Digital payment methods promise a cashless future, but is the industry ready to give up hard currency? CGB spoke to the AGLC's Niaz Nejad about what the new tech means for the industry
Interview by Gregory Furgala
Casinos and cash are a natural (and necessary) pair, but digital payment technology is making its way into land-based casinos, promising players a more convenient means of gambling than ever. But while cashless gaming has potential, the new tech raises questions about its safety, utility and which customers are clamouring for it. People still like handling money, current responsible gambling strategies revolve around physical cash and digital privacy has become a top-of-mind issue for everyone. Canadian Gaming Business spoke to Niaz Nejad, COO and vice president of gaming and cannabis at Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis, about what both the industry and customers can expect from cashless gaming, and how the technology can be used going forward.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity
CGB: What’s the future of cash?
Niaz Nejad: There will always be cash in the gaming industry. To think the gaming industry will every in our lifetime be completely cashless is probably unrealistic. I don’t even call it cashless, to be honest. I really like the term digital payments, because we live in a digital world right now and we have many different methods of paying for things, whether it’s Apple Pay, tap-and-go or any type of other credit and debit payment. But cash will always exist. You have to factor into the convenience of cash into the casino industry and the responsible gambling aspects of cash.
I also think a lot of people like to carry cash in their wallet, and they’re uncomfortable with digital payment methods. [Customers might ask] “where’s my data going? Is my data safe? Who has access to it? Can it be hacked?” I think for a lot of those reasons, the industry will be hard-pressed to go completely cashless in the near term. But I think we’ll see more adoption as technology moves into land-based gaming, and you’ll certainly see adoption on the legal online gambling side. But as far as land-based casinos, I think cash will still be predominant for many years to come.
From a player perspective, what do you think cashless means?
From a customer perspective, I think it means convenience. It means the ability to just use your digital device or some other type of credit card feature, or debit card feature, to actually pay for purchases. I think it really boils down to convenience for consumers when they think about cashless or digital modes of payment.