ATM Device will Spit Out Tickets Instead of Cash

29 August 2005
A Las Vegas company that has cash access machines on the floors of more than 900 casinos is preparing to roll out devices that will print ticket in-ticket out coupons that can be used in slot machines.

Global Cash Access Inc.'s Electronic Debit Interactive Terminal Housing -- known as EDITH -- has been approved by regulators and the first machines will be on local casino floors by the fourth quarter.

Tom Sears, executive vice president of business development for GCA, said the device is in the last stage of lab testing and debugging. Ten casinos have ordered the stand-alone kiosks and the company is expected to make a big push to market them at next month's Global Gaming Expo trade show in Las Vegas. Sears did not disclose which casinos would be the first to have the devices.

Like automated teller machines, the EDITH kiosks can be used to access a casino patron's bank account with a debit card. But instead of dispensing cash, the machines print bar-coded tickets that can be inserted into cashless slot machines on the casino floor and turned into credits that can be wagered.

Sears said the machines would have daily transaction withdrawal limits similar to those on standard ATMs. EDITH machines also print transaction receipts and deduct fees for their use.

"More and more people are using debit cards for most of their transactions," Sears said. "This is all about convenience for the patron."

Sears said the EDITH machines are appealing to casinos because they don't have to be tended to as frequently as cash-holding machines and it's easy to change out a roll of unprinted TITO tickets.

While EDITH and other casino ATMs provide access to bank accounts, banking regulations prohibit gamblers from depositing winnings directly into their accounts.

The stand-alone kiosks comply with existing gaming regulations. A similar unit known as a Ticket Out Debit Device, or TODD, is in operation at a tribal casino in California. The primary difference between EDITH and TODD -- which the company is marketing as "TITO's cashless cousins" -- is that TODD is mounted on a slot machine.

Sears admitted that the public "is not ready for that" in Nevada.

As recently as last year, gaming regulators expressed some squeamishness for technology that would enable gamblers to withdraw cash from their banks wirelessly with a portable unit operated by casino personnel.

The Nevada Gaming Commission rejected the device developed by Cash Systems Inc. of Burnsville, Minn., and marketed by Las Vegas-based Mikohn Gaming Corp. Mikohn has since taken the name Progressive Gaming International Corp.

Cash Systems asked regulators for permission to field-test the device in Nevada casinos, but commissioners rejected the proposal, noting that the Nevada Legislature, in 1995, banned incorporating ATM systems with gaming devices and they felt the portable unit had the potential of being too close to crossing that line.

The company was expected to test the device in California and bring it back to Nevada after allowing problem gambling researchers to determine if there was a correlation between the use of the devices and addictive gambling behavior.

GCA's Sears said his company has worked closely with the National Council on Problem Gaming since 1999 to prevent gamblers with addictive behavior from having easy access to their bank accounts in casinos. He noted that customers could place personal limits on cash access as a safeguard.

GCA, which saw its revenue climb 15.1 percent to $112.5 million in the second quarter of 2005, including an increase in ATM services revenue of 15.8 percent to $45.2 million, recently signed a multiyear contract with the Hard Rock Hotel for its QuickJack Plus, Casino Cash Plus and QuikCash cash advance devices which operate as ATMs as well as redemption centers for cashless slot tickets.

Copyright © Las Vegas Sun. Inc. Republished with permission.