The American Gaming Association (AGA) has published a new document, Payments Modernization Policy Principles, that provides a framework for regulatory flexibility to enable digital payments on the casino floor.

Stemming from an 18-month, collaborative industry effort, the principles come at a time when the majority (57%) of past-year casino visitors report that the option for digital or contactless payments on the casino floor is important to them because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The AGA believes that enabling payment choice allows casino customers the ability to supplement cash with safe and secure digital payment options on the casino floor. This not only improves responsible gaming efforts by equipping customers with digital tools to help them monitor their gaming and set limits, but also provides operators, regulators, and law enforcement increased transparency into matters of anti-money laundering and monitoring of financial transactions.

“Advancing opportunities for digital payments has been one of our top priorities since my first day at the AGA,” said President and CEO Bill Miller. “It aligns with gaming’s role as a modern, 21st century industry and bolsters our already rigorous regulatory and responsible gaming measures.

“The COVID-19 pandemic made it all the more important to advance our efforts to provide customers with the payment choice they are more comfortable with and have increasingly come to expect in their daily lives.”

Early last year, the AGA convened a working group of members to evaluate the regulatory, processing, and consumer landscape related to expanding payment options on the casino floor. The Payments Modernization Policy Principles, the product of that collaborative effort, seeks to educate state and tribal regulators who are considering expanding payment choice:

The advice comprises six key criteria, beginning with the need to equip customers with more tools to wager responsibly. It advocates giving customers payment choice and convenience and ensuring state laws enable a flexible regulatory approach – one that is capable of keeping pace with evolving forms of digital payments.

It also seeks to address heightened customer public health concerns, provide customers with confidence in digital payment security and create a uniform regulatory environment for casino operators, suppliers, and regulators. Lastly it makes the call for empowerment of law enforcement to better identify offenders through digital payment analysis.

The principles reflect the AGA’s ongoing coordination with regulators, card networks, responsible gaming and problem gambling advocates, financial institutions, and other key players in the payments ecosystem.

Health, however, seems to be one of the more pressing issues around payment, with recent AGA research finding that 59% of past-year casino visitors are less likely to use cash in their everyday lives because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “This translates to customer preferences on the casino floor, as more than half (54%) indicate that they would be very likely to utilize a digital or contactless payment option when they gamble,” said the association.

The AGA added that it is supporting regulator, operator, and supplier efforts to introduce digital payments as part of a number of contactless measures to promote public health on the casino floor.