Fake Casino Chips – How They Spot Counterfeit Chips

fake casino chips

6 minutes

Last Updated: January 21, 2023


Fake casino chips used to be one of the main ways in which criminals try to fraud these establishments and make some easy money.

However, thanks to increased security and technology the casinos implement these days, fake casino chips are not as nearly popular as they used to be.

Here, we will break down all the different methods casinos implement to prevent players from using fake chips and spot fake casino chips in case they do appear.

Original Casino Chips

Thanks to the information that is intentionally put into the public by casinos, most gamblers think that casino chips have certain standards by which they are made, but this is not the case.

There are only certain things that all casino chips have in common like the material they are made of (most often clay or ceramics) and, for the most, part color.

For example, most casinos will have their chips in the following colors:

  • $1 chips – white
  • $5 chips – red
  • $25 chips – green
  • $100 chips – black
  • $500 chips – purple
  • $1,000 chips – orange

However, there are so many shades of these colors that the chips of the same denomination can look to be of a completely different color.

And while the material and the colors may be similar, the weight and the stamps may be completely different from casino to casino.

How Do Casinos Prevent People from Creating Fake Casino Chips?

The first line of defense that the casinos use to prevent people from creating counterfeit casino chips is the design of the chips.

Although most casinos use the same colors, no two casino chips from different casinos are the same.

If a person makes fake casino chips, they can only use them in that specific casino or in that chain of casinos, increasing the chance of them getting caught.

In addition, the more details the chip has, the more difficult is to make it as it will require more time and more resources to do it right. This ratio between time and resources is the second line of defense against fake chips because it doesn’t make it worthwhile for the counterfeiters.

real casino chips

The higher the denomination, the more details the chips have. This includes color-shifting ink, microdots, holograms, and even radio frequency transmitters for chips that are used in rooms with high limits.

The third method that the casino uses to distinguish real from fake casino chips is coating all of the chips with special ink that can be only seen under UV light.

This also makes it easier to spot a fake casino chip on the spot as the only thing that the casino personnel needs to do is put the chip under the UV light to remove any doubts.

Finally, casinos have huge budgets for security and surveillance and they do not hesitate to spend them.

Surveillance is one of the most important things when it comes to preventing people from bringing fake casino chips onto the casino premises and exchanging them for cash.

How Do Casino Catch People Who Bring in Fake Casino Chips?

Most casinos implement procedures such as Knowing Your Customer when it comes to high-value casino chips.

If a person is buying high-value chips at the casino cashier, there is a high likelihood that the casino will take a photo of their face in case something comes up in the future.

On top of that, for each transaction that goes over $10.000 (whether you are buying in or cashing out) the casino will ask to see the ID of the player. If the player doesn’t provide one, they will refuse to exchange the money for the casino chips or the other way around.

Casinos have big archives that can go years into the past. Even if a person does invest time to create good counterfeit and manages to exchange them at the cashier, there is still a high chance that they will get caught.

This can happen the next time they enter the premises of that specific or some other casino, as some of the largest casinos often share this kind of information.

Getting caught with fake casino chips can result in felony charges, leading to prison time, as well as a monetary fine and getting banned from all future visits to the casino.

All of the above makes counterfeiting casino chips a not-worthy endeavor.

How to Tell if a Poker Chip Is Real

If you are playing at reputable casinos that take their security very seriously, chances of getting a fake casino chip are minimal.

With that said, if you are ever in doubt if a casino chip is real or counterfeited here are some of the things you can do to make sure it is authentic.

  1. Check if there is any additional text on the chip. For example, the text might say commemorative or fantasy chip
  2. Check the color of the chip. The best way to do this is to compare it with a chip that you know is authentic.
  3. If you still have doubts, inform the casino personnel.

It is very important that you report a fake casino chip to the casino as soon as you spot it. If you get caught with one, it can lead to you getting banned from the casino or, even worse, felony charges.

Another important thing to note is that a lot of people with fake casino chips will try to find a way to exchange them outside of the casino.

how to tell if poker chip is real

If you are in an area where there are a lot of casinos try not to take casino chips from people you don’t know even if they have a perfectly good explanation why they are trying to exchange them with you instead in the casino.

Most perpetrators will use excuses such as that they don’t have an ID on them or that they are banned from the casino premises so they are not able to exchange their casino chips for money.

Most Famous Cases of Fake Casino Chips

Even the most sophisticated measures aimed at preventing people from trying to scam casinos are sometimes not enough.

This was the case with 55-year-old Toh Hock Thiam, a man from Singapore who was caught with 1,291 pieces of counterfeit casino chips, each worth $1,000.

While it was not clear if he did it himself or if someone else was also involved, Thiam managed to defraud casinos out of over $1.2 million.

Another famous case is of a man and a woman from Northern Virginia who had a somewhat different approach to counterfeiting casino chips as they decided to convert original $1 chips into $100 casino chips.

fake las vegas casino chips

However, thanks to the surveillance and the security the casino had in place, they were caught on the spot without making any financial gain.

Statistics show that the $100 casino chips are the ones that are counterfeited the most. This denomination of casino chips seems to hit the “sweet spot.”

It has the right amount of value to make it worthwhile for the criminals, and not enough value to be tracked by the casino like some of the higher denomination chips.

Final Thoughts

While counterfeiting casino chips might have been a profitable endeavor for criminals in the past when the security in casino was nowhere near as good as today, in today’s casino industry, fake casino chips are a crime that does not pay.

Making quality fake chips takes time and money, and even with all the efforts, the chances of getting caught are very high. This si why counterfeit chips are nowhere as present these days as they used to be a few decades back.

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