The Risks of Using Fake Chips and How Casinos Identify Them

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Chips and playing cards on a table
BetMGM Jun 18, 2023, 3:45 AM

Casinos take great precautions in protecting their assets, including ensuring the authenticity of the chips used in their establishments. Yet, the reality is that counterfeit chips still get into circulation — and the most intricate copies are nearly indistinguishable from genuine chips. 

Since the advent of online casino games, the use of fake chips still plagues land-based casinos. It not only compromises the integrity of the gaming experience but also constitutes a serious offense. 

This guide explores why using fake chips is highly discouraged, the difficulty in creating counterfeit chips, the consequences of being caught with fake chips and current anti-counterfeit measures employed by casinos.

Why You Should Never Use Fake Chips

Casino chips are a convenient alternative to using real money on the floor; however, they are a target for counterfeiters. Using fake chips in a casino is not only unethical but illegal. 

Casinos have to honor chips’ value once patrons want to cash out. Casinos lose significant profits when they’re unwittingly exchanging fake chips for real currency. Using counterfeit chips can result in severe legal consequences, such as criminal charges and prosecution. 

Being caught with fake chips can also lead to casino bans and, in some cases, being blocklisted from all gambling establishments, including online game casinos. Interestingly, in America, the most commonly counterfeited denomination is the $100 chip.

The Difficulty in Creating Fake Chips

Authentic chips are designed with intricate features and signatures that can make them difficult to replicate. Casino chips are usually made of molded plastic or “clay.” They vary in weight, style, design and color from one casino to the next. 

However, there are more shades of each of these colors than you can imagine. Painting a chip the correct shade without altering the weight or feel isn’t easy. 

Reproducing stripe colors, UV markings, intricate inlays with logos, denominations and security features like holograms presents additional challenges. Some high-value chips even incorporate RFID technology, often found in high-limit gambling rooms.

Consequences of Being Caught With Fake Chips

Casinos track high-value chips due to KYC and Anti-Money Laundering laws. If you’re playing live dealer casino games and you’re buying in with chips worth over $500 or $1,000, the casino floor supervisor calls surveillance and takes your photo. 

Extensive camera coverage allows casinos to track back months of surveillance footage. If you attempt to buy in or cash out over $10K, the US government requires ID and social security numbers. You won’t be allowed to play if you don’t have the requisite credentials and documents.

If a player is found guilty of using counterfeit chips, they may face legal charges, including fraud and counterfeiting. They may also be subject to penalties and even jail time.

Current Anti-Counterfeit Measures in Casinos

In addition to the above legal penalties, casinos will confiscate the fake chips, seize any winnings associated with them and ban the individual from the premises permanently.

Casinos also employ advanced technologies and proprietary manufacturing techniques to safeguard against counterfeit chips. These measures may include a range of approaches.

Embedded RFID technology

Many casinos now embed Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags in their chips. These tags allow for quick and accurate verification of the chip’s authenticity, denomination and location within the casino.

Using RFID chips makes poker chips impossible to counterfeit because of a central monitoring server. 

UV and Infrared Markings

Casinos often incorporate invisible markings, detectable only under ultraviolet or infrared light. These markings are difficult to replicate and provide an additional layer of security.

Casinos use UV inks as an anti-counterfeiting measure for low-value chips. It’s an expensive material that makes counterfeiting less enticing for criminal organizations.

AlpVision Fingerprint

The AlpVision Fingerprint is a cost-effective solution for casinos that detect counterfeit products at a detailed level. This technology identifies intrinsic flaws in plastic molds and compares them to determine if similar microscopic inconsistencies exist.

The absence of these unique imperfections indicates that the product is not genuine. Counterfeiters find it extremely challenging to replicate these minute markings, even if they have access to the original plastic mold.

Can Weight, Look and Design Be Determining Factors?

In spite of the challenges and measures in place, counterfeiters are still able to get these chips into circulation at casino table games. To the untrained eye, things like the weight and design of a chip are not reliable indicators for determining whether it is real or not. 

Counterfeiters can fabricate serial numbers and custom or “invisible” markings and have even found a way to easily imprint holograms.

Since most casino chips are made of clay composite, forgers can manipulate the weight by incorporating metal inserts to make them heavier or to match the weight of genuine poker chips.

Determining Chip Authenticity

While the weight, look and design of a chip can provide initial clues regarding authenticity, they are not foolproof indicators. Some counterfeiters can create visually convincing replicas that closely mimic genuine chips. 

Therefore, casinos need to invest in a combination of the above anti-counterfeit measures — namely advanced technologies, surveillance, security and trained staff to accurately identify fake chips.

For the gambler, the risks associated with using fake chips include fraud charges and prosecution. It could also mean a permanent ban from all brick-and-mortar casinos and an inability to register for online gaming.

A Final Thought for the Online Gambler

Since online gambling takes place in a virtual environment, the concept of physical counterfeit chips doesn’t really apply. However, there are other forms of fraudulent activities that can occur when you play at a casino online.

Whether you play online slots, jackpot slots or online roulette, it’s crucial to remain vigilant and choose reputable online casinos that prioritize security and player protection. When you register at BetMGM, not only do you get peace of mind, but you also get access to a vast selection of online games and gambling activities, including classic table games, online slot machines and many more.

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.