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New Product Puts Cash at Gamblers' Disposal Quicker

13 April 2006

by Howard Stutz

LAS VEGAS -- Two Las Vegas gaming-equipment providers are developing a device that could eventually let slot customers make credit-card and debit-card withdrawals directly at the game.

The proposed device won't allow casino patrons to gamble directly off their Visa or American Express cards, but will remove several steps in the current money access process, Mike Rumbolz, chief executive officer of Cash Systems, said Wednesday.

Cash Systems is developing the product with Bally Technologies. Scotch Twist LLC, which has several patents that allow for the transfer of money to a gaming device, is also participating in the joint venture. Rumbolz could not give a price for the product because it is still in development.

The product would let casino patrons set up accounts with particular gambling halls, using conventional credit cards or debit cards as cash sources to fund wagering.

The device would let players access money through their regular player club cards off any of the casino's slot machines. For security, players would need personal identification numbers to access the money.

Bally Technologies will provide the hardware for the slot machine-casino interface and the accounting systems. Cash Systems will provide the products for cash access transactions between the casino and banks.

Both Bally Technologies and Cash Systems will jointly market the product.

Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander said current state law does not allow the direct electronic transfer of money from credit cards into a gaming device. The legislation does not cover debit cards and the Nevada Gaming Commission has asked the control board not to approve any proposed devices that would enable money transfers from a debit card into a slot machine until more information is gathered.

"We're just going to have to take a look at what they are proposing before we know if this product would be allowed under our laws," Neilander said.

Rumbolz said the system is at least nine months to a year from being used on a casino floor. The system will first be tested in American Indian gaming jurisdictions, Rumbolz said.

"In the casino environment, time equals money, and these products will significantly expedite the cash advance process where both customers and casinos believe it matters most, at the gaming device," Rumbolz said.

Bally Technologies Chief Executive Officer Richard Haddrill said the product would increase gamblers' convenience.

"This next stage of cashless (gaming) will provide both patron convenience and operator efficiency," Haddrill said.

Problem-gambling advocates have traditionally opposed allowing credit card access at slot machines. But Rumbolz said the products could offer some form of data gathering on customers' wagering habits.

"These products will provide regulators with new methods for identifying and addressing critical issues surrounding responsible gambling," Rumbolz said.

In news related to Wednesday's announcement, Bally Technologies said Tuesday that it agreed to provide Boyd Gaming Corp. with casino management, slot accounting and slot machine bonus technology for the company's 30,000 slot machines in six states.

A Bally spokesman said he could not give a price for the transaction.

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