Each casino has a unique set of chips, even if the casino is part of a greater company. This distinguishes a casino’s chips from others, since each chip and token on the gaming floor has to be backed up with the appropriate amount of cash. In addition, with the exception of Nevada, casinos are not permitted to honor another casino’s chips.
The security features of casino chips are numerous. Artwork is of a very high resolution or of photographic quality. Custom color combinations on the chip edge (edge spots) are usually distinctive to a particular casino. UV markings can be made on the inlay. Certain chips incorporate RFID technology, such as those at the Wynn Casino in Las Vegas. Also, makers’ marks are difficult to reproduce. Also being used by one manufacturer, Palm Gaming, is an audible taggant incorporated into the ceramic chip blank. A simple handheld reader will beep if the gaming chip is authentic. Palm Gaming is even manufacturing custom made molds for their ceramic gaming chips- adding yet another high level of security to its gaming chip.
Counterfeit chips are rare. High levels of surveillance, along with staff familiarity with chip design and coloring, make passing fake chips difficult. Casinos, though, are prepared for this situation. All states require that casinos have a set of chips in reserve with alternate markings, though they may not be required to have exactly the same number of reserve chips as they do on the floor. The most notable instance of counterfeiting chips was broken up in 2005, when two men were caught falsely converting $1 chips into higher denominations.
Casino chips used in tournaments are usually much cheaper and of much simpler design. Because the chips have no cash value, usually chips are designed with a single color (usually differing in shade or tone from the version on the casino floor), a smaller breadth, and a basic mark on the interior to distinguish denominations; however, at certain events (such as the World Series of Poker or other televised poker), chips approach quality levels of chips on the floor.
Several casinos, such as the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, issue “limited edition” varied-designed chips, commemorating various events, though retaining a common color scheme. This encourages customers to keep them for souvenirs, at a profit to the casino.
In certain casinos, such as the Wynn and Encore Casinos in Las Vegas, chips are embedded with RFID tags to help casinos keep better track of them, determine gamblers’ average bet sizes, and to make them harder for counterfeiters to reproduce. However, this technique is costly and considered by many to be unnecessary to profit. Also, this technology provides minimal benefits in games with layouts that do not provide gamblers with their own designated betting areas, such as craps.
The first game show to use them, Duel, had a variation in which the contestants answer questions using oversized casino tokens. The World Series of Poker at one time actually used its casino tokens for the poker tournaments, but in more recent years has had special Paulson WSOP clay sets made for the tournaments.