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Nevada regulators approve cashless gaming rules

Going cashless in Nevada casinos should be a little bit easier going forward.

The Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday voted unanimously to approve a new regulatory amendment that will allow casino-goers to remotely verify their identity and fund cashless wagering accounts for players without them having to physically go into a casino.

Prior to the change, which was proposed by Las Vegas-based Sightline Payments, customers needed to physically go into the casinos and have an employee verify their identity before they could fund the accounts and use the cashless gaming option, a process that Sightline co-CEO Omar Sattar called “very cumbersome.”

Several commissioners expressed some initial trepidation at the proposal during Thursday’s hearing about whether there were any need to simplify the process if it sacrificed the integrity of the process.

“I’m just not sure convenience and efficiency is the biggest concern. To me it’s the safeguards and protections. And so I’m not seeing why the in-person verification is so inefficient and so inconvenient,” Commissioner Ogonna Brown said.

Commissioner Ben Kieckhefer said he viewed the change as “very consumer facing” and a way of balancing the need for integrity in the verification process with the need to keep up with modern technologies. And the verification technology is similar to that used for taking out mortgage loans, he added.

“It may not feel like a burden, but I think to consumers it can. And it’s more time that they have to spend not having fun,” Kieckhefer said.

Sattar told the commission that giving customers the ability to verify and fund their accounts before even coming to the casino will significantly streamline the set-up process.

Sightline debuted its cashless wagering system at Boyd Gaming Corp.’s Aliante property and introduced it at the opening of Resorts World Las Vegas in June with customers required to get account verifications in person. But that in-person requirement created logistical issues because only a limited amount of staff were able to verify the IDs, which led to long lines that could have people waiting 40 minutes or longer, Sattar said.

Sattar said that the system could be up and running as soon as March.

“We finally believe that we are on the cusp of deploying modern payment technologies across casinos, not just in Nevada but throughout the country,” Sattar said.

Other states allow off-site sign-ups and verification — particularly for sports wagering accounts — but the Sightline proposal in Nevada does not include remote sign-ups for sports wagering and is specific to cashless gambling while inside a casino.

Sattar said that they removed the piece that would have included sports wagering after discussions with casino operators who had concerns that it could hurt the brick and mortar businesses down the line by allowing a large company to buy a small casino anywhere in Nevada and effectively compete against the other local companies in online sports betting without having invested much into the state itself.

“We completely understand that and agree with that,” Sattar said. “That hurts Nevada. That’s why we wanted to make sure sports was not included.”

Sattar said that Sightline believes that the regulatory change will have a significant impact in the overall adoption of cashless gaming.

“The reality is that Nevada is the intellectual capital of not just America, but of the world, for everything that happens in gaming,” he said. “We believe that what gets built and deployed here gets replicated all over the country.”

Contact Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

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