Las Vegas casinos could ditch cash amid coronavirus fears

Las Vegas gamblers could soon bet with their cellphones instead of cash as casinos try to bounce back from the coronavirus crisis, a new report says.

Nevada gaming regulators approved rules last week allowing casinos to expand the use of cashless betting amid concerns about the deadly COVID-19 bug spreading on gambling floors, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The move to digital wagers could help casinos cut down on the number of interactions with cashiers during the pandemic and more easily spot money laundering, the paper reported Sunday. But it also reportedly raises fears about people getting hooked on gambling amid an economic crisis.

“The faster you can access your funds and in some cases drain an entire bank account is a concern for people with gambling problems who tend to be highly impulsive,” Keith Whyte, the executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, told the Journal.

The use of cashless payments has reportedly grown during the pandemic as consumers tried to reduce contact at cash registers. But casinos have been slower to adopt tools such as digital wallets given concerns about problem gambling and finding the right technology, according to the Journal.

The coronavirus crisis could nonetheless speed up the shift in the gaming industry, the report says. Penn National Gaming plans to test “phone-based” systems in four of its Pennsylvania properties, an executive told the paper.

“The success of this hinges on player acceptance,” Nevada Gaming Control Board member Phil Katsaros told the Journal. “The player acceptance hinges on the operators themselves convincing players to sign up for this.”

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