How Does Cashless Gaming Work?

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Carnival Cruise Line cashless gaming hero image

An observant player noticed that Brian was using cashless gaming offerings on his Brian Christopher Slots Cruises with Carnival. They were curious to know more about how it works:

When on a cruise, you have your money on a card. Is it a players card, room card or bank card? If it’s a players card or room card, how do you get your money at the end of the cruise?


We’re going to focus first on the cruise line scenario, and then expand out, as Brian’s also been using cashless systems at properties like Yaamava’ in California in recent months.

With Carnival, as with other cruise lines, your cruise line card is your everything – it’s your room key, it’s your dining pass, it’s your casino players card. You charge everything to the room with it and it’s linked to your room folio and the card attached to that folio. This includes your casino play.

So, you use the same card as your room card – it’s not a bank card. You enter a PIN to perform transactions to download money, and when you cash out, the money is returned to your card instead of printing a ticket. 

This reduces the amount of items being inserted into the machine, and therefore reducing the need to do cash drops on the machines mid cruise, which you might see land casinos doing nightly, often in the wee hours of the morning.

To get your money, you would visit the cashier in most cases, although Carnival has recently been introducing kiosks that allow you to withdrawal the cash on your card instead of visiting the sometimes lengthy cashier lines.

In land based casinos, some are now letting you do cashless gaming in a similar way, just using your players card. You download the money to the machine using a PIN just as you could on a cruise ship.

Loading money works a bit differently – you can do so at the cashier or through a digital transfer from a bank account. Cashing out is similar – a visit to the cashier.

There’s pros and cons to the systems, but they do work to further relieve the amount of manual labor required with dealing with paper cash and tickets into machines, which will inevitably find their collectors full or their ticket printers empty. On cruise ships in particular, reducing that labor effort makes a casino more viable to run and maintain.

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