Since the 1880s, companies have been manufacturing poker chips to standardize the gambling industry. Made mostly from clay, poker chips are the iconic symbol of gambling and hitting it big in Las Vegas.
Do Las Vegas Casino Chips Expire? Yes, casino chips are declared expired by casino owners to cut down on counterfeiting and fraud. However, most changes to casino chip’s expiration dates happen when the casino changes hands or a scam is detected that cannot be rectified in any other fashion.
This article will focus on several aspects of how casino chips expire, including:
- Why casino chips expire
- How to know if casino chips have or are about to expire
- Why are chips used
- What to do with expired chips
(This article may contain affiliate links and we may earn a commission if you make a purchase.)
Learn poker strategy from a 10x World Series of Poker Champion! Phil Ivey Teaches Poker Strategy (MasterClass)
Table of Contents
Why Casino Chips Expire
Casino chips are like any other commodity; they expire. The difference, however, is that casino chip’s expiration date is decided by the bosses of casinos, and those dates could range from months to decades after their issue.
Prior to 1987, the state of Nevada did not have regulations concerning what happened to expired chips, but there was so much fraud and counterfeiting they instigated Regulation 12. This regulation states that chips are the property of casinos but could not be used as currency. It also required executives of casinos to destroy any expired chips with rules on how to do it. (source)
When a casino changes hands or is shut down, the chips that were issued by that particular establishment become obsolete.
How to Know if Casino Chips are About to Expire
When casinos expire chips, they issue warnings several months in advance because once expired chips lose their face value.
When players go to cash in their chips that are set to expire, cashiers are required by law to ask the player for their identification card to prove they earned the chips from a game. If the person can’t verify where the chips came from, the cage can refuse to cash them in.
It is vital to ask someone in charge at the casino if there are any notices about chips expiring. Most likely, there will be none. However, checking for expiration events is always wise.
Casinos are not required to announce the expiration of their chips, so staying aware of changes in the casino where they were won is vital.
Why are Chips Used in Casinos Instead of Money?
Wondering why casinos use chips? Why don’t they just use bills and change? There are two primary reasons for choosing chips over the other two methods of payment;
The games in casinos are fast-moving, and it would be horrific for players and dealers alike if bills or change of different denominations were used. The dealer couldn’t quickly collect paper bills and/or distribute them from losers to winners.
Also, physical money takes up more space meaning the table would constantly be going out of order to have the cash removed to make room for more. High stakes games would be much more complicated.
Psychology comes into play when dealing with gamblers and their money. By dealing with chips instead of cash, players are psychologically more likely to bet big and not feel as damaged if they lose.
One can imagine a wager of a purple chip worth $500 as opposed to using a five-hundred-dollar bill or five one-hundred-dollar bills. Psychologically it is just easier to part with money when it is in chip form.
What To Do With Expired Chips
When chips expire, they completely lose their face value to become just pieces of colorful clay. Unless the chips are extraordinarily rare such as chips from an old casino from way back at the beginning of Las Vegas, they aren’t worth the time it took to save them.
There are things you can do with old chips. However, that will turn them into nice keepsakes. For one, holes can be punched through them to create jewelry.
Casino chips also make cool magnets and poker themed crafts.
Other than using them for cheap craft ideas, expired casino chips are worthless except for the memories they invoke of winning it big in Las Vegas. It is best to cash them in immediately after winning.
How Are Expired Casino Chips Destroyed
Years ago, when casino chips expired, the owners would dump them anywhere they chose, including in local lakes.
Today when a casino decides to expire chips, they must submit their plans to do so to the Nevada Gaming Board, telling them the design of the new chips. They must fill the board in about any new security features and how the casino will dispose of the old chips.
Now, casinos are required by law to consult a board-approved disposal company where chips are loaded onto a truck and then crushed by a tumbler into dust. Regulations also dictate that a gaming commissioner be present to run an audit of the chips and witness their destruction.
Security Features Utilized by Casinos
To protect both patrons and the casinos themselves, security measures have always been put in place by casino owners. At one time, it was nearly impossible to tell a real chip from a fake without undergoing testing of the material from which it is made. With the revolution of plastic, this became especially difficult.
Today new security measures are using low-tech and high-tech solutions. These modern security features may include:
- Unique Markings
- Radio Frequency Identification
- Ultraviolet Markings
These preventative measures help to keep the casinos solvent by preventing fraud and theft.
These are on casino chips to ensure that those from a batch where fraudulent activity is suspected are not recirculated or cashed in. Approaching the cage of a casino with mismarked chips can bring grave consequences, including arrest.
Radio Frequency Identification
This allows casinos to keep track of chips by enabling them to know from which table the chips were won. Not only do radio frequency identification marked chips help the casino, but they also help patrons who are questioned as to the authenticity of the chips they attempt to cash in.
These allow for clandestine tracking of casino chips without alarming or upsetting customers. All the cage of a casino needs to do is hold the chip in question under a black light, and the marking on the chip will fluoresce.
Can You Take Casino Chips Home?
Taking chips from a casino isn’t going to get one arrested unless, of course, the chips taken home are not owned by the person receiving them.
Most casinos expect players to take chips home, but returning to the casino to cash them in later will be a bit tricky. The cage can refuse to honor chips that are removed from the casino premises if there is no way to prove from which table they came from and when.
The casino will want to match a high monetary chip to a particular table worker for identification besides any markings that show it to be genuine.
As has been stated, it is far more profitable to cash in chips on the same day as they are won, especially if the chip is worth a great deal of money. While casino chips do indeed expire, the likelihood of them doing so is relatively small. Enjoying gambling winnings in Las Vegas won’t be a worry if one cashes in their chips immediately instead of saving them for a rainy day or a gift.
Do casinos clean their chips? Yes, bigger casinos do clean their chips. They either use an in house ultrasonic machine to clean their chips or send them out to a local service to do the cleaning. Smaller casinos tend to use the chips until they get too grubby, then they dispose of them.
Where do I get chips at a casino? If you’re wanting to play at a table with a dealer, you can just hand your cash over in exchange for chips. Another option would be to go to the “cage” or cashier, where the process is the same.
Can I go into any casino in Las Vegas? Yes, casinos love it when you visit. For more information check out our article here.