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Casino Chips: How to Spot a Fake
When we play in our favourite casinos, we exchange our real money for chips. And whilst these tokens might feel plastic, they are still considered a form of currency. This makes the chips attractive to criminals who still try to produce counterfeits. Amazingly enough, casino croupiers often state that it’s an easier task to make fake money than chips these days.
But what do you look for when you are playing? What do you do if you find a bunch of casino chips? In this article, we will give you the full lowdown on how to protect yourself and what the casinos do to keep you safe. We’ll also let you know how counterfeiting criminals are dealt with in the USA.
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You might think that all chips have a standard weight, but this is a myth. Weights vary between casinos and some chips can tip the scales at 11 grams whilst others can be 8.5 grams. Chips are generally made from a mixture of clay and other materials.
Casinos generally tend to stick to the following colours for their chip denominations:
- White/Blue - $1
- Red - $5
- Green - $25
- Black - $100
- Purple - $500
- Orange - $1,000
With hundreds of different shades of each of these colours, it’s pretty hard to fake the right one. You can easily check a fake chips colour against a real one and you’ll soon see the difference.
Every casino has a unique stamp for its chips, which shows where they come from. The quality of these graphics is a big telltale sign of the authenticity of the chip. You might need a magnifying glass though as some fakers have exceptional skills, but dodgy chips will never be 100% perfect.
Chips without any logos on them will be an instant sign that something isn’t right. If you visit a casino with chips from another establishment you may be able to cash these in. ‘Foreign Chips’ are often accepted if the casino is owned by the same operator.
How do Casinos Spot Fake Casino Chips?
Over the years casinos have gotten wise and now employ various methods to stay in front of the crooks.
As a general rule, the highest value casino chips are tracked by casinos to see where they end up. This means that you're most likely to come across fakes worth less than $25.
- Camera Surveillance - Every angle of every inch of a casino floor is covered by surveillance cameras. These are then monitored 24/7 by large teams of security staff. Constantly checking players and live croupiers, cameras can track deposits, gameplay, and cashouts from start to finish.
- UV Markings - Casino chips are usually marked with UV ink which only shows up under a UV light. A quick and easy way to tell if you are holding a fake or not.
- RFID Technology - These are security tags that are inserted into the chips which are trackable by casinos. Allowing the establishments to not only keep an eye on stolen chips but to track floor activity. Enabling them to quickly check if a table is losing or winning and to see if transactions are correct.
Casinos use special scanning devices to detect RFID chips.
Finders Keepers, Right?
If you come across chips laying on the floor of a casino, don’t pocket them! Honesty is the best policy, simply hand them in to the casino to which they belong. Most casinos have strict rules on this and helping yourself to a chip could be seen as stealing.
Often players will try and use these chips at tables, as the croupier has no idea where they have come from. Some of the top casinos will not have such strict rules for lost and found chips though. This often sees players on their hands and knees searching the floor for lost coins which could lead to them being banned or thrown out.
Collectors pay heaps of cash for rare and antique casino chips. But if you think it’s hard to fool a casino with a counterfeit chip, these guys really know their stuff. And will scrutinise the goods before handing over their money.
To Fake or Not to Fake?
Even with all the measures which casinos take against fakes, there are still criminals out there who try to be one step ahead. In the USA if you are caught trying to use counterfeit chips you can face felony charges resulting in up to 6 years in jail. As well as fines of up to $10K per count - crime definitely doesn’t pay, even if you are just faking low-value chips.
Leonard Martin Stone was convicted by the Nevada State Gaming Control Board in 2004 for cashing in fake casino chips. It certainly didn’t help Stone's case as he was caught in possession of his counterfeiting equipment at the same time. Unlucky!
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