Cashless Gaming Prompts Concerns | UKGC Shares Survey Results

Senior Reporter

Anyone born before 1999 will likely remember the joys of playing outside, splashing around in muddy puddles, and occasionally getting a mouth full of sand falling off the swings. Picking random berries off bushes and eating unwashed apples right off the trees didn’t phase anyone in the slightest. Unfortunately, new generations won’t get the luxury to tell the same story, as the ongoing pandemic resulted in fear touching cash. Tech companies put some gas into the development of cashless payments, which casino facilities, especially ones in Nevada, ate right up. Now the UK land-based casinos want to get on board with the new system, but survey statistics show that gamblers aren’t too thrilled about the futuristic payment option.

Cashless gaming prompts concerns | UKGC shares survey results
Image: pixabay.com

What is cashless gaming?

For the last two decades, American Gaming Association, and tech companies like IGT, have attempted to introduce a new way of gambling transactions called cashless gaming to land-based casinos. It’s a system that allows players to make deposits, withdrawals, and even make bets via slot machines. The initial idea offered ticked vouchers that would be inserted and printed on the spot, but old school gamblers struggled to understand the concept. Most operators rejected cashless gaming due to its complicated process and turned their backs on the system until recent events took place.

The COVID-19 pandemic shook up the land-based gambling industry. Casinos across the world were forced to shut down for months, revenue was lost, and some couldn’t afford to re-open after the lockdown. New regulations created rough conditions for operators in terms of keeping up with sanitation requirements, social distancing, and so on. Virus cases kept fluctuating, and casino operators were in need of a new way to eliminate the potential spread. Since COVID-19 can be transmitted through cash, the once-forgotten cashless gaming concept became the new center of attention - especially among USA casinos.

Resort World Las Vegas was the first to show off the full-blown potential of the digital payment system, earning the title of the world’s first cashless gaming casino in June 2021. Hundreds of slots, table games, and even casino chips were fused with the new technology that allows players to make bets using chip sensors at tables, track every bet, split, double-down, side wager, and complete each transaction without ever touching cash. All that guests have to do is bring a mobile device, download a loyalty program called Genting Rewards, and spare some time to experience the beauty of cashless gaming.

United Kingdom operators intrigued by cashless gaming

UK casinos are interested in introducing cashless gaming to players since cash payments are becoming less and less prevalent in the country. More than half of all financial transactions in Great Britain during the Covid-19 pandemic were reported to be cashless. Plastic cards are taking over, and companies are eager to keep up with modern technologies.

However, cashless gambling in UK's land-based casinos is not legalized quite yet. The government, as well as casino operators, are reviewing the new payment opportunity in order to ensure that it will benefit gamblers in the long run. The UK Gambling Commission is supportive of the idea, but feedback from casino customers is crucial in making the ultimate decision to implement digital payments into gambling facilities.

The UK Gambling Commission conducts a survey

UK Government officials are willing to allow cashless gaming in land-based casinos, but not before gamblers get a chance to voice their opinions on the matter. In order to accurately record and review consumers’ input, officials prompted the UK Gambling Commission to conduct a 2CV online survey asking 314 land-based gamblers for their views on cashless gaming.

The questionnaire was a success, considering the number of important issues pointed out in the process. First and foremost, it was concluded that the traditional way of gambling with cash is still favored among land-based consumers. But more importantly, there were also concerns regarding the possible increase of gambling addictions and potential overspending due to the blinding convenience factor of cashless gaming.

To summarize the survey, the following key points were extracted:

  • 85% stated cashless payments make it easier to overspend
  • 77% believe cashless payments made it easier to spend money on gambling
  • 68% reported difficulty keeping track of expenditures when using cashless payments
  • 33% opposed the idea of cashless gaming due to privacy concerns
  • 70% found that using cash allowed them to better monitor spendings when gambling

The numbers paint a clear picture of how cashless payments can serve as a powerful tool to finesse money out of distracting gamblers. In order to be mindful of spendings, it’s important to keep track of each transaction, and knowing when to stop before dumping too much money on slots or table games.

“However, land-based gamblers who prefer to use cashless payments said that this was due to security, the speed and ease of making payments, having a record of transactions, and limiting contact in a post-Covid world...Preference for cashless skews to younger gamblers, moderate-risk gamblers, and problem gamblers.” the UKGC report stated.

So despite the interest in preserving the traditional casino experience (which only involves cash), it’s clear that the main issue lies in the semantics of digital payments rather than the overall concept. 

Survey takers unenthused - UKGC offers solutions

Less than a fourth of the 314 survey takers were in favor of cashless gaming. The rest rejected the idea, which prompted the UKGC to find a solution that would ease the level of concern expressed by land-based gamblers. Cashless gaming requires a level of financial stability and mindfulness of consumers, and it’s essential to find a way to ensure that both factors are intact.

With that in mind, Gambling Commission representatives proposed a tracking application that would monitor the activity of each gambler, and notify the users lest they go over their set spending limits. UKGC is yet to address the concerns regarding problem gamblers.

The benefits of touch-less transactions outweigh the disadvantages by a large, so it’s unlikely that the survey will affect the overall decision of bringing digital payments into the UK’s casino facilities. The disadvantages of cashless pay systems pale in comparison to all the benefits they would bring to users as well as operators. It’s best to tweak details rather than reject a concept that will aid in countering public health concerns, and improve the quality of operations in UK casinos.

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