New Lawsuit over Cashless Gambling Could Disrupt the Gaming Industry

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Cashless gambling is all the rage at casinos across the US and other countries. Propelled, in part, by the COVID-19 pandemic and the desire to reduce physical money transactions, thought to spread the virus, more casinos began introducing cashless options at their gaming tables and slot machines. Sightline Payments has been a pioneer in the field, but isn’t the only company to get involved. However, at least one of the other companies, according to Sightline, stole its IP and will now have to prove its innocence in court.

Sightline and Everi Holdings Get in the Ring

Sightline has made its mark on the Vegas gaming scene, introducing cashless options at a handful of casinos in the city. It has been successful enough to reach Unicorn status, but its success could be undermined by copycats. According to Sightline, per a lawsuit it filed in Texas at the end of last month, Everi Holdings has introduced a cashless option that directly infringes on five of its patents.

According to The Nevada Independent, Sightline, which has a partnership with IGT, Resorts World Las Vegas and others, has 35 patents for its technology, as well as another 23 applications filed with the US Patent & Trademark Office that are still waiting for a response. The lawsuit states, in part, “The asserted patents involve technologies that allow for cashless transactions used in casino gaming offerings and non-gaming spend. These inventions were originally developed by Kirk Sanford, Thomas Sears, and Omer Sattar — all co-founders of Sightline. The inventors of the asserted patents recognized that the field could benefit from improved systems and methods for cashless wagering and redemption.”

The Battle for Control

Everi has quickly garnered a share of the cashless gaming market, as well, signing agreements with Aristocrat and others. The lawsuit is likely more about market control than actual IP infringement, as there are previous examples of debates that were based more on having an advantage in the market than the technology used. The slot machine market saw similar battles in the past, although they were all rejected for not having merit. One such case was the frivolous attempt by Bally and IGT Technology to sue each other over the inclusion of a bonus round after certain combinations of reels hit.

Unfortunately, the debate over who controls the cashless market isn’t likely to subside anytime soon. Todd Eilers of Eilers & Krejcik Gaming told The Nevada Independent that cashless options are the latest trend by almost all gaming technology companies and added, “Cashless is something everyone is focused on. I suspect that you will see a lot of intellectual property lawsuits going forward.”

Both Sightline and Everi assert that they are ready to defend their positions in court, and the battle could grow even larger. Everi general counsel Kate Lowenhar-Fisher warned that the company is going to “mount a number of claims” of its own against its rival.

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