Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020 | 2 a.m.
The owner of a small Las Vegas casino has created a system for players to quickly establish a line of credit and access it directly at a slot machine with their rewards card.
Gary Ellis, the namesake of Ellis Island, created Marker Trax in 2018 and has been testing the system at his off-Strip casino on Koval Lane.
“A number of years ago, back when we were just a slot house, I remember a guy came to the cage and drew on his line of credit,” Ellis said. “I watched him take the $1,000 in cash and walk right out the door. That’s kind of where the idea came from.”
The system will debut soon at Morongo, a tribal casino in Cabazon, Calif., and the company has been in contact with most big U.S. casino operators, Ellis said.
“We have 30 or 40 casinos already signed up,” he said. “It can be used for slots, table games, basically across the board.”
As soon as he heard about the concept, Charlie Skinner, a longtime gaming industry executive and former International Game Technology employee, knew it was a winner. Today, Skinner is the chief operating officer for Marker Trax.
The system allows players to qualify for a line of credit in as little as five minutes, Skinner said. “Traditionally, that could take a couple of hours, or even days, with all the paperwork,” he said.
Marker Trax also takes the burden of monitoring individual accounts off the casinos, he said. “We handle all the billing and collection on their behalf,” Skinner said.
Earlier this year, Marker Trax partnered with slots-maker Konami Gaming to roll out the first trials of the system at Ellis Island.
D’Ante Garner, a member of Ellis Island’s Passport player’s club, said he likes that he no longer has to go to the ATM for cash.
“I believe it’s the future,” Garner said.
Marker Trax also got a boost during the pandemic with increased interest in cashless and touchless payment options.
“Cashless is such a good thing in so many ways,” Ellis said. “When I was growing up, I was always told that money is one of the dirtiest things you can touch.”
Most casino companies Marker Trax has approached have plans to introduce cashless systems “in some form or fashion,” Skinner said.
“Pre-COVID, that certainly wasn’t the case,” he said. “I think that’s a good thing for the industry. Look at your Starbucks app or Apple Pay…We’re moving toward being more efficient everywhere.”
“We don’t know where this could go, but it’s been fun so far,” Ellis said.