Cashless Gambling Coming to Penn National Casinos in PA, But When?

Posted By Kevin Shelly on May 12, 2021

Penn National Gaming‘s CEO flatly said in a recent earnings call, then again in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that his company is working to roll out cashless gambling this year.

Jay Snowden even set a tight timeline – but with an escape clause – in a forward-looking statement filed with the SEC:

“We will be launching the 3Cs (cashless, cardless and contactless) experience throughout the remainder of 2021 at our four casinos in Pennsylvania with the first launch near the end of Q2 2021, pending regulatory approval.”

The end of Q2 is a little more than six weeks from now.

Penn National now operates two casinos in PA, the state that houses its headquarters. They are Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course and The Meadows. The company plans to open a mini-casino in York sometime in August, at the top of the third quarter.

A fourth facility, also a mini-casino, is set to open in Morgantown late in the year, in the fourth quarter.

PGCB needs to approve any cashless gaming option

According to spokesman Doug Harbach, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board currently has no cashless proposals in front of them from anyone.

Harbach said the PGCB is already looking at the cashless alternative, but there’s no hard deadline.

He cautioned an operator would need to spell out and get approval for criteria, controls, and equipment. The equipment would need to pass testing in the PGCB’s lab. None of that has yet happened.

Penn National spokesman notes ‘regulatory approval’ clause in the plan

Without additional elaboration, a Penn spokesman responded to PlayPennsylvania‘s questions about the timing of their cashless rollout in PA:

“As noted, our timeline is ‘pending regulatory approval.'”

Leading tech company has predicted Q3 rollout in PA

In late March, Joe Pappano, CEO of leading payment processor, Sightline Payments, told PlayPennsylvania he believes cashless payment options should arrive in the Keystone State by Q3 2021.

Sightline, regulators, and operators alike expect cashless options to help promote responsible gambling within casinos.

The company has not responded to a recent request for an update on where the rollout now stands.

Limited use for a cashless system to date

The Seminole Nation‘s 12 Florida casinos offer cashless wagering via Scientific Games. Some tribal casinos in California are also using various forms of cash-free gambling.

But otherwise, cashless remains mostly in pilot program mode at select Boyd Gaming facilities in NevadaIndiana, and Ohio using the company’s rewards card, BoydPay, which comes with a digital wallet.

Some small Nevada gaming operators use a variation known as a pin debit system supported by ACS PlayOn for cashless play.

For a quick visual overview of cashless in casinos, see the following video from PlayUSA.

Lead image credit: AP Photo/Wayne Parry

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Kevin Shelly

Kevin C. Shelly is an award-winning career journalist who has spent most of his career in South Jersey. He's the former assistant city editor of The Press of Atlantic City, where he covered the casino industry and Atlantic City government as a reporter. He was also an investigative, narrative enterprise, and features reporter for Gannett’s Courier-Post.

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