Back during the birth of Las Vegas as a casino city in the 1950s, it would’ve been fair to joke that one method of payment was blood. The casinos often had mob or big crime ties, and it wasn’t uncommon for people who tried to cheat the system to end up paying with their lives. Luckily, today’s casino payment methods are . . . a little less brutal.
The most common method of paying at casinos is with cash, of course. Cash in hand is good to literally any casino—it’ll get you poker chips, it’ll get you slot tokens, it’ll get you booze and food . . . Cash is good. Casinos like cash because it’s promised money right in front of them.
Some casinos will take credit cards as payment for chips as well, but remember, if you’re buying chips with a credit card and then you lose that money playing . . . you still have to pay off the credit card, plus interest, so you’ll be paying interest on something for which you’ve gained nothing. There are some casinos that will not take credit cards.
Debit cards have a little more leeway, since they pull money directly out of your account, with no holding fee or interest charged.
The one thing casinos have stopped taking across the board is personal checks. While checks have gone out of fashion thanks to the abundance of credit and debit card technology, the inherent risk businesses could face by still accepting them has driven many to put a ban on them altogether—including casinos.
If a check bounces, it’s then the casino’s problem to hunt down the person who wrote it, and it’s not impossible for someone to write a bogus check while they’re on vacation and then simply vanish, never to be seen again. Because checks pose a danger to casinos for the potential loss of money, they’re refused.
Taking cash includes coins—you can use quarters in most, if not all coin slots. Casinos may offer tokens, but they are generally the value of quarters anyway, and machines are geared to take both.
For high rollers or tournaments that have high buy-in prices, direct wire transfers from banks may be accepted, but chances are the casino will have to make special arrangements for this to happen, so don’t expect to walk into a brand new casino or walk into a casino on vacation and simply have your proposed wire transfer accepted.
One of the newest and most tentative forms of payment at casinos is Bitcoin. As CBS reported in January of 2014, the Golden Gate and the D casino began accepting bitcoins as payment for hotel rooms, food, and drinks. The D also accepts Bitcoin as payment in its souvenir shop.
Neither of the two casinos have begun accepting Bitcoin as payment for chips, but as the cryptocurrency becomes more popular and because the casinos are already starting to integrate it as payment for other services, it’s a safe bet to assume that casinos may soon start taking it as payment for chips.
Bottom line: cash is always best. Also, don’t bet your car. Seriously.