Death of a Casino Chip

April 25, 2020 at 9:00 am by Flora Knolton

casino chips
Casino chips are the casino’s form of currency when playing any game like poker, blackjack, roulette, and so on. It seems like a simple piece of plastic on the outside; however, it is packed with advanced technology on the inside to benefit the casinos.

Poker first took off during the nineteenth century in the Wild West of America. Poker chips hadn’t been developed yet and instead players would use valuable items like gold and gold dust to bet with. Gambling houses and saloons would give players pieces of clay, bone, or ivory to gamble with to keep track of what was being bet. Clay and bone, however, are easy to replicate and forge fakes.  This counterfeiting caused saloons and gambling houses to start branding their own unique symbols to differentiate them from the forgeries. This may have curbed some fraud, but people continued to create replicas up until the end of the nineteenth century when companies started to create uniform chips. These chips were made from clay and were one of the most recognizable characteristics of a casino.

Chips have progressed with society and the composition makeup of casino chips is currently harder to forge than American currency. To protect both patrons and the casinos themselves, security measures have always been put in place by casino owners. There were times when you couldn’t distinguish a counterfeit chip from a genuine one. However, with uprising of plastic and technology so much has changed. Casino chips are still branded with the casino’s name, but the technological advancement that has taken place inside of them is what’s really captivating through its evolution. RFID technology (radio frequency identification) involves putting microchips into the casino chips, allowing RFID readers to pick up their unique radio frequency. Modern chips also often contain unique serial numbers, complex ultraviolet markings, holograms, and microdots. Ultraviolet markings allow for tracking of chips without alarming or upsetting customers. Held under a blacklight the markings will appear. However, the RFID technology are the chips electronic tag that houses its data, monetary value, and activity, as well as the serial number. Chips will automatically become deactivated the moment they leave the premises. Generally, the value of chips can range between $1 and $5,000 between the varying chip colors.

Before any regulations were introduced in Nevada, casino chips regularly went to die in nearby lakes such as Lake Mead or built into the foundations of casinos upon their demolition for presumed superstitious reasons. Many have also been found in the deserts of Las Vegas melted, with just the metal inserts remaining. But technology has improved vastly since these means of disposing casino chips. Since, casinos must arrange the destruction of their chips according to expiration dates. When a casino chip’s expiration is coming to a close, it’s either sent back to the manufacturer or it is destroyed in-house with industrial disintegrators that grind them into a fine powder. They sometimes can end up in landfills after that, but many companies are currently managing to recycle some of the materials now.

It’s best to rely on destroying your game pieces like casino chips in-house rather than submitting them to potential fraud with third party vendors. Like any other media, each point of contact in a casino chip’s end-of-life journey exponentially increases the chance some sort of fraudulent activity may arise. Destroying casino chips in-house mitigates any potential threat from outside parties. Casinos throughout the world are using SEM equipment to destroy their used dice, chips, playing cards, ID badges, electronic keys, and more. Shredding high volumes of chips requires an industrial shredder that will grind them down to disintegrated powder. Here at SEM, we have NSA listed disintegrators that will suit all gaming destruction needs. Our Model 1012/5, perfect for a smaller settings, can handle optical media, gaming pieces like chips, paper, and a variety of media in various waste particle sizes. NSA rated at 600 lbs. per hours, our Model 23 disintegrator is ideal for those with a heavier volume of casino chips or various media alike. For extra heavy duty, high volume media disintegrating we recommend our Model 1436 which provides NSA rated destruction at 1,800 lbs. per hour. Depending on the needs of the casino, SEM has every device necessary to properly and efficiently disintegrate chips as intended since 1987.