July 6, 2021 Casino, Technology

The Cashless Gaming Revolution


Joe Pappano, CEO of digital payments provider Sightline Payments, explains how Covid-19 is transforming the casino and gaming industry.

For decades, the gaming industry has operated around the clock with cash as its central vehicle. Today, gaming operators are still open 24/7, but a once-in-a-century phenomenon, Covid-19, is changing the cash component forever.

Everyone was caught off guard by shutdowns caused by the pandemic, but perhaps none was as surprised as the casino sector, used to burning the midnight oil for consumers.

Clearly, the need to reopen was urgent, but safety had to be the first priority. Unprecedented times called for groundbreaking safety measures: digital payments’ long-overdue arrival in the gaming industry.

The Nevada Gaming Commission’s June 2020 decision expedited casinos’ adoption of cashless payments, in line with every other consumer-focused sector of the US economy. The only downside was casinos and other gaming operators were so cash-dependent that solutions seemed further away and too complex to fully integrate fast enough. Enter Resorts World Las Vegas. In the past year, mobile wallets overtook cash, as more consumers became less comfortable with hard currency. In Q1 2020, MasterCard reported a 40% increase in contactless transactions year-over-year. Half of US smartphone users are now expected to use contactless payment options by 2025. Plus, 82% of consumers say they now view contactless options as a cleaner way to pay. According to the American Gaming Association (AGA), nearly 60% of casino visitors are less likely to use cash in their everyday lives due to the pandemic, and more than half of gamblers say they’d likely utilize a contactless payment option when they gamble. Thankfully, Covid-19 was not the only phenomenon that took place last year. Innovation is a force in its own right, and the pandemic spurred one of the greatest revolutions in the gaming industry in decades.

Consumers’ priorities shifted, and so did those of the Strip’s first new casino in 10 years. Now, roughly a year after Nevada casinos reopened, patrons will have access to the first-ever casino property with a full cashless infrastructure.

Thanks to a partnership between Sightline, NRT Technology and Konami, Resorts World Las Vegas will be the first casino in the world with a fully integrated cashless infrastructure. Patrons will be able to conveniently pay for gaming, entertainment and other onsite offerings from their phones. While the pandemic may have accelerated payments modernization in the gaming industry, make no mistake, the benefits of digital payments integration go far beyond just cleanliness and convenience.

With Resorts World as a model, consumers will now be able to fund gaming from a variety of sources, thereby taking advantage of technology that allows them to set budgets and limits for their integrated casino experience. Payments modernization will also give law enforcement new insight into how money is spent, possible anomalies and advanced tracking capabilities that they simply do not have with cash.

Cash will always have its place, but consumers can now experience the convenience of multiple payment options and cutting-edge technologies at their fingertips, while businesses expand and regulation becomes more seamless and effective.

This summer, keep an eye on the Las Vegas Strip. What started as a frantic search for solutions during a pandemic has now led to what could be one of the largest transformations of the gaming industry in history. Digital payments are here to stay.

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