Prepaid Gambling Debit Cards Get Regulatory Thumbs Up in Nevada

Posted on: February 28, 2014, 05:30h. 

Last updated on: February 26, 2014, 05:55h.

Pre-paid debit cards Nevada gambling
Now approved by regulatory authorities, Nevada gamblers will soon be able to use pre-paid debit cards on slot machines (Image: ThinkStock)

Nevada has joined Atlantic City in approving the introduction of prepaid debit cards for use in its gaming devices, a move that is being praised by promoters of responsible gambling and casino operators alike. The cards – which are tied to a customer’s rewards account – can be used much like a traditional debit card, except that when the card balance hits zero the customer is forced to stop gambling. In this sense they function just like cash.

Nevada Gaming Commission Gives Okay

The regulatory amendments, which were passed unanimously by the Nevada Gaming Commission, are the result of over two years of discussions between payments processor Sightline and regulators, responsible gaming advocates, operators and gaming equipment suppliers.
“This is a historic development for gaming, not just in Nevada but potentially nationwide,” said Kirk Sanford, CEO and Founder of Sightline Payments. “The gaming industry has long lagged behind the broader economy in its utilization of electronic payments. The action by the Commission clears the way to bring the benefits of electronic payments to both gaming operators and gaming patrons. We’re grateful that Nevada has taken the first step, and we plan to pursue similar regulatory initiatives in other jurisdictions.”
Nevada bans the use of credit cards for gambling, and yet the casinos have always welcomed the idea of a cashless wagering system to reduce the difficulties and costs associated with handling and transporting large amounts of cash.
The new cards provide the solution, while satisfying regulatory concerns at the same time. Station Casinos chief financial officer Marc Falcone welcomed the move, saying, “We believe that it is time Nevada gaming companies get the benefits of electronic commerce that have been available to other industries for several years.”

Could Help Problem Gamblers Set Limits

Sightline’s attorney Dennis Neilander – former commissioner of the Nevada Gaming Control Board – told the Gaming Commission that the cards satisfied the concerns of the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling, an organization that has fought hard against the use of traditional credit cards and debit on gaming tables and devices. He also said that the limits on the prepaid cards are governed by the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, adding that many banks have cash limits on the cards and that customers can set their own limits on the amount the card can hold;  a potential method of self-control for problem gamblers. Sightline would also make visible a warning about problem gambling to players when they load funds from a bank account to the card.
United Coin general manager Steve Des Champs highlighted the safety benefits for customers, saying that the cards negated the need for people to carry large amounts of cash around; therefore decreasing the risk of robbery as well.
“It would provide an enhanced level of safety and security,” he said in a letter to the commission.
While the Gaming Control Board must approve the technology before the cards can be used, the regulatory amendments clear the way for Sightline to work with casino operators to bring their trademark Loyalty Card Plus card into Nevada casinos. The card is already used by three online gaming operators in New Jersey:  Borgata, PartyPoker and Golden Nugget.