Crown Perth casino trials debit card chip purchases at gaming tables

Australian casino operator Crown Resorts is trialing cashless purchases of chips at its gaming tables, a move that has problem gambling groups fearing the worst.

On Thursday, Western Australia talk radio station 6PR reported that the Crown Perth casino plans to embark on a test-run of an electronic funds transfer at point of sale (EFTPOS) system at “a small number” of its gaming tables starting next Monday (27).  

The trial, which has the blessing of the state’s Gaming & Wagering Commission, will allow gamblers to use their debit cards to purchase chips without having to leave the table and walk back to the casino cage. The Commission said Crown has been instructed to provide “a report on the use of the facility at the completion of the first three months of operation.”

Problem gambling advocates warn that removing the ‘friction’ of having to leave the table to purchase chips will exacerbate problem gambling activity but Crown is simply moving in lockstep with the larger societal shift away from handling cash. 

Crown issued a statement saying recent years had demonstrated “a noticeable shift to the use of cashless payments in our community,” a trend the company claims “has now accelerated because of COVID-19.” Crown stressed that “credit cards will not be allowed and transaction limits will apply” to the EFTPOS trial. The limits are said to be AU$500 (US$356) per day.

Crown is far from alone in looking to end the use of cash payments in casinos. The American Gaming Association recently released its new Payments Modernization Policy Principles aimed at reducing US casinos’ reliance on handling customer cash.

Nevada casinos have already flirted with Automated Cashless Systems’ PlayOn table-based ATM system and the off-Strip Ellis Island Casino is now hosting a trial of Konami Gaming’s new ‘digital slot marker’ that will permit customers with PIN-protected Synkros cashless wagering accounts to receive credit for slots play within five minutes of applying.

Last month saw the Nevada Gaming Commission remove barriers impeding the ability to transfer funds from smart devices to gaming positions and back again.

Cashless casino play appears tailor-made for implementing blockchain-based technologies, particularly those based on Bitcoin SV, which not only enable regulators to precisely monitor financial transactions for signs of sketchy behavior but also permit players to better monitor their own gambling spending.