IGT Looks to Offer Cryptocurrency via Retail Casino Games

For many years, operators in the gambling industry within the United States have been trying to come up with new ways to allow players to pay for games. For decades, the main source of payment was cash. However, more people are using mobile devices or debit/credit cards than ever before, and casino operators want to adapt. Even more payment methods are used often by consumers that are not the traditional options, like PayPal or Venmo. International Game Technology (IGT) is looking to add a new and more versatile option for players after receiving patent approval for a new cashless wallet. If all goes well, the game developer will allow players to pay for gaming via cryptocurrency.

Obtaining a Patent

This week, IGT announced it was approved for a patent for a product that will allow players to transfer cryptocurrency for gameplay via a cashless wallet. Basically, players would be able to use Bitcoin and move it to virtual wallets on a slot game by using a mobile device.

Phil O’Shaughnessy, a spokesman for the company, said that IGT was able to secure a patent to boost is portfolio in anticipation of changes to gambling involving cryptocurrency. With the addition of cryptocurrency, gaming operators would be able to provide more services to younger players.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bitcoin is being used more frequently by consumers. Millennials have especially taken to the currency type. Over the next five years, around 44% of millennials have plans to buy the currency.

For casinos to stay up to date with what the younger demographic wants, then additional payment methods like cryptocurrency need to be offered. Take for example, Caesars Palace. About one third of the casinos’ guests are age 21 to 40.

The popularity of cryptocurrency has increased recently due to the price point. Bitcoin has increased over 4x in price within the past year. Bitcoin is not a widely used payment method for transactions, but it is one that has been known to be a popular option among online gamblers.

In the past, players who liked to use cryptocurrency could convert Bitcoins or other formats into cash by using special ATMs located at casinos. However, in 2020, the Nevada Gaming Commission decided to allow cashless systems at casinos. This allowed players to use smartphones to transfer funds to gaming machines in a direct manner.

IGT will be adding the option after the company was given approval by regulators to add the format. Players can use a Resort Wallet loyalty card and deposit funds straight on to slot machines. This will be an easy way for millennials to be able to make payments for gameplay via cryptocurrency.

The company plans to add the payment option to popular games like Wheel of Fortune and Megabucks. Once live, players will be able to take advantage of the cryptocurrency option. It will be certainly welcome by many as players are less willing to use cash now, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was even a coin shortage for a short time due to the avoidance of people using cash on a regular basis. It will be interesting to see how the payment method is accepted and if players take to it like they are expected to.

Rebecca Kont
Rebecca Kont

Rebecca lives in Las Vegas and after completing her degree at Reynolds Journalism school joined the USGS team to pursue her journalism dreams.