U.S. Gaming Industry Embracing Digital Payments With Cash On Decline

August 25, 2022
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Walk onto any casino floor in the U.S. and you will still find most gamblers using cash to play a slot machine or place a sports bet, but a recent study on payment trends found the use of cash to pay for goods and services will continue to decline over the next three years.

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Walk onto any casino floor in the U.S. and you will still find most gamblers using cash to play a slot machine or place a sports bet, but a recent study on payment trends found the use of cash to pay for goods and services will continue to decline over the next three years.

Cash in the U.S. accounted for 11.4 percent of point-of-sale (POS) transactions in 2021, down slightly from 11.9 percent in 2020. The long-term decline of cash is projected to accelerate, declining by nearly half in 2025 to 5.8 percent, according to the FIS Global Payments Report 2022.

The report found that 40 percent of POS payments in North America last year were made by credit card, which is expected to decline to 36 percent in 2025, while digital or mobile wallet payments are predicted to be 15 percent of all transactions in three years, up from 10 percent.

“Our phones are the center of our lives, so it is not surprising to see the use of digital wallets expanding as a payment method,” said Jonathan Michaels, senior vice president strategic development and government affairs with Sightline Payments.

“The ability to evolve payment methods beyond cash to offer these new payment methods will be important in meeting our customer’s needs,” Michaels said. “For operators, this means having modern payment technology across their property and continuing to educate regulators about digital wallets and payment trends more broadly.”

So, what does this mean for the U.S. gaming industry, which has relied on cash for decades?

Michaels said the broader consumer trends away from using cash are undeniable and people view the shift of the gaming industry away from all cash as inevitable.

The acceptance of digital payment systems began to drastically change shortly after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic in March 2020, forcing casinos to close in the U.S. and consumers looking for alternatives to using cash.

“Casino floors have long been one of the few places in this country where transactions are only conducted using cash, but recent innovations, coupled with health and safety concerns that arose during the pandemic, have accelerated the introduction of digital payments,” said Casey Clark, senior vice president with the American Gaming Association (AGA).

Clark stressed the AGA remains committed to “supporting payment choice for consumers on the gaming floor, including cash and digital payment options.”

The Nevada Gaming Commission, in June 2020, approved amendments to existing regulations that allowed for the electronic exchange of money at some games. In January, Nevada approved regulations to permit remote ID verification for cashless wagering.

So far, eight states that have adopted cashless gaming and digital payment options for commercial and tribal casinos: Nevada; California; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; Indiana; Iowa; Ohio; and Florida.

“But the goal is not to eliminate cash,” Michaels added. “The goal is providing our customers with a wide range of payment options so we can meet them where they are — the same payment options they enjoy in their daily lives.

“Increasingly that means providing digital payment options, but there will always be a segment of our customer base who prefers to pay with cash, and they absolutely should be able to do so even as you see less cash used across casino floors.”

Clark agreed, saying payment modernization is a welcome development for the gaming industry, “which continues to support giving consumers options.”

“Digital payments provide several benefits,” Clark said. “They offer consumer choice and convenience, but most importantly, offer enhanced responsible gaming tools and insights, as well as additional layers of AML protections.”

Clark assured the industry and consumers that the AGA will “continue to focus on regulator, bank and payment processor engagement to advance payment modernization.”

“As digital payment options become available at an increasing number of casinos across the country, our innovative industry will continue our long track record of giving customers a great experience,” he said.

“The AGA will continue to focus on regulator, bank and payment processor engagement to advance payment modernization adoption.”

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