15 Wildly Useless Facts About Casino Chips

We love casino chips! Here’s a hastily slapped-together collection of chip facts to stuff into your Vegas-hungry brain.

1. Chips are also called “checks” or “cheques.”

2. Nevada regulations say casino chips must be 1.55 inches in diameter (for chips used in games other than baccarat). Baccarat chips can be 1.55 inches or 1.6875 inches.

3. Regulations require Las Vegas casino chips to be .130 inch thick.

4. Gaming regulations also specify chips must be “disk-shaped.”

casino chips

Imagine the shapes we’d see if round wasn’t mandated. And we know what you’re thinking. Please grow up.

5. Chips are made from sand, chalk and clay, similar to the materials used in kitty litter.

6. One of the reasons casino chips are used is players gamble more with chips than cash. It’s not money, it’s chips!

7. Each casino’s chips have a unique design.

Strat new chips

Some of our favorite casino chips in Las Vegas.

8. Chip colors represent the chip’s value. Common colors are white ($1), red ($5), green ($25) and black ($100).

9. Chip denominations often have nicknames based upon their color. A purple $500 chip is called a “Barney.” Yellow chips, worth $1,000, are “bananas” or “canaries” or “bumblebees” (some casinos use orange, they’re “pumpkins”). A $5,000 chip is a “flag” (red, white and blue). “Melons” are worth $25,000. At Bellagio, they’re “cranberries.”

10. After a casino closes, customers have 120 days to redeem their chips. After that, they’re SOL.

11. Chip collectors grade the quality of chips with these designations: New (N), Slightly Used (SU), Average (A), Well Used (WU), Poor (P), Canceled or Modified (Can/Mod) and Damaged (Dam).

Casino chip design

Casino chips sometimes serve as snark delivery devices.

12. Casino chip collecting falls under the category of “numismatics,” the study or collection of currency (coins, tokens, paper money and related objects). To get even more specific, chip collecting is considered “exonumia,” the area of numismatics that focuses on items that are not
legal tender.

13. In the late 1800s, higher value chips were blue. That’s where we get the term “blue chip stocks.”

14. One of the security measures used in casino chips is RFID technology. Embedded RFID tags (most often used in high value chips) broadcast unique identifiers over radio frequencies. RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. RFID tags allow casinos to keep track of chips, monitor play and even thwart thieves. For example, when an asshat robbed Bellagio, his $1.5 million in chips were rendered worthless when the casino turned off the RFID chips.

15. Adding chips to your bet after an outcome (such as the ball landing in a pocket at roulette) is a method of cheating called “capping.” Removing chips is called “pinching.” It’s also known as “not very smart.”

Bonus chip trivia: A chip made famous by the Game Show Network series “Catch 21” is called the “Power Chip.” We should know. We were on the show and won five grand.

Catch 21

Yes, that’s Carlton. No, we didn’t do the dance.

The advent of electronic games has eliminated chips in some games, but there’s still nothing quite like the feel of chips when you’re in the middle of an epic craps roll.

Roll to Win Craps Las Vegas

Craps with dice is like Kanye without Kim. Yes, we consume pop culture. It’s not always about Las Vegas, you know.

The sound of clicking chips is so intertwined with casinos, it simply wouldn’t be the same without them.

The COVID-19 crisis has inspired casinos to clean their chips much more frequently, a practice that should continue into the future as some had not cleaned their chips since the Carter administration.

When people think of Las Vegas things, casino chips are often at the top of the list. Right after stripper poles.

If you’re into casino paraphernalia, you’ll want to check out 11 Casino Dice Security Measures to Keep Players From Cheating.

7 thoughts on “15 Wildly Useless Facts About Casino Chips

  1. Mark A. Erichson

    16. Casinos mint “commemorative” chips in hopes that the discs will become souvenir items. Every “special” red or green chip that a tourist pockets and takes home is a free $5 or $25 profit for the casino.
    (Hard Rock was probably the leader in this practice.)

    Reply
  2. Priscilla A Jenkins

    I remember when chips were silver dollar style, with each casino having its own. I have a collection of these silver dollars from most of the casinos. They are kept in two albums. Memories!

    Reply
    1. Pete

      The silver dollar type were not chips, but tokens for use in slot machines. They were actual silver dollars, but they stopped making new dollars from the 20’s to the 70’s as dollars went out of circulation the casino made the tokens.

      Reply
  3. Not so funny

    5. Chips are made from sand, chalk and clay.

    You forgot potato.
    𝖻𝖺 𝖽𝖺𝗆 π—‰π—Žπ—†!

    I’ll be here all week. No?!? ok.

    Reply
  4. VitalVegasFan

    It’s good to know that casinos are FINALLY cleaning chips. One thing I wish that casinos would do: print the year on casino chips (like with coins) and automatically cancel them if they’re more than 10 years old.

    Reply
  5. William Wingo

    In the old days when chips were made of clay, they sometimes added powdered lead to the mix to make them heavier. Let’s hope that was phased out as environmental concerns became more acute. Alternatively, sometimes chips were made with coin-like metal disks in the center, for example at Colorado Belle Laughlin before the Golden takeover. Nowadays, plastic chips may be injection-molded around a metal core, again to increase the weight.
    They might also put brass powder in to make the chips sparkle under the casino lights–as at the original Binion’s Horseshoe. Binion’s also had chips in service so old and worn that they were noticeably thinner than the newer ones; and their $5 chips were dark blue instead of red. You can tell I haven’t wasted my life….
    When a new chip series came along like at a change of ownership, the old chips were sometimes retired by entombing them in cement. Other things may have been “retired” that way too.
    And to Priscilla A. Jenkins: I also remember the “Silver Dollar” $1 slugs. Most of the Reno casinos had them in the 1960’s when I first started playing Blackjack; also the old Thunderbird in Las Vegas, and certainly others. The silver ones were said to be made of pewter; but they might also be brass or bronze. They were more expensive than the higher-denomination chips, and the pit bosses tried to keep them at the table. When you cashed out, they were very particular about coloring up. I wish I’d collected a few of those myself.
    Cheers.

    Reply
  6. Bruce

    Not sure what it is, but I love the chips – the feel, color, and casino logo. I have a large bag of them I’ll make a display case for…one of these days!

    Reply

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