Principles for Casino Gaming Payment Modernization, released in June. It outlines seven key mandates:
- Equip customers with more tools to wager responsibly
- Ensure state laws enable a flexible regulatory approach, capable of keeping pace with evolving forms of digital payments
- Give customers payment choice and convenience
- Address heightened customer public health concerns
- Provide customers confidence in digital payment security
- Create a uniform regulatory environment for casino operators, suppliers and regulators
- Empower law enforcement to better identify offenders through digital payment analysis
Every gaming jurisdiction will implement payment modernization differently. It could range from card services—already available in some states—to smartphone apps that can be used to purchase gaming chips or credits. Payment choice doesn’t mean the elimination of cash, as many patrons enjoy that as part of their gambling experience.
Giving our guests choice in how they pay won’t just enhance their experience. With today’s technology, we can empower consumers with the tools they need to set budgets, time limits and other safeguards that promote responsible gaming. The AGA and our members are committed to working with all stakeholders to roll out payment modernization in a thoughtful way that puts responsibility at the forefront.
Digital payments also create a record that can track money movements far more accurately and quickly than cash, providing law enforcement and regulators new tools to identify illegal activity like fraud. And, working with regulators, digital transactions can enhance the robust anti-money laundering and Know Your Customer activities already under way at every casino in America.
By working in close coordination with gaming regulators, the financial services industry, responsible gaming stakeholders and the industry, the AGA seeks to pave the way for innovation that can bring casino payment options into the 21st century.
Read the AGA’s Principles for Casino Gaming Payment Modernization on AmericanGaming.org.