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The Evolution of Cashless Systems in the Casino Gaming Industry

The last few years have seen the near-eradication of cash in many consumer outlets. We’re sure you’ve noticed when going out to do your shopping. For example, it’s not uncommon to see supermarkets limit most self-checkouts to debit/credit card only, leaving one or two token cash outlets remaining. Even smaller shops will often only take card payments, citing cost-cutting and convenience.

The cashless rollout is also increasingly visible in the casino gaming industry. In the United States, for example, we’ve already seen many commercial and tribal casinos going cashless. And in other countries, regulatory pressure and consumer demand have further pushed the fast-forward button on cashless systems.

Cashless = Convenience

So, this accelerating trend towards the extinction of cash begs the question: why exactly is this happening? Well, in the first instance, a lot can be explained through consumer trends alone.

This is the basic fact: people just don’t want to use cash in 2024. There are several reasons why:

Cash is more of a risk; if you lose it, it’s gone. It’s also far less convenient, in a bunch of ways. First, it’s having to go to the cash machine/ATM just to get what you need, against having everything go electronically on the same card. Second, who likes carrying heavy notes and change? It just weighs you down.

We’re now so used to those fast taps, the contactless payments without even having to enter a PIN code. Or paying through the convenience of something like Apple Pay, using our smartphones as true all-in-one devices. You can pay between watching Instagram Stories, not a hitch in your way.

Casinos know this (especially online casinos). People will spend far more money if credit and debit cards are easy-to-use payment systems. You just whip out your wallet or phone, and you can start playing your favorite slot or even roulette.

But it’s also better for the casino, in that it lowers overall costs. No more investment into a bunch of machines that will give people their change or cash. Fewer staff members are also needed in a cashless setting. And it’s always irritating for establishments to ensure they have enough change available.

New South Wales (NSW) Pushing for Gambling Reform

In addition to convenience, cashless is also part of a wider regulatory push for payment visibility, fighting against money laundering, and improving KYC (know-your-customer) compliance across the board.

Let’s take NSW as an example. Through the advice of an independent panel, which was established in July 2023, the state government is running trials of cashless systems to counter potential criminal activity and safeguard consumer data.

In neighboring New Zealand, expect to go the same way with land-based casinos, it’s the trending move. Those who want to play online pokies in NZ can already use the latest cashless methods. This isn’t just limited to debit and credit cards, but also includes e-wallets and even cryptocurrencies. And this trend is being more and more incorporated into traditional casino systems as well.

Still Working Out the Kinks

Cashless is generally a positive move, combining convenience and consumer safety, but it doesn’t mean we’re quite near a perfect system just yet. The aforementioned NSW trials are still running, and we’re seeing positive changes, but the first one wasn’t quite something to write home about.

It was canceled early due to a cyberattack, which compromised user data. While nothing was stolen and no personal information was ever in danger, the trial was cut short as a preventative measure.

Unfortunately, major hacks are very common, no matter the industry. Big ticket corporations like Equifax, Yahoo, Capital One, and Sony’s PlayStation Network have all been victims, so this isn’t something unique to the gambling industry.

Because this move towards going completely cashless is still in its infancy, expect some growing pains as casinos improve their security and install the correct hardware/software combinations.

Cash is (un)Kinged?

While cash still has some while to go before it goes completely extinct – and trust us, cash will one day only be visible in museums – that doesn’t mean it hasn’t already lost its crown.

Just look at the stats: cash payments account for just 6% of total transactions in the UK. Even with the cost of living crisis in mind, expect cashless to continue trending downwards over the long haul.

In the gambling industry, cash will also eventually go the way of the Dodo. Casinos never stand still. They’re always innovating, keeping up with technological advancements, ensuring they adhere to regulations one step ahead, and always putting consumer convenience at the forefront (resulting in higher revenue figures, of course).