Counterfeit Casino Chips


Intro

Since casino chips are a form of currency, there is always going to be a problem with people creating counterfeit chips in order to steal money from casinos. Casinos have always been very aware of these risks, and put a lot of effort into preventing any losses. Each casino uses a unique set of chips, even if that casino is part of a bigger casino company, and the chips they use have a few security features. Besides simple factors (such as distinct color combinations, highly-specialized markings, and intricate high-resolution artwork), the chips may incorporate advanced technology, such as RFID or ultra-violet markings.

Besides physical deterrents, the casinos employ various operating procedures to manage counterfeit risk. Many casinos keep a set of chips in reserve with an alternate design so that they can swap out all the old chips from the casino floor and replace them with the new sets. In many jurisdictions, casinos are required to have these alternate chips in reserve. In 2011, the Bellagio got robbed of $1.5 million of casino chips and managed to swap them out within an hour, relegating the stolen chips to being virtually worthless. Casinos are also not required to cash out any chips if they believe the person cashing them out is not the owner of the chips. A common example would be a stripper getting a $1,000 chip as a big tip, and then trying to cash it out at the casino. Sometimes the casinos won't take them in order to prevent money laundering.

There isn't too much data available about how large the casino chip counterfeiting problem is. The Nevada Gaming Commission gets about a dozen complaints each year relating to counterfeit chips. But because of the countermeasures employed by casinos and the heavy penalties by regulators, the financial losses due to counterfeit chips are usually small, and few criminals get away with it.

How easy would it be to rob a casino?

Many gamblers at some point have innocently wondered how difficult it would be steal from a casino by creating counterfeit chips. The truth is that itís just as difficult to create counterfeit casino chips as it is to create counterfeit money since the chips are manufactured using very specialized equipment. But besides the creation of the chips, I believe it would be more difficult to actually get away with using counterfeit chips than counterfeit money, because ALL casino employees are trained to identify counterfeit chips, while very few retail employees are trained (or even care enough) to identify fake currency.

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