The Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission has taken official steps to explore cashless gaming at casinos as part of an ongoing effort to cut down on potential vectors for coronavirus transmission.
The Commission unanimously approved a resolution to explore and test the implementation of a cashless ticket in, ticket out (TITO) system at the state’s casinos, spurred by ongoing health concerns regarding close contact between casino staff and patrons related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Peggi O’Keefe, the Colorado Gaming Association’s Executive Director, said at the Aug. 27 meeting, “we’ve been working on these rules with the commission for some time. Technology continues to move forward and these best practices we’ve seen in other states happen to be very timely right now with the social distancing the casinos are enforcing and working to constantly improve their best practices.”
How TITO Works
TITO systems remove the need for cash transactions by replacing the traditional payment method with ticketing technology. Ticket-readers are installed at casino slot machines and table games. To get a ticket, gamblers can request them at the cashier’s cage or exchange cash for a ticket at one of many kiosks peppered throughout the casino floor.
Tickets, then, can be either inserted directly into a slot machine or electronic table game. At a table game with a real dealer, players can turn in a ticket for chips. When a player leaves the table, they can exchange their chips for a ticket of equal value.
TITO systems allow tickets to be used interchangeably between gaming tables or slot machines. A player could, for example, cash out a ticket at a slot machine and bring it directly to a table game and exchange it for chips, the commission said at the meeting. There are no plans to allow the tickets to be used for any non-gambling activity in a casino, however. At least not yet.
Health Concerns Spark The Need For TITO
According to the Commission, Covid-19 and related health concerns were a big reason for the move to install TITO systems in the state’s casinos.
Ron Kammerzell, President of Kammerzell Consulting Services and former longtime Colorado Department of Revenue member, spoke in favor of the move on behalf of his client Interblock Gaming. “These changes will place the Colorado gaming industry on par with many other gaming jurisdictions throughout the US and provide gaming operators and manufacturers a greater opportunity to successfully compete during these challenging times.”
Kammerzell continued to note that the need for decreased physical contact at casinos amps up the value of a TITO system. The push toward TITO in Colorado is “Intended to address and give operators much greater flexibility to socially distance their gaming floors, but also to recognize best practices in gaming jurisdictions throughout the US,” he says.
Reached by email Thursday, a Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission spokesperson said there was no timeframe as to when the TITO systems could start rolling out in Colorado casinos, and noted that tickets won’t be available until table games are allowed to reopen.
Online Betting Spikes In Colorado
Meanwhile, as the state’s stakeholders work to create a safe land-based gambling environment in Colorado, online sports betting is on the rise.
July marked Colorado’s third month with online sports betting live, and the numbers are impressive. Gross gaming revenue jumped 55% in July over the previous month, and a whopping 96.8% of wagers were placed online.
Chris Nesi contributed to this report.