Posted on: January 6, 2021, 09:39h.
Last updated on: January 6, 2021, 10:51h.
Shares of gaming device manufacturer International Game Technology (NYSE:IGT) surged Wednesday. That’s after the company won a patent that would allow gamblers to use digital currencies, such as bitcoin, on slot machines.
The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) granted IGT a patent that would permit gamblers to move cryptocurrency from their smartphones onto slot machines and back again if they opt to claim winnings in crypto form.
When executed by the gaming establishment component processor responsive to an initiation of a cryptocurrency transfer event associated with an amount of cryptocurrency, the instructions cause the gaming establishment component processor to communicate data associated with a gaming establishment account associated with a player,” according to the IGT patent filing. “When executed by the gaming establishment component processor responsive to a completion of the cryptocurrency transfer event, the instructions cause the gaming establishment component processor to modify the gaming establishment account based on the amount of cryptocurrency.”
The IGT document most frequently uses the vernacular “cryptocurrency,” of which there are nearly 4,200, according to CoinMarketCap.com. However, just two are mentioned specifically in the filing: bitcoin and ethereum, also known as ether. By market capitalization, those are by the two largest digital assets.
Momentum for Cashless Gaming
Should IGT bring the bitcoin payment option to live slots in casinos, it would mark a watershed moment for the industry’s cashless gaming efforts, for which there’s already ample momentum.
Last year, the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) took the first step toward broader reduction of cash use in casinos, approving rules that make it easier for gamblers to electronically transfer funds from bank to casino accounts.
While the composition of US currency — 75 percent cotton and 25 percent linen — isn’t known to be an adequate conduit for spreading the coronavirus, the pandemic is nonetheless sparking significant adoption of contactless payments across an array of industries, including gaming. Market observers believe that trend will remain sticky after COVID-19 is a thing of the past.
On Tuesday, IGT said it completed the final stage of Nevada regulatory approval for its Resort Wallet cashless payment system. The maker of the popular Megabucks and Wheel of Fortune slots, among others, says the product “enables players to use a loyalty card to transfer cash into a secure digital wallet from either the casino cash desk or any Resort Wallet-enabled slot machine.”
Appealing to Younger Players
By making crypotcurrency a valid payment option for slot play, manufacturers such as IGT and integrated resort operators can potentially appeal to a younger clientele.
In recent years, concerns arose regarding the ability of the brick-and-mortar casino companies to connect with the tech-savvy millennial and Gen Z demographics, and crypto could be one avenue for doing just that. Research confirms younger investors are among the most likely to back digital currencies.
News of IGT’s patent win arrives with bitcoin flirting with the $35,000 level, an all-time high. The largest cryptocurrency more than quadrupled in value last year, and is up 24.40 percent over the past seven days.