Reno-based Automated Cashless Systems developed a technology that aims to alleviate ATM inconvenience for casino players |

Reno-based Automated Cashless Systems developed a technology that aims to alleviate ATM inconvenience for casino players

Duane Johnson
The PlayOn device that ACS is hoping will revolutionize the gaming industry.

One thing that can be an annoyance to casino patrons is running out of money and having to rush around finding the nearest ATM.

However, Reno-based Automated Cashless Systems, Inc., has developed a technology that aims to alleviate that inconvenience for casino players.

Called PlayOn, the technology allows patrons to access their own money utilizing a debit card from a banking institution, without ever having to leave a table. At the gaming table station, they swipe their debit card from a PlayOn terminal at a table or slot machine, similar to those at a grocery or retail store. From there, they can request an amount, enter their corresponding PIN and, upon approval, a voucher is produced and converted to chips at the table.

ACS executives tout PlayOn as technology that can revolutionize the gaming industry.

“Nobody uses cash much anymore,” said Steve Warner, founder of ACS. “Casinos are one of the last places where cash is really used.”

There are no membership signups or contracts for players. PlayOn is designed to maintain PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliance, for safe and secure debit card transactions. It also has been tested by the Gaming Labs International.

PlayOn can only be used with debit cards and cannot be used with credit or casino membership cards.

Warner said this was done intentionally, so that casino players will not accumulate incurred debt.

Michael Sackrison, ACS’ chief financial officer, added PlayOn is set up to comply with a gaming property’s licensing requirements on internal controls, such as maximum or minimum withdrawals a player can make at one time.

“For example, if a casino has a transaction limit of $2,000, we can set it at that amount,” Sackrison said. “On the other hand, we can set it at a minimum amount. A casino doesn’t want a player to take out just $3 to play a game.”

For at least for now, the technology will only be available at table games. ACS is pondering making it compatible with slot machines, but those plans appear to be far off in the future.

Right now, the ACS team is intent on marketing the product. PlayOn technology was introduced in December 2014 with little fanfare, as Warner and his staff quietly persuaded those in the gaming industry that PlayOn was a viable product. Warner, a veteran of more than three decades in the gaming industry in properties across the United States and abroad, has already gained credibility across the industry.

The company has marketed PlayOn mostly through cold calling and attending trade shows such as the G2E, a global gaming expo in Las Vegas.

It has also partnered with Vantiv, Inc., a payment processing and technology provider headquartered in Cincinnati, for among other things, to assist with marketing to financial institutions, and understanding regulations associated with the technology.

So far, they’ve received a positive reception for PlayOn. Warner said ACS has fostered a presence with a few California properties and is working on at least a dozen contracts with gaming institutions across other parts of North America.

“At first we were contacting them, now they are calling us,” Warner said. “We’re still in the embryonic stages of marketing PlayOn. We’re ramping up right now in Reno and have received a tremendous amount of response from mature gaming properties.”

The technology looks attractive to gaming properties as cash transactions are becoming less and less prevalent not only in gaming but other industries.

The technology has also accumulated interest from properties overseas, although the company is concentrating on properties in the United States and Canada. Eventually they plan to make a strong push globally.

Warner and Sackrison indicated some jurisdictions have restrictions on the type of technology they can use on properties. For instance, some don’t use ATM machines on their premises, so the prospect of using PlayOn at those properties is probably not an option yet. But as technology advances in the gaming industry, they are hopeful that some jurisdictions will loosen their reigns.

Warner had been working for a gaming property in Mississippi and left after Hurricane Katrina disrupted the region’s gaming industry. He ended up in northern Nevada working at the Peppermill. There, he saw a need for advanced technology in gaming.

Warner started ACS in 2007 and assembled a staff that includes Sackrison, who is a veteran of the finance industry. He first came across ACS when Warner was seeking added capital for his venture. Currently ACS has a staff of seven or eight. Warner and Sackrison estimate everybody has combined experience of 130 years in a variety of industries.

“We all wear a lot of hats, and we don’t have any egos around here,” Warner said.