Why Do Casinos Still Use Casino Chips Instead of Cash?

min read
Scattered cash next to piles of casino chips and a deck of cards.
BetMGM Dec 01, 2023, 6:45 AM

With multiple digital payment options and the rise of cryptocurrency, casino patrons might wonder why casinos still use traditional chips instead of cash or electronic payment methods. The truth is that casino chips are much more than a bygone casino currency. Betting chips don’t just induce nostalgia; they increase security, help prevent fraud, and influence how gamblers think and behave. There’s even some impressive tracking technology hiding inside the chips for gambling at a casino. 

Before your next visit to a casino to play casino table games, read this guide on casino chips and why they’re still a necessary part of the casino experience. 

The History and Tradition of Casino Chips

When gambling first started becoming popular, there was no set currency. Not everyone who walked into a saloon or casino had access to money. People used gold nuggets, coins, gems, and minerals they had found while mining. Some players even wagered their cattle, food, and other personal items. As a result, bets became chaotic and challenging to track. The invention of casino chips was inspired by necessity. 

The history of casino chips shows that the first casino chips were fashioned out of stones, wood, and bone. Some chips were made from a mixture of clay and paper. But this ingenious idea to replace “currency” with chips was not without problems. The chips were easy to replicate, and players started adding their own handmade chips to their stacks during games. Casino chips had to be unique and serialized; they had to use materials that were hard to replicate. 

The material used for betting chips continued to change and evolve. In the 1800s, the iconic clay chips were introduced. Later, acrylic and plastic chips were created, which were cheaper to manufacture than the ivory chips produced by some manufacturers. 

By the 20th century, chips were being created using high-pressure machinery. Today, every casino’s chips are unique to the establishment and branded with their logo and colors. 

Why Do Casinos Use Casino Chips?

It’s time to give good old casino chips the credit they deserve. They aren’t just there for aesthetics. They also play an essential role in casino operations. Here’s how. 

Fraud Prevention and Enhancing Security

Chips aren’t just tokens. They are an essential part of the process casinos use to catch cheaters. Unlike cash, which is difficult to trace, casino chips can’t just be stolen and used anywhere. Casino chips can only be traded for cash in the casino that issued them. What’s more, did you know that it’s not just a distinct design that makes casino chips secure? 

Casino chips use radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to authenticate high-value chips and to allow management to track the movement of the chips around the floor. This lets them monitor suspicious behavior, like staff members colluding with patrons.

Thanks to RFID technology, a casino can now access more data than ever. RFID helps casinos catch dealer mistakes and see which players attempted to sneak in last-minute bets. This technology could make it easier to identify card counters in the future. 

The RFID technology in high-value chips uses tiny silicon chips to broadcast a unique identification code when a reader device scans them. Low-value chips are authenticated using unique serial numbers that are etched on the chips to prevent counterfeiting and fraud. In addition to RFID, chips allow casino operators to mobilize their own staff. Casinos can train their staff to spot counterfeit chips. 

Marketing and Branding

Chips are so essential to the casino experience that even online casinos use branded chips for their live dealer casino games. And it’s not just about making online casino games more like their land-based counterparts. Casino chips are a brilliant marketing tool. 

Chips for gambling are a clever way to keep your establishment’s name and logo in the presence of your patrons. This solidifies the relationship between patrons and their casino of choice and makes their brand logo and aesthetic memorable and easily recognizable. Next time your friend mentions casino dice games, you’ll instantly think of the casino and logo. Plus, winning casino chips is a memorable experience. Having a casino brand on the chip creates a positive association between the brand and the feeling of winning.

Simplified Accounting

Using chips instead of cash or virtual payment methods makes it convenient for players and the casino to do accounting. With a chip, you only need to look at a stack to calculate the value of a bet. Similarly, casinos use chips to make it easier to track how much “cash” they have on hand on the premises. Casino chips are also easier to stack, store and count than cash. 

Influencing Player Psychology

Many things influence people’s spending habits. For example, some may find it easier to buy expensive items using their bank cards than it would be paying cash. Similarly, using chips feels different from betting with cash. 

People don’t always enjoy spending their physical cash. This feeling can hinder the excitement and anticipation players come to expect when they play real money casino games. Using chips disassociates gambling from spending money. Instead, the chips are seen as a playing token. 

Though it’s fun to think of gambling as a game, you should play responsibly. Once you’ve chosen which of the casino games to play, create a budget and stick to it.

Making Games Run Faster and Smoother

It’s easier to count and collect chips than it would be for players to get the right amount of money and for dealers to count and check the currency. Designated chip colors make it easy for dealers to keep the game flowing without unnecessary pauses. While the game continues, the surveillance team views chips from a distance to keep track of bet sizes. 

Can You Cash In Casino Chips Anywhere, and What Are They Worth?

In general, casino chips can only be cashed in at the casino where you won them. However, sometimes, casino cages will cash a limited number of low-denomination chips from a casino that is owned by the same company, but is in a different area. For example, if you have chips from an MGM casino in Vegas, you may be able to exchange them at an MGM casino in another area. 

When it comes to casino chip denominations, there is no universally accepted standard for casino chip colors and values. Instead, individual venues or organizations establish their unique systems, leading to variations among different casinos and companies. So, it’s always important to ensure you understand the chips’ colors and values at the casino where you’re playing to avoid making potentially costly mistakes. 

The Value of Casino Chips

While it is always a good idea to confirm the value of specific casino chip colors when you’re playing at a land-based casino, just to make sure that you understand them completely, here is the most commonly used color-value system used by most U.S. casinos.

  • White: $1.
  • Red: $5.
  • Blue: $10.
  • Green: $25.
  • Black: $100.
  • Purple: $500.
  • Yellow: $1,000.

Poker Chip Values

Poker chip values can vary, and specific tournaments or events often have their own unique setups. For the World Series of Poker’s Main Event, the following values and colors are typically used:

  • Green: 25.
  • Black: 100.
  • Purple: 500.
  • Yellow: 1,000.
  • Orange: 5,000.
  • Dark Green: 25,000.
  • Hot Pink: 50,000.
  • Lavender: 100,000.
  • Beige: 250,000.
  • Red: 500,000.

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BetMGM’s online casino accepts prepaid cards, debit and credit cards, as well as Apple Pay, TAPPP, Paypal and many more payment methods. Offering multiple methods for deposits and withdrawals is one of the key signs that your online casino is legitimate. If it’s super easy to withdraw your winnings, that means the casino isn’t trying to scam you or discourage you from withdrawing.

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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.