U.S. casinos are moving toward cashless gambling to protect customers and staff from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The American Gaming Association (AGA), the Washington, D.C.-based trade group for the $261 billion sector, has issued “Payments Modernization Policy Principles” that they say will guide the industry into ePayments.
The three-page set of recommendations was the result of a collaborative industry effort to establish a framework for digital payments on the casino floor, the AGA said.
“Advancing opportunities for digital payments has been one of our top priorities since my first day at the AGA,” said William Miller, AGA’s president and CEO, in a statement. “The COVID-19 pandemic made it all the more important to advance our efforts to provide customers with the payment choice they are more comfortable with and have increasingly come to expect in their daily lives.”
The guidelines come as the AGA reports 621 casinos have opened in 29 states since June 12 while, others are making plans to do so.
AGA officials said a survey of casino visitors revealed 57 percent expressed a desire for digital or contactless payments on the casino floor as a way to be safe from the coronavirus. Another 59 percent said they are less likely to use cash because of the pandemic, while 54 percent told researchers they would be very likely to use a payment option when they gamble.
The group devised seven principles to educate regulators who are considering expanding payment choices, including: Equip customers with more tools to wager responsibly; Give customers payment choice and convenience; Ensure state laws enable a flexible regulatory approach, capable of keeping pace with evolving forms of digital payments; Address heightened customer public health concerns; Provide customers confidence in digital payment security; Create a uniform regulatory environment for casino operators, suppliers, and regulators; and empower law enforcement to better identify offenders through digital payment analysis.
“This not only improves responsible gaming efforts by equipping customers with digital tools to help them monitor their gaming and set limits, but also provides operators, regulators, and law enforcement increased transparency into matters of anti-money laundering and monitoring of financial transactions,” the AGA said.
Associated Press reported only a small number of casinos use such payments including Apple Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal.
Health officials say while the virus can survive on paper currency, the risk is low compared to person-to-person spread, AP reported. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said using touchless payments is a good idea where possible.
The Nevada Gaming Commission will hold a hearing next week on the recommendations.