Legally, casino chips count as money which is lent to you by the casino. Nevada Gambling Commission defines casino chips exactly like this. They have an owner: The casino. So chips are not an anonymous payment tool like Fiat currencies. They are valid only in the casino that issued them. You cannot use the chip of Casino A at Casino B. As a player, you are legally prohibited to use them for all other purposes outside of the casinos. Casino chips are like a loan that is given to you for gambling. Moreover, you cannot exchange them or “gift” them to another player: This is considered as illegal.
Sounds very “serious”, right? Well, this is the legal definition of casino chips, it is expected to sound serious. In this regard, casino free chips are a promotional tool. They have the same features of normal chips (and the same legal obligations), but they are freely given to you by the casino. Usually, this happens right at the entrance and the amount of casino free chips is very small: You get 10 to 20 USD worth of chips, maximum. The reason behind this promotion is simple: To incentivize you to spend those chips on tables and continue gambling by getting more.
As for their use, they represent the bets of the players. Instead of putting paper money to the table, you simply put chips that represent a specific amount. Why? Because chips are easier to count. They have colour codes according to the amounts they represent. For example, a 10 USD chip is blue. A 100 USD chip, on the other hand, is red. The croupier can take a look and see how much money is on the table. Moreover, the casino does not have to deal with the problem of counterfeit money. Casino chips make things easier for the casino management.
CAN YOU MAKE A FORGERY OF A CASINO CHIP?
Simply put, no. In fact, forging the US dollar is easier. There are two categories of casino chips nowadays: The ones that contain an RFID chip inside and the ones that are made from ceramic and clay composite. It is impossible to forge the ones with the RFID chips. This is an electronic component which guarantees the authenticity of the chip. In theory, you can forge the other chips made with clay/ceramic, but this is a very hard thing to do. Their formula is different at each casino and kept as a secret. It is nearly impossible to match the same size and weight. Moreover, these chips also have ultraviolet markings, brands, and serial numbers. Even if you manage to match the same weight, you cannot forge these features.
The History of the “Jeton”
Casinos always used chips, right from the beginning. They were called “jeton” back in those days. However, the casino chips we use today appeared during 1880. Before that, chips were looking like paper tickets. It was easy to counterfeit them. To solve this problem, casinos decide to design a round chip and use clay as the material. They were very hard to counterfeit since producing them required special equipment. Although there was still a problem: Clay casino chips were fragile and broke easily. Even the players were breaking them while holding – a strong grip turned these chips into dust.
Casinos started to add other materials to chips during the 1950’s. They became much harder. Moreover, casinos started to paint them during the same time frame. Until 1980’s, casino chips were made from clay composite. After that, they started to be produced from ceramic.
Nowadays, casino chips are made from ceramic or a composite material, it depends on the casino. The formula for both is a well-kept trade secret in order to prevent forgery. A standard casino chip usually weighs 8 to 10 grams. It always contains the logo of the casino. If you cut a chip in half, there will be lots of layers attached to each other. A casino chip contains more than 50 layers and all of these get compressed at 10.000 PSI.
CAN I LEAVE THE CASINO WITHOUT CASHING OUT THE CHIPS?
In theory, yes. In practice, don’t do that. While legally you can cashin at a later date, casinos can use many “tricks” to prevent that. Simply put, they do not want you to leave the casino with chips in your pockets. This is why they change the design of the chips on a constant basis. If your chips are different than the current ones, the casino may refuse to exchange them for real money. Moreover, the FRID components inside the chips may render them useless as soon as you step out from the casino, to prevent forgery. In short, you should cash in your coins as soon as possible and while still inside the casino.
How to Use Casino Chips
If you got them at the entrance for free, simply move to a table and start to gamble. Putting a chip on a table tells the croupier you have placed a bet on a specific outcome. For example, if you put a chip onto the “red 12” section of a roulette table, you have placed a bet for that outcome.
If you walked into the casino with no chips, head to the cashier and buy them with real money. They are exchanged on a 1:1 rate, so to buy 1.000 USD worth of chips, you need 1.000 USD in cash.
WHAT IS EXONUMIA?
This means “collecting casino chips”. It is a hobby similar to numismatics, like coin collecting. Exonumia may be a very profitable hobby. Some old casino chips can be sold as high as 100.000 USD. eBay has more than 20.000 casino chips for sale and according to their rarity and condition, they can make you a rich person. For example, a casino chip form the Golden Goose casino has been recently sold for 52.500 USD. The chip itself was worth 5 USD.
Color Codes of Chips
The color codes of casino chips are determined by the gambling laws. In Nevada, chips that are worth up to 1 USD may be colourless. However, chips that are worth 5 USD and more must be always in color. In this respect, 20 USD chips are in yellow and 1.000 USD chips are in orange color. The highest amount of chips that the ordinary players can see is 5.000 USD. There are chips that represent a higher value than that (up to 25.000 USD) but they are available only in VIP rooms. You need to be invited to that room in order to play with those high-valued chips.