On June 25, the Nevada Gaming Commission will hold a public hearing that could make wagering at racetracks and sportsbooks available without even using cash. The bettors would simply fund their accounts from home on a mobile device.
The NGC released its agenda on Friday – the same day that Governor Steve Sisolak announced that June 4 would be when all of the state’s casinos are allowed to open again after two months of being closed.
As the plan stated, the NGC will consider proposed amendments that allow “electronic transfers of money to a game or gaming device.” Doing so would save some bettors trips to the casino and certainly cut back on human interaction in the process. One day things will likely get back to normal, but this is what we’re dealing with for the time being.
“It looks like it’s going to be an expansion to go over all forms of gaming, including sports betting,” said Brianne Doura-Schawohl, legislative director of the National Council on Problem Gambling.
Making It Easier
Brendan Bussmann, a partner with Global Marketing Partners, said Nevada casinos have been hesitant to allow the mobile funding from home as it would probably not have customers spending money on the casino property.
“New Jersey shows it works — that you don’t need to go into a casino to fund your account,” said Bussmann. “We saw it during the shutdown when South Point (casino) and William Hill had to get creative on how to fund accounts when their locations weren’t open. In this day and age, you shouldn’t have to set up a drive-thru to fund players’ accounts.”
In fact, New Jersey shows that it really works. About 84 percent of the $4.5 billion worth of wagers made in 2019 were via mobile devices. The numbers show that the convenience of betting from home is something worth doing.
“A third of the population through a number of studies said they’re afraid of the coronavirus through the use of cash,” said Justice, who also cited concerns over reducing face-to-face transactions. “In order to get the industry to snap back and get back to full employment is to provide guests with assurances that it’s safe to come back and what they’re doing won’t put them in jeopardy.
“It took two weeks for the coronavirus to take out the industry. We have to think differently about how we’re deploying solutions.”
More Than Nevada
Nevada may not have the same level of population that New Jersey does, but plenty of people from surrounding states (Arizona, California, etc.) could make the short trip to the state line and place those bets.
Of course, it’s going to be a huge transition phase for casinos and bettors alike. After all, everyone has been away from casinos for two months, and there will certainly be an acclimation period.
“With problem and responsible gambling, we have a lot of concerns about what COVID has done,” Doura-Schawohl said. “The consumers that will be going back into casinos may be more at risk that’s compounded with a risky form of gambling with cashless (as they’re dealing with isolation and depression). Cashless is not causing friction that you need to take a break in your play.”
Not all methods of cashless betting are going to come without criticism. Some feel like we would benefit from seeing more results first.
“We feel cashless is not cut and dried,” Doura-Schawohl said. “The UK just recently banned the use of credit cards predicated on problem gambling. Some 22 percent of them who used credit cards met the criteria for gambling addiction, so we have reservations. We love to see more data and research in the US.”