PlayOn, a new casino technology that pays gamblers between hands in casino chips. has led to controversy, as it will soon be in use at Las Vegas venues.
The device means players can avoid getting up from a gambling table to head over to an ATM machine or cashier’s window between hands. But its use led to a debate over the impact on gamblers, especially those at risk for addictive behavior.
Innovations in gambling technology come with potential costs and benefits,” said Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), to Casino.org. “Systems like PlayOn, that, according to the company itself, are designed to increase time and money players spend at the table, inherently are likely to negatively impact individuals with gambling problems.”
Though the council — which advocates for programs to help problem gamblers — is neutral on legalized gambling, Whyte believes the device raises concerns.
“Increasing the speed of transactions and removing the break in play necessary to visit an ATM may facilitate the preoccupation, loss of control and loss chasing that is the hallmark of gambling addiction,” Whyte explained. “The technology does allow for some safeguards such as bank-imposed daily withdrawal limits.”
The New York Post reported the PlayOn solution will soon be in use at the Palms Casino Resort. It was tested at Red Rock Resort and Casino.
“We call on ACS and properties who use PlayOn to utilize the data they collect to monitor performance, encourage gamblers to set their own limits of time and money, deliver personalized responsible gambling messages, allow players to self-exclude, synchronize their exclusions with property and state exclusion lists, research signs of problematic play, and develop models to help predict and prevent excessive usage,” Whyte added.
Further Study Needed Before Offering Technology
“I wish the industry would study the effects of such operational changes before they roll them out,” James P. Whelan, co-director of the University of Memphis’ Institute for Gambling Education and Research, told Casino.org when asked about the new device.
“It is my opinion that gambling operators have the corporate responsibility to know that such product changes are not predatory or harmful, and to inform the gambler, particularly those with a gambling disorder, when there is any change in risk,” Whelan added. “Such safety evaluations can be done by third party or third-party review, and the results should be made public.”
In fact, Whelan compares it to a “lesson that should have been learned from the tobacco industry. Predatory conduct/decisions have significant costs in the long run, including the potential for increased regulatory oversight or potential litigation.”
Overall, he adds that many answers regarding the issue related to the technology and problem gambling are unknown as research knowledge evolves.
“People (are) worried about the harm that might be related to cashless play,” he said. “Those worries have not come to fruition.”
In addition, Richard McGowan, a finance professor at Boston College who studies gambling trends, said “It is always a good policy to have players pause before they continue to play.
They can view what they won, but they will also realize what they could lose if they continue to play,” McGowan explained to Casino.org. “Any pause in the action helps someone to think about what they are doing.”
He added: It “will be especially important for those customers that have a gambling problem.” He also suggested it might be an interesting addition to implement the type of slot machine that will operate in the United Kingdom.
“The machine will actually make the player pause and change the screen if the player is constantly losing,” McGowan said. “In other words, the machine will tell the player to stop and think about what they are doing.”
PlayOn Provides Convenience, No Overdraws
Automated Cashless Systems, the provider of PlayOn, says on the Reno-based company’s website that the device “uses safe and secure transaction technology.” Automated Cashless Systems tested the device in cooperation with Station Casinos in March. PlayOn was installed on two tables at Red Rock Resort and Casino.
The company contends PlayOn also is convenient for players and the table players do not incur debt. Casinos benefit, given that PlayOn “allows players the convenience of accessing their money right from their gaming position, retaining the player, and increasing revenue,” according to the company’s website.
In addition, PlayOn’s website says the device “maintains the highest level of PCI compliance, and has been tested by Gaming Labs International to ensure that the solution has no effect on the outcome of the game. Responsible Gaming considerations of the PlayOn…solution restricts players to the use of debit cards only, and prohibits the use of credit cards or the ability to overdraw checking accounts that incur debt.”
It uses point of sale (POS) transaction technology. POS can provide more cash daily to an account holder than a traditional bank ATM card, the Post reported.