Most of us have become accustomed to swiping a credit card or tapping our phone to make a purchase – whether it’s at the grocery store or the gas station. In fact, roughly three-in-ten U.S. adults (29%) say they don’t use cash to make purchases during a typical week and some businesses are beginning to experiment with becoming totally cashless. The reasons to go cashless are varied, from speeding up lines to reducing the risk of robbery. The COVID-19 pandemic has also accelerated the transition for many businesses as they look to reduce hand-to-hand contact and manage coin shortages. So it should come as no surprise that casinos are eyeing cashless as an alternative to cashiers and ATMs. 

Why go cashless?

Until recently, casinos have been one of the last holdouts of the cash transaction. And while the idea of a cashless casino isn’t new, only in the last five years has the technology advanced enough that a wide range of vendors have marketed cashless tools such as digital wallets to make the change more widespread. As of 2021, eight states – Nevada, California, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio and Florida – have adopted cashless and digital payment options for commercial and tribal casinos. And many industry leaders predict that number will continue to climb. In fact, we’ve been busy innovating solutions that will enable a more intuitive adoption of cashless gaming technology will help set the stage for the option of a completely cashless casino gaming floor within a few years. Our new application, Cashless Casino, enables casino operators to deploy the industry’s best-of-breed cashless gaming and loyalty solution within 15 weeks of order. 

Many casinos are embracing cashless because it offers multiple benefits to operators and players alike, especially as health concerns around COVID-19 linger. A few of those benefits include:

  • Empowering players. With cashless technology such as Cashless Casino, players are empowered to intuitively fund slots and tables using their mobile devices, driving a superior player experience.
  • Driving loyalty and increasing revenue. By sending real-time messages, game add-ons and bonuses, and facilitating cashless transfers, casinos can encourage longer game play and keep players coming back.
  • Optimizing the player experience. Properties can control slot data and credit meters in real-time to ensure the best player experience.
  • Improving operational efficiencies. Cashless gaming helps casinos reduce time spent on machine maintenance and eliminates the cash handling errors that can occur when handling large volumes of cash and coins.
  • Prioritizing safety and convenience. In the tactile world of casino gaming, cashless allows for a safer, cleaner, and more convenient environment where fewer people are handling cash and players can access their money from anywhere at any time. Additionally, with both casinos and players managing and holding less cash, the risk of robbery plummets. 

How does it work?

Depending on the game, the technology, and the operator, casinos have a few options for going cashless and can embrace one – or a combination of several – solutions that fit their business model best. For example, land-based casinos can look to e-wallets as a way to implement a cashless alternative for players. Players simply sign up for the app and can add funds to their e-wallet as needed to gamble or even book a hotel room or pay for dinner. The Acres Wallet, for example, incorporates gaming-specific elements such as Cash, Free Play, Points, Drawing Entries, and more. This option provides casinos with the opportunity to brand their own e-wallet and include any benefits, perks, and features they think will appeal to their customers. Additionally, Cashless Casino is the industry’s only solution capable of processing both real-time gaming data and conducting cashless transfers to and from any slot machine or table game.

Some casinos are experimenting with electronic systems available right at the table, for players who may not be ready for an e-wallet app. How does this work? Each table features a scanner that players can use to deposit money to play a game. Let’s say a player wants to buy into a mini baccarat game for $200. They would simply scan the relevant app at the table, select a $200 deposit, and start playing. After they’re done playing, they can collect any leftover money or winnings through the app. 

Are there any downsides to cashless?

As more casinos adopt cashless solutions, some operators may be wondering if there are any potential pitfalls to ruling out cash. For players, there could be a few, most notably as it relates to their credit card vendor. Money spent on gambling could be subject to much stricter control with an e-wallet, credit card, bank, or other payment processor exercising great control over how you spend money. Let’s say PayPal notices you’re spending a lot of money at the casino, they could suspect  fraud or determine you’re gambling too much, and momentarily freeze your account. The UK is already discussing a social credit system that would downgrade people for buying too much junk food (and incentivize healthier habits) so it’s not a big stretch to imagine the same could happen for gambling. 

Just like anything new, there is also a learning curve for implementing cashless solutions. While operators will likely be able to bridge that gap easily, players may initially struggle to adjust to new – and seemingly more complicated – technology. But with more people using cashless payments in their day-to-day life, it shouldn’t be too big of a curve for most.

The Future is Now

Cashless is already here, and we know that it will only be a matter of time before more and more casinos embrace this technology. It’s time for the gaming industry to catch up and leverage the power of innovative technologies. From maximizing the player experience to increasing operational efficiencies, to boosting revenue, cashless is win-win for players and casinos alike.

Curious to learn more about Acres’ cashless solution? Schedule your demo today.