Casino chips are a funny thing. For some, they represent their path to a fortune, if only they can get their decisions right on the casino floor. For others, they are little more than a souvenir, kept hold of in order to remember the time that they took on the casinos. For those that do choose to keep hold of them, the question rises about whether or not they can cash them in at a later date. There are also sorts of reasons why someone might keep hold of some casino chips, but can they then cash them in at another time if they want to?
Obviously there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to how casinos handle their chips. One venue in Las Vegas might have a completely different set of rules to another one in Macau, for example. As a result, all we can tell you is how most casinos around the world tend to handle their casino chips when it comes to people rocking up long after they won them and looking to change them for cash. Generally speaking, you’re likely to be ok, but that might well depend on just how long you’ve left it before bringing them back.
Taking Chips Home
In the vast majority of cases, there is no rule against talking your chips home with you. Ultimately, a chip is representative of a cash amount, so if someone chooses not to take their chip to the casher’s desk then they are not exchanging it for the cash that they are owed. As a result, the casino in question gets to keep hold of their cash in a tax-free state, which casinos are more than happy to do. Yes, if enough casino chips go missing then it will cost the casino money to replace them, but realistically, that’s unlikely to happen.
Casinos are also not too worried if you take them home because, if you do, there’s a decent chance that you’ll lose them. As with winning lottery tickets, casino chips are useless if they’re not cashed in, so if they take a wander then you’re unlikely to ever be able to cash them in. As we’ll look at in more detail shortly, casino chips also expire, so if you fail to cash them in in time then you’ll be in a position where you simply won’t be able to swap them for real-life cash, meaning you’ll be left with a largely useless piece of plastic.
Why You’d Want to Take Chips Home
Typically speaking, there are very few reasons why you’d want to take casino chips home with you. The most obvious reasons are things such as wanting a souvenir to remember your trip by, or to give as a gift to someone else. In those sorts of cases, you’ll want to ensure that the denomination is quite low, given that high denominations are ones that you’ll want to cash out as soon as you can. Not only that, but if you take home too many chips then you might be asked to prove that you’re the one that actually won them.
This is all because of anti-money laundering procedures, which require casinos to ensure that the know where a bettor’s money has come from. You rocking up with £10,000 worth of chips and no proof of where they came from will be treated as extremely suspicious by any casino in the world. Even so, you might have reached the end of your playing day, grown tired and decided to go back to your hotel room or head home, accompanied by the chips that you had either bought or won during your spell on the casino floor.
You take your chips with you, fully intending to head back to the casino the following day in order to carry on betting, only for you to fall ill before you have a chance to get back on the casino floor. Perhaps your flight is the next day and you therefore need to rush to the airport and don’t have time to cash your chips out for money, meaning that you have to take them home with you. None of that is outlandish and is more than possible, so what can you do but keep your chips safe and get them back to the casino as soon as possible?
The Etiquette for Keeping Chips
There is no question that casinos aren’t too worried about people keeping hold of their chips, for reasons outlined already. Even so, there is something of an etiquette to be followed by those that do wish to take some chips home with them. There is, for example, a practice known as ‘Going South’, which is when players involved in communal games, such as poker, put their casino chips out of sight of other players. This isn’t good practice, given that they might be making calls based on how many chips they think you have left.
Imagine putting £50’s worth of chips in your pocket, being raised by the £30 that you have on the table and then producing the £50 from nowhere to go over-the-top. It wouldn’t be well received by your fellow players, so if you’re thinking of pocketing some chips then make sure you’re not in the middle of a game when you do so. Equally, pocketing money means that there’ll be less available for the other players to win than there was at the start of the game. It is just poor form, so it’s worth bearing that in mind.
Why You Probably Won’t Want To
Thinking of reasons why you might want to take your chips home with you is all well and good, but the reality is that you probably shouldn’t. There are a number of things to be aware of when it comes to casino chips, not least of which is the fact that they might soon be worth absolutely nothing. It is not unheard of for casinos to close down, for example, meaning that you won’t have a chance to cash them in if you’re away from the gambling house for too long and it stops operating before you get back to the cashier’s desk.
It’s also worth noting that casinos can change their chips with relatively late notice. In Las Vegas, for example, Regulation 12 says that venues looking to discontinue a line of chips need to give customers 30 days’ notice about doing so. This information will be published in at least two news sources, so the chances are high that you’ll find out about that. Finding out isn’t the same as being able to do something about it, though. If you live in a foreign country, say, you’re not like to get back to Nevada within 30 days to cash them out.
The last thing that you’ll want to do is end up with a large amount of chips that you can’t return to the casino that you won them from, either because it has closed or because they’ve chosen to change their chips. It is ultimately sensible to cash out your chips before you leave the casino grounds. If you can’t for some reason or another, the first thing that you’ll want to do is get in touch with the casino directly and let them know what’s happened. This way, there is at least a chance that you’ll be able to cash them in at some time in the future, if the casino is accommodating.
Looking After Your Chips
If you take your chips home with you and plan to head back to the casino at some point in the future in order to exchange them for cash, you’ll need to ensure that you keep them in a good condition. Casinos are unlikely to be happy exchanging chips that have been damaged, for example. The first thing that you’ll want to do is find somewhere safe to keep them. The thing with casino chips is that they aren’t linked to a person or account, so if you’ve got lots of them then a nefarious character might decide to take them from you.
On top of that, when it gets to the point that you want to head back to the casino in order to swap your chips for cash, you don’t want to be having to turn the house upside down in order to find them. To ensure that they’re in the best possible condition before you head back to the casino that you took the chips from, you might want to give them a clean with some soap and water. It is worth remembering that casino chips will have passed through countless different hands, which isn’t great in this day and age, so get them cleaned.
Given the fact that modern casino chips are, essentially, just pieces of plastic, you could be forgiven for wondering whether or not someone taking them home has a chance of replicating them. Unlike the old chips, which were mostly made of materials like clay, modern chips are fitted with RFID technology. RFID stands for Radio-Frequency Identification and RFID tags inside the chips allow casinos to keep track of them and ensure that the ones being used by punters are genuine chips issues by the venue.
Each chip is assigned with a unique serial number, which is stored on a microprocessor and can be read by sensors embedded in the casino tables. These also allow put bosses to keep track of how much someone is betting, as well as their wagering style, if they’re taking part in a high-stakes game. Whilst RFID technology is mostly used in the high-rollers areas, casinos have the ability to check whether a casino chip is real or not without having to worry too much about whether they’ve been forged.
The Bellagio Thieves That Were Left Short-Changed
In December of 2010, Anthony M. Carleo was wearing a motorcycle helmet when he produced a gun in front of members of the Bellagio team and stole a selection of high-value chips. He jumped onto the back of a motorcycle and disappeared, with his plan being to return in the future and cash out his chips. The problem was, the Bellagio simply decided to discontinue their $25,000 chips, which was the biggest denomination that Carleo had stolen, following the Nevada law on giving notice about the discontinuation.
This obviously meant that Carleo only had a certain amount of time in which to get back to the casino and cash them out. Police were also suspicious that Carleo had robbed the Suncoast Casino earlier in the month, but didn’t get anywhere near as much as the $1.5 million that he took from the Bellagio. He returned to the famous casinos the night after his robbery, heading to the high-stakes poker room to play some cash games and slipping some of the $5,000 chips he’d won into his stack and tried to launder them.
In the weeks that followed, he spent money on drugs and women and continued to gamble, hoping to change his stolen chips for cash. At the Bellagio, though, there is a computer system that keeps track of players that have won enough money to have the $25,000 chips that Carleo had a lot of. His name wasn’t on that system, so he ended up on forums asking people how many $5,000 chips they’d give him for a $25,000 one. This, in the end, proved to be his downfall, being hit by a sting operation thanks to the Las Vegas police.