We all know what they are, even if we’ve never held one in person. Casino and poker chips are small plastic discs used in commercial casinos and private games in lieu of real cash. They’re interchangeable with the local currency inside the casino but are generally worthless anywhere else.
Casinos use them as they provide more security against accidental miscalculations by staff and players and make it easier to spot fraud. They have become universally adopted by casinos the world over and are also represented in online casinos, despite them not offering the same security benefits on a computer.
Using digital representations of chips does offer one benefit to online casinos. Most offer welcome bonuses to new customers as part of promotional campaigns, but keep bonus funds and deposit cash in separate balances. The chips allow both to be used in the games in the same way, without complicated workarounds.
Poker chips may seem like simple pieces of plastic that even the most basic manufacturing business could handle, but this isn’t the case. Here are some of the ingenious technology that goes into them and the manufacturing process used to produce them.
While chips may just seem like they’re made using plastic injection moulding, they’re usually made with a few different materials. Outside of the US, they’re often made with a metal core that is encased in plastic, while American chips use a plasticine-like material that is baked to harden it, making it appear like plastic.
These American versions are usually called “clay chips” and they have a distinct sound when you place them on a table.
The colours of a chip are there for more than decoration. Typically, manufacturers of professional-grade chips will only sell a particular design to one client. This is to prevent forgeries and to make it easy to distinguish between chips from different casinos.
The colours are achieved through an injection process, with around 50 different options to choose from.
The centre designs, which usually contain the casino’s logo, are added as a decal.
Chips need to be as secure as currency. There are many ways this can be done in the manufacturing process.
Modern chips contain RFID tags that can be checked with special readers. UV ink is also used on most modern chips and works in a similar way to watermarks on a banknote.
Chips are also made to be uniform in size, making it easy to spot counterfeits. This requires tight tolerances in the manufacturing process.
Ultimately, much more goes into the production of chips than most people think. So the next time you’re in a casino, give some thought to the effort that is gone into the little disc in your hand.