Today’s Steaming Pile of WTF: Prepaid Access Cards Approved for Slot Machines

It’s a touchy subject, but soon gamblers will have the option of using prepaid access cards to play slot machines in Las Vegas.

Why is it touchy? Well, for years casinos and gaming regulators have battled over whether to allow players to use debit or credit cards in slot machines. Prepaid access cards are presumably middle ground, presumably providing convenience for players, but also creating a barrier between gambling and direct to bank accounts.

New regulations, just approved by the Nevada Gaming Commission, open the door for prepaid access cards, which require a small degree of hoop-jumping, but are ultimately a casino’s wet dream.

slot machine sevens
What could possibly go wrong? Um, a lot.

To use the prepaid cards, a player would have to register with a casino, then transfer funds to the card from a checking or savings account. There will be limits on the amount that can be loaded onto the cards, $2,000 a day, $4,500 a week and $10,000 a month. The max a player could have on a card is $25,000.

The WTF part is casinos, and the company providing this prepaid card service called Sightline, are claiming the prepaid cards will “benefit casinos and players.”

Let’s say it like it is. This is a way for casinos to get their hands on more of our cash, plain and simple.

Advocates of the prepaid cards insist on rattling off alleged benefits to players, though.

They say customers don’t like ATM fees in casinos. Well, no kidding. How about just lowering ATM fees?

They also say players will be safer because they can get their jackpots credited to their prepaid cards rather than lugging around lots of cash. Because that scenario happens to very often. The pile continues to both heap and steam.

Yeah, who wants to carry around that kind of cash?

Sorry, but these prepaid slot cards aren’t just bad for problem gamblers, which is a serious concern, they’re bad for everybody else, too.

Going to an ATM is one of the best buffers against players spending far more than they’d planned at a Las Vegas casino. Especially when there’s liquor involved.

You have to step away from your table or slot machine, you have to find an ATM, you have to remember your password, and you have a withdrawal limit set by your bank. All these things serve as a reminder you just lost all the cash on you, and now you’re about to wager even more.

A rep for Sightline asserts, “There is a built-in wait time for players who lose their money on a prepaid card because it would take time for a player to go to a bank to reload funds from a checking or savings account.” It’s a decent point, but unfortunately, even good points are lost in the copious amounts of P.R. bullshittery.

Granted, prepaid cards may not be as dangerous as letting players use debit cards directly in a slot machine, but there’s still plenty of peril.

The best casinos can do to prevent abuse? Players wouldn’t be able to use their prepaid card for at least 15 minutes after they transfer funds. We are not kidding.

So, where do you land on this topic? Are you happy casinos are looking out for you and your convenience, or are we dangerously close to it being easier than ever to empty our bank accounts in a Las Vegas casino?