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If you’ve ever set foot in a brick-and-mortar casino then you’ll know that people don’t technically just throw money around when they’re gambling.

Instead of coins and notes, they use chips, which come in a variety of different shapes, patterns and colours. These chips are the default currency for casinos around the world. From Las Vegas to Monte Carlo and even in Down Under punting establishments, chips replace money.

This means that in order to bet in a casino, you need chips. Therefore, your first port of call upon walking through the front doors will be to exchange your money for said chips. Only then can you sit at the tables or stroll into the VIP room and place bets (unless you’re playing the pokies of course, which only take coins or notes).

Yep, chips are pretty bloody important. But what exactly are these plastic little discs? And why do casinos use chips when we also have money? In this article, we answer these questions by explaining the strange (but true) reasons why gambling chips are the casino currency of choice.

10 facts about gambling chips

1. Chips are sometimes called cheques or checks
2. Most gaming regulators specify that chips should be disk-shaped
3. Chips are made from sand, chalk and clay (similar to the materials used in kitty litter)
4. Every casino has its own unique chip design
5. The value of a chip is represented by its colour
6. If a casino closes, punters only have a certain number of days to redeem their chips before they’re considered null and void
7. Back in the late 1800s, high value chips were blue. This is where we get the investing term blue chip stocks from
8. Sneaking a few extra chips onto your bet after the outcome has been determined is a method of cheating called capping, whereas removing chips after an outcome is called pinching
9. Casino chips are a collector’s item
10. There are regulations regarding how wide and thick a chip can be

Why do casinos use gambling chips?

You’d think that getting rid of gambling chips all together would be the smartest and most profitable move for a casino, right?

They wouldn’t have to hire people in order to exchange the chips, nor would they need to employ security personal to monitor them during bets. They would surely also save money on having to manufacture the chips too, so it really makes you wonder why casino use gambling chips at all.

Turns out though, there are a few subtle but totally valid reasons why casino use gambling chips. Read all about them by scrolling down below:

1. Psychology

The main reason why casinos choose to use chips instead of cash is that like monopoly notes, chips offer a type of mental separation between yourself and your money. When you gamble with chips, it doesn’t actually feel like you’re gambling with your own funds. This can cause you to be swept up in the moment or make a bigger bet than usual, simply because you don’t connect the chips with legitimate currency.

If you want to break it down even more, imagine that you want to place a whopping $500 bet all on red at the roulette table. If you only had cash, you would need to count out all the notes in your hand before placing the bet. The very act of shuffling through your money might then cause you to reconsider. After all, that’s a few days’ worth of work that you’re about to throw on the table. Is it really a good idea to bet it all?

When the money is there, in your hand and staring you right in the face, it feels very real. When it comes to chips though, you can simply throw a single purple chip onto the table and voila – you just bet $500 – without really thinking about it.

2. Security

While casinos may be more secure than your local bank, they’re still susceptible to being ripped off by dodgy customers. And if they were to only use cash at the tables, you can imagine just how much easier stealing from them would be. What casino chips do then is give the casino in question extra peace of mind, since chips can’t really be used outside of the casino. For example:

The Bellagio was robbed some years ago now when a man parked his motorbike in the valet area, sprinted inside with a gun and robbed a craps table of $1.5 million in chips, most of which were in the $25,000 denomination.

When the Bellagio staff realised this, they announced to the world that they would no longer continue printing $25,000 for use in their casino. They set a deadline and from that point on the chips became worthless.

This meant that the thief only had a few days to cash in his chips before they were useless. But of course he couldn’t just walk into the casino and try to exchange them at the cashier’s desk. Instead, he tried to sell them on a poker website called The buyer, aware of the robbery, notified the police that someone was offloading budget chips and the bandit was arrested.

This isn’t the only advantage that chips offer though. Some casino even install RFID chips within their chips. Otherwise known as radio frequency ID, this little device allows them to track their chips while on the casino floor and monitor the higher denominations.

If someone tries to produce counterfeit chips or tamper with RFID chips, then the casino will be notified and the scammer caught. This prevents the casino from cashing out on fake chips and invariably saves them a bunch of cash. And like we said earlier, if chips are stolen from the casino, then the casino can render those chips unredeemable, which essentially makes them no more valuable than the materials they’re made from (remember… kitty litter).

3. Convenience

Another reason why casinos use gambling chips is that it’s easier. When the stakes are high and the game is flowing, the last thing everyone wants to wait around for is for players to pull notes from their wallet. Conversely, it’s easy to make a mistake in counting at an American casino where all of the bills look exactly the same.

In addition, money is perishable if left alone for a long duration of time. It can also get wet, ripped or damaged if it’s not handled properly. If you’re a casino and you need to stack your house cash, don’t you want to know that it’s being stored properly? Not to mention that money is hard to track and it takes up valuable space, whereas chips are always in circulation.

Finally, chips make it easier for the high rollers. It would be impractical to always count out hundreds of dollars for every round of bets. This is especially true in poker games where the fixed limit might be thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.

4. Personality

Casinos also use gambling chips because it lets them showcase their personality. Like we said earlier, every casino designs and produces its own set of chips. The denominations stay the same, but the colours and patterns are always different.

If you visit the Crown Casino in Melbourne, you’ll find that they have brilliantly designed chips. This is the same for the Star in Sydney. In fact, the many different types of chips available have even caught the eye of avid collectors. Now instead of stamps, coins and notes, you can go online to buy, trade and sell casino chips from all over the world. Of course, not many of them will be valid… but if you’re a collector it’s all about the looks anyway.

5. Data

Finally, casinos use gambling chips to gather information about their punters using those aforementioned integrated RFID data chips. Not all casinos do this, but that seems to be the way of the future.

The ones that do use RFID integrated chips can collect massive amounts of data, which then allows them to calculate trends and better optimise the experience of the player. For example, they can track how they move around the casino floor and where they’re won or lost.

The advantage to this is that by getting to know their target customer, casinos can give them a more tailored service. If that’s something you’re interested in, then you needn’t visit your local club though. Instead you can jump online and bet with Fair Go casino – we offer outstanding customer support no matter who you are, where you’re from or how much you bet.

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