Gambling Commission: Beware of Cashless Payment Option


Is cash still king? The answer seems to be ‘yes’ when it comes to a recent survey of gamblers regarding payment options at casinos in the United Kingdom.

In its review of the 2005 Gambling Act, the UK government is considering making cashless payments an option at land-based casinos. To this end, the government contracted the UK Gambling Commission to conduct an online survey of 314 land-based gamblers proctored by 2CV, a global research insights agency.

The results the Commission found were unsurprising and rather common sense but speak to a larger issue in the UK gambling sphere.


Always something happening at the GA

The UK Gambling Commission’s Survey

The results of the survey found that most of the canvassed land-based gamblers believed cash to be a superior method of payment when it comes to gambling at a casino. With cash, many people felt more in control of their spending habits, whereas cashless payment methods made them feel more likely to overspend when gambling at a casino.

The specific findings show that while most people saw cashless payments as a way to accidentally spend more money while gambling (or in general) nearly half of the respondents said they found it easy to monitor their spending with cashless payment options.

All in all the survey found that:

  • 85% believed cashless payments (in general) make it easier to spend more money than intended.
  • 77% said cashless payments made it easier to spend money on gambling.
  • 68% had difficulty keeping track of expenditures when using cashless payments.
  • 70% found that using cash allowed them to better monitor their spending when gambling.
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“However, land-based gamblers who prefer to use cashless payments said that this was due to security, the speed and ease of making payments, having a record of transactions, and limiting contact in a post-Covid world,” the UKGC report stated. “Preference for cashless skews to younger gamblers, moderate-risk gamblers, and problem gamblers.”

The Commission’s suggestions

Despite the majority of respondents seeming to favour cash when gambling, the UKGC nevertheless sees the benefits of cashless payment options in this sphere. Based on the results of the survey, the UKGC recommended the use of a tracking application to monitor an individual’s gambling activity and intercede if overspending becomes an issue.

Of those surveyed, only 22% thought the app was a good idea and would use it when gambling. On the other hand, 33% opposed the idea due to privacy concerns.

Cashless spending

Cashless gambling is not currently legal at land-based casinos in the United Kingdom but it is clearly being considered by the powers that be.

This UKGC report comes at a time when more than half of all financial transactions in Great Britain during the Covid-19 pandemic were cashless. Additionally, statistics show that cashless payments actually overtook cash more than three years ago in Britain as the primary payment method by its residents.

Cashless gambling

The move toward modern payments is not a new one and began in the US several years ago. In fact, the American Gaming Association has been pushing to modernize payments in casinos for the past few years already.

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic forced many US casinos to close their doors for months last year, land-based casinos across America had begun implementing cashless gambling payment options. Starting in Oklahoma, California, Michigan, and Nevada, the cashless trend is catching on in more and more states as time goes on.

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Any primarily online gambler will tell you about the multitude of secure casino payment options that are available at any online casino site. The technology not only exists for casinos but is prevalent in most industries and many countries worldwide. Global payments technology is already being adopted by land-based casinos in the US and some industry leaders suggest that integrating cashless could actually promote more responsible gambling.

In short, the UKGC’s survey just told us what we already knew: easier payment methods lead to easier spending. The Commission’s concerns that cashless pay is directly related to problem gamblers and those at-risk of becoming problem gamblers is also unsurprising but surely a conversation that needs to happen.

Cashless is king: The problems with Covid & cash

In an era when cashless spending is becoming the norm in more and more parts of the world, including the UK, it’s hard to see how the UKGC is even having this conversation. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused many to question the use of cash in any financial transaction, citing the spread of germs and contaminants on paper currency and coins.

A simple swipe of a smart card, a wave of a key fob, or mobile digital payments are gradually replacing cash in most major cities from East to West, a safer and more sanitary option in the era of global pandemics. The benefits of cashless payments like safety, security, and convenience seem to outweigh the drawbacks of possible overspending.


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