Casinos Market Cashless Betting to Tracks

An Indian nation in upstate New York has begun marketing a successful, cashless betting system used at its casino to racetracks, and it says the system could revolutionize the pari-mutuel industry.

"This is something the racing industry needs for a shot in the arm," said Frank Riolo, chief operating officer of Turning Stone Casino, located near Syracuse and owned by the Oneida Indian Nation. "Racetracks can take some advice from the casino industry as far as marketing and player relations, and how to capture information about its customers."

The new system, developed using a Turning Stone affiliate and Las Vegas-based Sigma Game, gives players a debit card that can be used at a betting terminal or with a traditional cashier; money could be deposited into the card's account daily or at the start of a meet
The system is designed for use at tracks with slot machines or video lottery terminals, as well as those with just pari-mutuel betting. Turning Stone officials said they have been in contact with a number of tracks around the country interested in the new system. Officials declined to discuss costs.

Officials said bettors will be attracted to the cashless style of betting, which has been used successfully at the Turning Stone casino for the past five years. Turning Stone, to abide by New York law that bans slot machines, is able to offer slot-like games by offering the debit-card system for its 1,450 machines.

Riolo said the system will allow racetracks to monitor bettors over the course of a day or a year. Riolo, a longtime casino industry executive and former Thoroughbred owner, said the upstate New York racetrack he goes to two times a week has no idea who he is or how much he's betting.

"So if I'm betting a lot, they don't know to buy me a free meal," he said. "This allows a track to really understand your player, to know your player and his needs, and to know the value of that player to you as an operator and to create loyalty."

He said the system, which recently had its first order sent to an Indian casino in Washington state, can be designed to work with any track's wagering system.