Chips and paper money are being circulated among hundreds of hands on the casino floor. People who like to gamble witness the live-large vibe of Las Vegas being ferried in bags bulging with currency. Las Vegas’ casino industry has been a stronghold of cash in the ever-growing cashless world. It’s an everyday phenomenon at Las Vegas casinos to see massive stacks of dollars being secured into vaults.
Nevada, especially Las Vegas, doesn’t allow digital payments on casino floors. But that could change sooner than later. Casino customers were asking for this cashless option before COVID-19. The rationale behind the request was convenience and control. Casino customers could hypothetically set a spending limit or spend with abandon.
When casinos reopened on June 4, 2020, one common thought for stemming the COVID-19 virus was the proposed adoption of touchless options to reduce the chance of spreading disease.
Money “Laundering” Takes on New Meaning
Dealers are wearing masks behind plexiglass shields and sanitizer is at the ready for both chips and hands. Workers are standing by to disinfect slot machines, kiosks, and even elevator buttons as soon as contact is made. Some casinos even considered handing out plastic sticks for pressing elevator and slot machine buttons.
Virtual chips? That doesn’t sound too exciting. Part of the thrill of winning at gaming tables and slots is hearing the cadence of coins and chips sounding off!
So, is it ok to bet with paper money if it is adequately sanitized? It is a risk vs. reward dilemma.
The large number of players and dealers who may touch chips daily make typical cleaning schedules insufficient to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Simultaneously, disinfecting chips or even using disposable chips can only go so far, since they traverse so many hands.
Cleaning paper money is possible with Ultraviolet (UV) light and high heat. (Roberts 2020) What we need to remember is that surfaces don’t spread the coronavirus – people do. Germ-ridden hands are the culprit. Taking people out of gambling isn’t the solution.
For gamblers who wage bigger bets, it is best to do a wire transfer to the casino you will stay at or play at if you want to gamble with more significant amounts (>$2000). Credit cards often have a limit on what you can withdraw in a specific period. By making an advance transfer of cash on deposit, guests can quickly contact the hotel, and they can release funds to you on the gambling floor. Be smart and keep loose cash secured in your in-room safe.
CDC Recommendations for Casino Money
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends “tap-and-pay to limit the handling of cash” as part of proper hygiene measures to prevent any infection of COVID-19. Given this new initiative, state legislatures and gaming regulators may be more motivated to permit mobile payments or digital wallets to curb the spread of viral infections. (Brewer, 2020)
The CDC has given more guidelines in which casinos and gaming operators can help protect staff and customers and slow the spread of COVID-19. Casinos and gaming operations can determine, in collaboration with local, state, territorial, federal, or tribal health officials, whether and how to implement these considerations, adjusting to meet the needs and circumstances of the local community. (CDC, NCIRD, 2020)
Too Much of a Good Thing
Until today, no one would have ever considered gambling with cash a health risk. Maybe as a kid we considered putting a coin in our mouth at the disdain of our mother, but money was low on the scale of health risks. We live in a new world, post-COVID-19 and beyond. We remain vigilant as our scientific community labors to find a treatment or cure for COVID-19. Virus transmission hasn’t changed. Humans transmit to humans with contact, in a cough or a sneeze. Continue to create health and safety for yourself and for others. Wash your hands, wear a mask and stay socially distanced. Remember Elite Care Las Vegas on the Strip has you covered whether you suspect you have the COVID-19 virus or any other medical emergency. We’re open 24/7 365 days to get you back to your lucky streak!
Brewer, C. (2020, June 16). Coronavirus may sway regulators to allow casinos to say good-bye to cash. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/16/coronavirus-may-sway-regulators-to-allow-casinos-to-say-good-bye-to-cash.html
Roberts, Marilyn. “You Don’t Need to Worry about Spreading the Coronavirus with Cash.” The Conversation. University of Washington, (21 May 2020).
Komenda, E. (2020, May 07). Nevada casinos will look different when they reopen. Here’s what you need to know. https://www.rgj.com/story/news/2020/05/07/coronavirus-nevada-las-vegas-casinos-reopening-guidelines-after-covid-19/3089482001/
“About Cash in Las Vegas.” In Las Vegas. (21 July 2020). http://www.lasvegasstrip.net/tips/cash
Silverstein, E. (2020, March 16). Casino Chips Pose Potential Health Risk as Coronavirus Spreads. https://www.casino.org/news/dirty-casino-chips-pose-potential-health-risk-as-coronavirus-spreads/