Casino patrons will be able to sign up remotely for cashless gaming and payment accounts in Nevada if regulators have their way.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board Thursday recommended casinos be allowed to remotely sign up customers, rather than have them wait in line at resorts. It potentially sets the stage for a push to change regulations and allow remote sportsbook sign-ups in the future. Those Strip gaming companies wanting Nevada to allow igaming haven’t given up that fight either, but both of those regulatory changes would be contentious with properties catering to Las Vegas residents.
The new recommendation came during a 30-minute GCB workshop Thursday afternoon. The Nevada Gaming Commission will take up the matter in January at the earliest. It has final approval.
The recommendation does not cover remote signups for sports betting and horse racing accounts, which would continue to take place in person in casinos.
The change in signup practices was pushed by Sightline Payments, which in June launched the world’s first cashless payment system at Resorts World Las Vegas. The company said the launch was hindered by customers having to wait in line for several hours, rather than using cashless gaming and payments as soon as they walked into Resorts World.
Station Casinos, which had previously expressed concerns about violations of federal anti-money laundering laws, dropped its opposition to the remote cashless signup.
The Control Board said remote digital verification is fine as long as the customer has and uses valid government identification. Officials sought guidance from the U.S. Treasury Department.
“Sightline applauds today’s Nevada Gaming Control Board decision to recommend a regulatory change that would allow digital identity verification for on-premises casino wagering in line with current (U.S. Treasury Department FinCEN) guidance for remote identity verification at casinos,” said Omer Sattar, co-CEO of Sightline who testified at Thursday’s workshop. “Today’s recommendation is a further step toward modernizing Nevada’s cashless infrastructure and ensuring Nevada remains the gold standard for gaming innovation … and I look forward to discussing this change with the Nevada Gaming Commission in the new year.”
Patrons can pay for anything at Resorts World, including slot and table-game play, sports betting, restaurants, retail, and entertainment, without the need to access cash.
Sattar, who had pushed for a similar verification process that Nevada currently uses for online poker for about a decade, said not to expect this push for regulatory change to stop, but instead try and match what other states are now doing.
“It is one step in the right direction to modernizing Nevada gaming regulations to embrace technology,” said Brendan Bussmann, director of government affairs with Global Market Advisors. “But there are a lot of steps we need to take to move forward with sports and full igaming. Obviously, there’s disagreement in the gaming industry about that. There’s no reason why New Jersey has full igaming and is no different than Pennsylvania and no different than Michigan. If you look at those states, you are exposing yourself to a new customer and revenue dollar if you do it right. There’s very little, if any, cannibalization based on the current data.”
Station Casinos attorney Marc Rubinstein told the Control Board that they “still find it curious that this is needed for terrestrial gaming, in that it’s limited to the actual casino where you’re creating the account. By coupling the government-issued ID with the alternative verification, we’re comfortable there’s no longer an issue with the federal law.”
Board member Philip Katsaros said doing this for casinos makes sense when people walk into Starbucks today and already have a cashless payment account set up.
“It’s a convenience and part of our everyday life,” Katsaros said. “People want to sign up in advance and move on with their life. They don’t want to go to that queue. This encourages the use of technology and provides customer choice. It meshes with what we have in the online gaming space and have 10 years of experience, so it’s safe and secure. This in no way discourages visitation. You still have to go to the casino to gamble. And it in no way jeopardizes or sacrifices or shortcuts any of our regulatory oversight.”
Board Chairman Brin Gibson said petitioners would have to go through “a separate and distinct amendment process” if remote signups for sports betting were included.