Casino chip counterfeits

In another thread, someone mentioned that casinos in Vegas issue chips in denominations up to $1000 (or more?). That’s more than US currency is made in. People counterfeit that, so they must try to counterfeit casino chips.

What kind of anticounterfeit features do the casino chips have? I’ve never been to Nevada and don’t think I’ve ever seen a casino chip. Are there any obvious features that would be difficult to reproduce? Do they include any non-obvious features such as RFID tags?

Some of the larger demoninations do. I know that most of the chips I’ve seen glow under an ultraviolet light, and when you turn in a significant stack of chips the cashier will check for that.

I haven’t been in a casino in some time, so I’m sure other Dopers will have more info.

Some of the casinos use RFID tags inside their chips. One time I sat at a black jack table and after everyone placed there bets in the betting area, the dealer would press a button with a light. If it turns green she proceeds and deals the cards. I have never seen it turn any other color. When I asked her what it was all about, she explain the RFID tags in the chips. And for those familiar with a black jack table, this was NOT the small black triangle mounted on the table in front of the dealer that reads the cards and tells if a dealer has a 21. This was a separate device, mounted on the side of the table ans scanned the betting area in front of each player.

On a side note, I worked in the security industry in 2000 and was intimately familiar with RFID cards and access systems. One of our tricks was to take apart the system badges, remove the copper spool and chip and ball it up and stick it in our clothes or shoes or whatever. To open a door all we would do is wave that object/bodypart/whatever in front of the reader and open the door. We entertain easily. The point is that the equipment was capable and cheap in 2000, it can only have gotten much more sophisticated since then.


An interesting aspect is the use of tracking systems to read where all the money is circulating. You could determine where all the $500 chips are being used, who they’re being used by and other information. All that data could be very useful in tailoring the casinos business practices to maximize profit. I suppose you could easily keep track of individuals by their chips.

Yup, RFID it is. Play at the Wynn and they don’t even have to count your chips… Plop them on the dark plastic pad and the cashier has a digital readout indicating how much cash they have to fork over.

They’re not that easy to counterfeit. They’re made of clay and the machinery to make them is not that common

Passing counterfeit $1000 chips doesn’t seem like it would be that fun either, except one at a time. Otherwise you run into a few issues, like extra scrutiny, excessive amounts of $100 bills, and hitting the IRS reporting limit.

I’ve never been in a casino in my life, but in the movies, when someone does something wrong in a casino, the manager casually instructs a collection of burly men to kick the shit out of the offender.

Does that sort of thing ever happen in real life? If so, it might be something of a deterrent.

Even if it’s not true (more likely, the burly guys detain you until the cops arrive), it’s in the casinos’ interest to maintain the public perception.

But that doesn’t make sense.
What does the green light indicate? Certainly it couldn’t indicate that there were no fake chips, how could an RFID reader search for an absence of legitimate chips?

It could if there was built-in scale. “Weight placed on table equals 15 chips, but RFID signals come from 14 - red light”. Or something like that.

So what happens when you get chips with broken RFID chips? Say they were in your pocket during a CT scan or something…

You mean when the electronics are malfunctioning?

i.e. when the chips are down?

/me groans.

People don’t take chips with them that often, IMO.

Assuming that did happen, however, I’m sure it could be traded in for a good one after an inspection. The thing is, if you just counterfeited some chips, the LAST thing you want is for Guido and the boys to take a really close look at it.


I’d imagine they locate the non-responding ones (searching by halving, I bet) and examine them more closely - swapping out any genuine-but-broken ones and breaking someone’s legs in the other cases.

Well, they probably wouldn’t stay in your pocket once the magnet powers up (or is that an MRI) :wink:

Anyhow, hospital gowns don’t have pockets, so those chips have to be …

somewhere else…

and I doubt that the cashier will take them after that sort of storage, anyhow.


Which works out for the player as well. By tracking your table play more accurately than just being rated by the pit boss, you’ll probably get comped more often. Generally, they don’t care if you’re up or down, they just want to keep the money flowing.

Unless you’re the kind of player who works to maximize his comps by betting more heavily when the pit boss is around.

An earlier thread on the same topic, from three years ago.

Casinos do not break your legs. Way back in the day, when the mob handled things, they might have done some thuggery on lowlifes trying to cheat the casino. But certainly not if they were tourist types. (What, you want to break the legs of some guy and have that wind up across the news back home? Yeah, great PR.)

These days, the casinos are corporate creatures. They’re just business entities and they aren’t even going to go that far.