How to Spot Fake Casino Chips

When you enter a casino, the first thing you do before playing any game is exchange money for chips. Casino chips are essentially small clay/ceramic coins, but they represent real money. Thus, many crooks find chips appealing, as a way of ripping off a casino.

What most casinos do not tell you is that you’re more likely to get away with creating counterfeit bills than you are with fake casino chips. Casinos keep an eye on all chips and know exactly how to spot fake ones. In this article, we give an insight into some of the methods used by casinos around the world.

How to Spot Fake Casino Chips

There are many different aspects to consider when spotting a fake casino chip. One of the key characteristics of a single chip is the texture and weight. Typically, casino chips are either clay or ceramic. They are known to weight between 8.5 and 11 grams.

Casino chips also have a unique colour. The very shade and appearance of the chip has to be in sync with all the other chips the casino provides. Typically, casinos tend to stick to these basic colours for their chips.

  • White or Blue - $1
  • Red “Nickels” - $5
  • Green “Quarters” - $25
  • Black - $100
  • Purple “Barneys” - $500
  • Orange “Pumpkins” - $1,000

The colours above are not a global key for all casinos but most in the United States tend to stick to this colour code. Sometimes, a fake chip can appear almost identical to a real casino chip. The only way of telling them apart is by placing them next to each other to see the difference in shade.

In addition to this, casinos also tend to use a unique stamp on their chips. The stamp can be practically anything but it must make the chip unique. One example of this is a tiny marking that can only be seen with a magnifying glass. This tiny detail makes it very difficult for crooks to perfectly replicate a casino chip. The chip also tends to include the logo of the casino it belongs to on it.

If you or a casino come across a chip that does not have any logo on it, you will immediately know that something is not right. However, at times, you may come across casino chips that have the logo of another casino. If this happens, it does not necessarily mean that the casino chips are fake. Some casinos use “foreign chips” that belong to other casinos. This only happens if the same company owns both establishments.

Casino Tricks to Spot Fake Chips

Counterfeit casino chips have been around for ages. The thought of ripping off a casino by bringing in your own fake chips is not a new one. If done correctly, it is easy money to cash in without playing any game or risking losing. The only risk taken is being caught and thrown into prison.

Therefore, because casinos are used to being targeted by criminals, they take many precautions in ensuring that they catch anyone who tries to pull off a heist. The majority of crooks that use fake casino chips tend to only use low value ones. That means anything below $25. Casinos keep track of their higher value casino chips, thus making it harder to get away with a crime. Nowadays, casinos use a variety of cameras, UV markings and RFID Technology to survey what happens on the casino floor.  

Monitoring Cameras

One thing you may notice on your next casino visit is that the gambling house has cameras virtually everywhere on the casino floor. The cameras are running 24/7 and are monitored at all times by staff. Every single table has a camera above it that looks at each player and how they play the game. They also keep an eye on the steps that a player takes, from exchanging money into chips, to playing, to leaving the table and eventually cashing out. With camera surveillance, the security staff are able to keep tabs on any dodgy behaviour, should anything surface.

UV Markings

Whilst many casinos use certain markings – such as logos or tiny hallmarks – the majority of casinos put UV ink on their casino chips. This ink can only be seen under a UV light. It is a very quick and easy way to tell if someone is using a real or fake casino chip.

RFID Technology

Lastly, casinos tend to keep tabs on their chips with RFID technology. This is a security tag which is embedded into the casino chip, so that the gambling house is able to track the activity of the chip. With RFID technology, casinos are able to monitor the whereabouts of casino chips, even the ones that have been stolen. One of the major benefits that security tags provide is identifying transactions made at each table. The casinos can keep an eye on RFID chips thanks to scanning devices.

What to do if you find a chip?

In the off chance that you find a casino chip, do not tempt fate by keeping it. Unfortunately, casinos do not believe in “finders-keepers.” 

If you happen to stumble on a casino chip, return it to the casino. The reason being that most casinos are very strict when it comes to finding missing chips. Should a customer fail to return a lost and found chip, they could be seen as stealing the chip. It all depends on the regulations the casino has.

Many players do not know about the strict rules on returning missing casino chips. They may pocket them or even proceed to play with the chips at a table. Whilst some casinos do not have rules on lost and found chips, the majority do. This could end up with being banned from the casino or even thrown out.

Many admirers and collectors of antique casino chips pay good cash for rare and unique chips. A rare or unique chip is usually one from a closed down casino. Some scammers try and create counterfeit casino chips to steal from a collector. Although, they are not successful in doing so.

These collectors know exactly what chip they are looking for. Thus, a crook with a fake chip is not going to pull a fast one on them. It is assumed that collectors of rare chips can spot fake ones just as well as a casino can!

Why Using Fake Chips Could Go Wrong

In 2019, Ronnie E. Lewis, a Rochester local, was arrested on the charge of trying to exchange fake chips at a casino. The then 62-year-old entered the Del Lago Resort and Casino in New York, with the sole intention of cashing in $600 worth of fake casino chips. He was arrested by New York Troopers at the scene of the crime.

Lewis was testing out his scheme and it has been noted that if he was successful, he would continue to dupe the casino out of thousands of dollars. His charges for arrest were second-degree of criminal possession of a forged instrument and the use of unlawful gaming property. Both of these are felonies. His jail time for these crimes is up to 7 years incarcerated.

Closing Remarks

Although casinos take many precautionary steps in protection and security, there are still thieves out there who try to use fake chips. The United States is one of the strictest when it comes to using counterfeit chips. Casinos in the US are known to throw crooks in jail for between 6-10 years if caught. On top of that, they could also face fines of up to $10,000 per crime.

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