This week, the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) approved the ability to set up a cashless wagering account remotely for in-person gambling at Nevada casinos. The new gaming regulation does not apply to sports betting apps which still require in-person registration.
Sightline Payments proposed the change in regulation. The financial services company first submitted a petition for the regulation change in 2020. Another proposal was sent to Nevada gaming officials in 2021. The new version of the proposal was recommended for approval by the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) in Dec. 2021 before receiving approval in January.
“We are grateful to the Nevada Gaming Commission for their unanimous support of this regulatory change allowing remote identity verification for wagering accounts in Nevada,” said Omer Sattar, Co-CEO of Sightline Payments. He continued, “Continuous innovation is critical to ensure Nevada remains at the forefront of gaming.”
The new regulation is a small step forward for the NGC. Unfortunately, it’s not the large step forward that sports bettors have been impatiently waiting for. Nevada is one of the few states that require in-person mobile sportsbook account registration.
This is not a perfect cashless solution for all. It still progresses towards casinos in Nevada to someday become completely cashless.
Remote cashless account setup for Nevada casinos
The new regulation approved by the NGC allows casino guests to use an app to open a cashless gaming account without visiting a casino. Previously, the few cashless gaming options available in Las Vegas required an in-person setup and funding.
Setting up an account at a casino isn’t only inconvenient but it takes time. The process to sign up for cashless accounts when Resorts World Las Vegas opened in 2021 was confusing and time-consuming. Anecdotally, some visitors to the casino on the opening weekend had to wait as much as two hours before being able to use their new cashless account at Resorts World.
The new regulation allows casino guests to submit their personal information and fund an account before visiting a casino.
“This shift to allow for digital identity verification for wagering accounts allows Nevada’s gaming industry to leverage the best practices from across the financial services industry to enhance customer security and the customer experience,” said Jennifer Carleton, Sightline’s Chief Legal Officer.
The timing comes as Boyd Gaming is planning to roll out cashless accounts for all of its Las Vegas casinos after running a trial at Aliante last year.
Cashless gaming could continue to reach more casinos in Las Vegas and throughout Nevada. The IGT Resort Wallet Cashless Gaming Technology was approved by the NGC just prior to the remote account setup regulation change.
Nevada sports bettors still a step behind
Sports bettors in Nevada still have to visit a retail sportsbook inside of a casino in order to finalize setting up a mobile sportsbook account. Once a user establishes an account they can remotely fund an account.
Sightline did not include sports betting in this proposal to Nevada gaming regulators. The proposal was made this way for one major reason. Nevada casino operators still want sports bettors to visit their casinos at least once to set up a mobile sportsbook account. The financial services company was focusing its proposal on what it thought would receive approval from the NGC.
The vast majority of states with legal sports betting allow mobile registration. Remote sports betting account registration makes sense for everyone. However, it’s particularly important for regional casinos that could be a 2-3 hour drive for potential users.
According to the 2021 Nevada Gaming Abstract, there are 302 casinos in the Silver State with revenue over $1 million. There are more than a hundred smaller casinos located throughout the state.
Leaving the house to set up a mobile sports betting account is inconvenient no matter where the person is. However, driving a few miles to the nearest casinos is not as bad as having to drive 2–3 hours to a casino.
It’s somewhat understandable that the operators of casinos that service mostly Nevada locals would prefer this kind of account setup.
Making life difficult for Nevada tourists
Frankly, this old regulation is most inconvenient to tourists visiting Las Vegas. Since regulations in Nevada are different from other states, the mobile sportsbook app software is different. This makes an account from other states useless in Nevada.
Prior to the COVID–19 pandemic, the average visit to Las Vegas was 3.4 nights. Visitors are in Las Vegas for a good time, not a long time. Going out of the way to set up a gambling account just seems plain mean and short-sighted.
A visitor could be spending money elsewhere during the 15-20 minutes it takes to set up a sportsbook app account inside of a casino.
Nevada gaming regulators have to balance regulations that work for local casinos versus those that cater to tourists.