Cash is such a 20th century concept. That’s a philosophy that has been gradually gathering momentum over the past few years, and it has almost achieved critical velocity in these strange times, when contact points are being kept to a minimum. In stores and restaurants, going cashless is no big deal, but in the world of the casino, it presents a unique challenge.
After all, here’s an environment where cash is king, and exchanging those chips or betting tokens for greenbacks lies at the very heart of the experience. All that, however, could be changing and Morongo Casino Resort in Palm Springs is at the heart of the revolution.
At a time when all the talk is about smart contracts and digital transactions on the blockchain, the idea of casino markers actually seems quite retro. It’s a concept that has been around for years in Las Vegas. A casino marker is a line of credit that a casino will offer clients so that they don’t have to carry large amounts of cash with them. The issue with traditional markers is that the process of approval, issuance and management has always been both time-consuming and labor-intensive.
20 years ago, Gary Ellis, the owner and operator of Ellis Island Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, came up with the idea of a new type of digital casino marker. It was tried at his own facility and proved to be a success for both the casino and the patrons. Now, it has been fully patented under the name Marker Trax, and it is ready for roll out to other facilities, of which Morongo will be the first. It is anticipated that Marker Trax will make Morongo Casino, Resort and Spa more competitive in its fight against the ever evolving software being used by online casinos, as well as providing enhanced convenience and safety to visitors.
Approval in minutes
To apply under Marker Trax, a casino visitor simply needs to join the Morongo Rewards Winner’s Club and install the Morongo Marker Trax app on his or her smartphone. The member can then apply directly through the app. The big difference with Marker Trax is that the application process is automated, with the app communicating with the casino management system to authorize the marker.
The time taken from application to funds being made available is typically a matter of minutes. Compare that with conventional markers that often took days and involved hours of administrative work and it is plain to see why Charlie Skinner, the Chief Operating Officer at Marker Trax, feels the system will revolutionize the player experience at Morongo.
Skinner explained that Marker Trax takes care of all the billing and collection. Not only does this remove a significant burden from casino management, it also means they have the bandwidth to offer far more credit lines. Under a traditional marker system, a casino might offer a few dozen markers, perhaps a couple of hundred at most. With Marker Trax, they can provide thousands.
Competing with cyberspace in the cashless age
Recent months have been tough for everyone, but leisure facilities have been among the hardest-hit businesses. That applies doubly for casinos, as in addition to the enforced closures, they had the specter of online alternatives constantly present and waiting to tempt gamblers in through their virtual doors.
Online casinos present a compelling alternative and have seen huge increases in membership and turnover in jurisdictions where they are permitted. As well as the safety and convenience factor of playing from home via a smartphone, they offer a vastly superior choice of gaming options. This is simply because they are not constrained by the physical limitations of a casino floor and how many machines it can accommodate. Online platforms with thousands of slots are not uncommon.
They are also in a position to tempt gamblers with potentially lucrative special deals and to provide games with a lower house edge. They can afford to – an online business can naturally operate with tighter margins as its costs and overheads will be so much lower than a brick and mortar leisure facility in a popular tourist location.
Casinos like Morongo know that clawing back some of that market share under the current circumstances is going to take more than a few sanitization stations and social distancing rules. In short, casinos will need to both give customers a reason to visit and provide as much reassurance as possible that it is safe for them to do so.
Offering cashless gaming through a system like Marker Trax will not cure everything at a single stroke, but it is certainly going to be a useful tool in helping Morongo Casino to remain viable and relevant in the casino landscape of the 2020s.
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