Could the coronavirus be one more step in moving casinos to cashless transactions? According to many experts, the answer is yes.
Paper currency could harbor the germs that transmit the virus, some say, even though the odds of catching the virus from a dollar bill are unknown,
According to one researcher, COVID-19 spreads mainly through droplets released into the air when someone who’s been infected coughs or sneezes.
But it also can be contracted through the surfaces we come into contact with.
The virus can stay a day or two on paper, he says, and up to three or four days on plastic or metal.
So, does this signal that casinos might make the same move many retail outlets have chosen?
Scientific Games’ Unified Wallet already is in use at several tribal casinos in Florida.
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“(O)perators are spending a staggering amount of money to keep casinos sanitized by deploying employees to wipe down slot machines, elevator buttons, everything you can imagine, to make surfaces as sterile and safe as possible,” says Matt Wilson, CEO of Scientific Games’ gaming division.
“But when you think about the (fact that the) financial instrument we use to transact on the gaming floors is cash ... how many hands have been on a dollar bill? It’s the surface that gets touched the most, and it seems the way for us to circumvent that potential health hazard and do it in a way that consumers in the world already are transacting in probably every other industry in their lives.”
Unified Wallet enables a player to store money from a bank account in digital form in a smartphone and move it to a slot machine or table game through a Bluetooth connection. When play is completed, digital winnings go back to the wallet and can be transferred to the player’s bank account.
The system also can let players preset limits on transactions, a feature appreciated by responsible gaming advocates.
Competitor Everi Holdings’ CashClub Wallet integrates with a kiosk to produce tickets that can be used in slot machines or at table games. The kiosk interacts with a smartphone that can access money from bank accounts. When play is completed, a ticket is converted digitally back to the bank account.
The electronic wallet can be loaded from anywhere — from home, inside a casino or inside a restaurant.
“You could download the app, load the app from any of your accounts, make a ticket purchase for, say $10, then walk up to a kiosk and attach it to a small square on the kiosk on the side and it would immediately issue a $10 voucher or ticket,” Everi CEO Michael Rumbolz says. “You can then take that to a machine, put it in, play the machine and when the ticket comes back out, take it back to the kiosk, and you could either put it back in your wallet or take cash for it.”
Sam Zietz, CEO of Grubbrr, a company that develops touchless payment options, says the world is ready for cashless transactions.
“My personal feeling is we will be a cashless society in our lifetime,” Zietz adds.
Recreational gambler Darryl D. McEwen, a former professional journalist, is president of his own consulting firm that manages several small national and international trade associations, and provides public relations and fundraising services for a number of charitable organizations. Have a comment on this or a question specifically related to an Atlantic City casino, players club or other promotion? Email Darryl at MrACCasino@gmail.com and he’ll try to respond to you personally. Your question — without your name — may appear in a future column. Visit his website, MrACCasino.com, and follow him on Twitter @MrACCasino.