Increased adoption of cashless technologies is a benefit to gaming compliance efforts

December 4, 2023 8:39 PM
Photo: CDC Gaming Reports
  • Ana Galeski, Executive Director of Compliance, Marker Trax
December 4, 2023 8:39 PM
  • Ana Galeski, Executive Director of Compliance, Marker Trax

Gaming has gone through an incredible evolution in just a few short years. The intersection of convenience and emerging technology that’s enhanced so much of our everyday lives is making inroads into the gaming industry – from how resort operators can more effectively market their products based on customers’ specific needs, to the sheer variety of entertainment options available to consumers – literally at their fingertips, in many cases. This technology revolution is even having a demonstrable, and positive, impact on one of the foundational elements of the entire industry: regulatory compliance.

I began my own career as a compliance engineer because I enjoyed being able to liaison between product testing teams and regulatory agencies. Bringing groundbreaking innovations together with the need to protect consumers and business leaders is like fitting together puzzle pieces: an often-painstaking process, but one that’s necessary in order to build a complete picture. But even I can recognize the intimidating connotations that come along with the word “compliance.” This is especially true – yet important to dispel – in an industry like gaming that is built on providing enjoyable experiences.

Because compliance isn’t about putting up barriers. It’s about making sure everyone is protected. In gaming, that means ensuring the player can trust that their games are running fairly, and that resort operators can be comfortable in knowing there are safeguards in place to ensure their properties can function smoothly and profitably, to everyone’s benefit. And it means that the public at large, regardless of whether or not they ever gamble, can be assured their interests are being protected, as well.

The need to protect everyone is especially important in gaming, an industry that by its nature deals with incredibly vast sums of money. With cash specifically added to the equation, there’s an inherent – and in many ways understandable – concern that with more opportunities for misuse comes more risk of misuse. Let me be clear: Gaming isn’t more fertile ground for financial abuse than any other industry. But simply by virtue of the amounts of money involved, it warrants more scrutiny, especially in light of the dramatic, and welcome, growth of cashless technologies.

This is more true due to both the sheer size of gaming, and its rapid growth over the decades. What once was the almost-exclusive purview of Nevada, with a few other casinos dotting the landscape around the rest of the country, has now grown to become an important economic component of nearly every corner of the United States. And it’s not controversial to say that in gaming’s early days, there were individuals and entities within the industry who weren’t honest operators. While that’s true, of course, with any industry, the focus shines that much more brightly on gaming.

And so we should in fact welcome the additional scrutiny placed by regulatory agencies on the gaming industry, as a key component to our continued growth – especially those of us at the forefront of cashless technology. In encouraging the continued expansion of cashless technology, regulatory agencies need to understand not just who is making business decisions within a company, and how that company’s technology operates, but who that company in turn does business with, and everything in between. Visionary companies like Marker Trax have allowed for enhancements to regulatory procedures that we should all support. The biggest risk in dealing with cash, after all, is the cash itself.

In casinos, the use of cash presents several potential security concern touchpoints. For the traditionally high-dollar casino credit player, casino cages are forced to have large amounts of cash on hand, and in a single place. And players themselves, after receiving the cash, add to that risk pool.

Though resorts operate in a high-security environment, even they can’t completely prevent every risk on their own property. And once the customer leaves the property, their sphere of influence is even smaller. When you take cash out of the equation, you’re dramatically decreasing that risk: Digital markers are tied to the individual player, and the individual property, and they are a part of a robust, real-time reporting dashboard that simply isn’t possible when dealing with physical cash.

Cashless technology also operates at the important intersection of compliance assurance as it relates to responsible gaming practices. Marker Trax specifically is built into a resort’s existing infrastructure, and is in constant digital communication with that infrastructure. A player who has chosen to self-exclude from a property, or who has been trespassed, for example, cannot bypass Marker Trax’ systems for resort spend. And when it comes to actual play, the player only has access to funds they’re approved to have in Marker Trax, as determined by the underwriting process.

It has always been the case that resort operators are defining the parameters around which credit is issued. With Marker Trax, there is now a more secure, robust mechanism for ensuring proper use of that credit.

In any gaming innovation – from something as simple as a new game, to all-new technology – there can be a sense that attaining a license is the final part of the equation. In truth, it’s just one part. Regulatory and licensing entities have a responsibility to protect the property, their operational jurisdiction, and the community as a whole. Companies like Marker Trax, and cashless technology, are helping to build a better gaming experience overall, and are also having a demonstrable, positive impact on making sure those gaming experiences stay secure, fair, and fun.