‘Cashless’ cards next for slot machines?

Aug 14, 2001 6:22 AM

Las Vegas-based Innovative Gaming Corporation of America (Nasdaq: IGCA) announced Monday it has secured the patents that would allow exclusive use of charge cards, ATM and debit cards on slot machines.

The eight U.S. and corresponding foreign patents are key to the possible conversion of the more than 2 million slots worldwide.

Moreover, all credit, debit and ATM cards issued by any bank or financial institution can be used with this new technology.

“These are the most significant patents in the gaming industry with regard to cashless gaming,” said IGCA Âí­Chairman and CEO Roland Thomas. “Our patents will eliminate the need for players to carry cash.”

Thomas said the system will, among other things, provide players with detailed accounting of their transactions, and the convenience of not having to hunt for funds.

It will also give players opportunity to program into their play limits, as well as a “cooling off” span after making withdrawals. The system can also detect underage and unauthorized gamblers.

While IGCA is developing the technology, most jurisdictions have yet to approve the direct use of credit or cash cards for gaming. But, Thomas said, it’s a matter of time before they do.

“Our industry is about technological advances,” Thomas said. “We feel we are applying the technology in a responsible way.”

And so do some gaming critics. Former California Lt. Governor Leo McCarthy, who helped draft Congress’ National Gambling Impact Report, said: “I’m impressed with IGCA’s responsible approach to gaming. No one else in this industry is doing anything like this.”

Initially, the new technology will work this way: Players will come to a casino with their credit, debit or ATM card and register it at the casino’s ATM-like device. This would set the parameters for their slot play in the casino.

The casino will benefit from the technology by finding new revenue sources and increasing its customer base by reducing the wait time associated with getting funds, handling funds, and by providing access to new strategic marketing methods for player development.

The new technology and the patents that allow for its worldwide usage join other cutting edge technology developed by IGCA. They include the firm’s revolutionary Internet technology, and its exclusive PC-based Linux slot machine operating system.

IGCA closed trading on Monday at $2 per share on a volume of 924,500 shares. Its 52-week lows and highs were $.375 and $1.97, respectively.