Racetracks exist on cash transactions. Bettors plunk down currency at pari-mutuel windows or feed it into self-service machines. However, this traditional method of conducting business will change dramatically, just as advance deposit wagering companies now offer customers a variety of cashless ways to bet.

A recent article in Barron’s (“The End of Cash”) cited McKinsey & Company estimates to demonstrate that retail customers in the United States are increasingly paying for their purchases without tendering cash. While cash accounted for 36% of point-of-sale purchases in 2002, the figure dropped to about 29% in 2012 (31% of retail payments were made with debit cards and 30% with credit cards). In households with annual earnings exceeding $60,000, cash was used in only 2% of retail purchases.

Barron’s states: “Upscale merchants are doing away with cash registers in favor of hand-held devices, like the ones that are ubiquitous in Apple stores. Web-based retailers don’t take cash at all. And on the highways, even toll booths are fading. Waiting in the wings is a generation of kids that have grown up with debit cards, prepaid cards, and iTune accounts.”

At Gulfstream Park, near Miami, pari-mutuel clerks with handheld devices roam around to take wagers from customers who prefer not to visit a betting window or a self-service machine. This bet-processing technique is a precursor to what can be expected in the near future. Though currently the pari-mutuel clerks accept only cash from bettors, that is sure to change and the handling of money will no longer be necessary.

To illustrate, at Nordstrom’s, sales representatives walk about the store and complete purchase transactions by using mobile point-of-sale devices to swipe customers’ debit and credit cards. Major retailers and payment processors are eager to implement “near field communication” technology that enables customers to pay at point of purchase by waving their smartphones over a card reader.

Racetracks will gradually follow the societal trend away from doing business in cash. As with any new technology, bugs will need to be worked out. Visa, for example, encountered occasional problems at the 2012 London Olympics when it installed cashless payment machines. During the soccer matches at Wembley Stadium, the machines quit working, leaving long lines of fans trying to gain entry.

Copyright © 2013 The Blood-Horse. Used with permission.


  1. Bill., there are countless of pensioners who don’t understand this new technology of debit cards etc.. are they going to be left with a bunch of dollars in their hands.. and can’t buy anything.?

    Is the old fella with a certainty in the fourth race going to be denied a bet.?, speak up for the old..

  2. Tech companies like ours are developing and deploying ways to convert cash to electronic instruments on track to speed up and make more convenient the betting process. The young-ish crowds that we want at the track demand it. And, cash is still king at the track, by many.