The Casino Chip – History, Evolution, and Components
The legend Las Vegas quoted “Big Julie” Weintraub famously once said: “the guy who invented poker was bright, but the guy who invented the chip was a genius.” Among the unsung heroes of Las Vegas, Weintraub owns a particular corner. He was the behind junket business in the golden days of The Dunes.
Weintraub also organized VIP trips to Sin City for the rich and famous people. The celebrity influx in the early 1960s helped put Las Vegas on the map. The casino chip is a 39mm wide, 8 – 16 gm circular disc of genius.
In old times, people used clay to build casino chips, but now these are constructed using a cocktail of ingredients, like cat litter clay, sand, and chalk. How the chip is produced is a trade secret in the market, but these chips own an absolute value and serve as numismatic tokens.
The fact behind keeping the way of production secret is that if the counterfeiters found how to clone the chips, they would have a field day at the casino. So let’s get into the article to know the whole story behind the casino chip and where and when the first casino chip appeared?
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The First Chip
Though gambling has been a human activity since records began, the origin of the casino chip is still a mystery. About 6,000 BC years ago, in the Neolithic era, or to precisely say at the end of the Stone Age, the oldest board games were discovered.
Undoubtedly, betting was a part of routine life years back, when people were planning where to build the Pyramids of Giza. Many board games, including dice and papyri, have were discovered back in 4,000BC in Ancient Egypt. But, according to the laws of that time, gambling was banned in the region.
It is hard to pinpoint the era in which the first betting chip evolved. Betting was illegal though popular in ancient Rome, five hundred years ago before the birth of Christ. Chips arrived when the players denied they were gambling using tokens.
Chips evolve into the form we see nowadays in the next two millennia. In the mid-18th century, chips were intricately carved with the mother-of-pearl tokens of the Chinese Quin dynasty. It was the born of the Gold Rush –the first modern tokens.
The Classic Chip
Modern chip evolved when the unregulated gambling exploded combined with gold prospectors laden with gold in the mid-1800s Wild West. At that time, casinos weigh and assay the gold, and it was a quite hectic and time-consuming task.
Before the gold evaluation, bone, ivory, and clay were used for the table and chips. Then, casinos decided to brand and design their own chips uniquely to prevent fraud.
Mostly, the chip companies keep the manufacturing process secret. Either the chips are produced in ceramic or clay. For this, a board meeting suggested the opinions and came up with the best idea. But for a professional player, plastic is definitely a non-starter.
Collectible and Disposable Casino Chips
There are many collectors of old casino chips in the market out there. Among the top-ranked chips, Cuban casinos’ old and beautiful chips, Bugsy Siegel era chips of $100, and commemorative chips (Muhammad Ali fights) are in great demand.
The Golden Goose casino $5 chip is believed to be the most valuable chip in 1976. According to an estimate, only five thousand such chips were made, and only one exists now. Hold onto that chip. No need for gambling!
Casinos have to legally destroy all their old chips when a new line is introduced because of the rarity issue. The Las Vegas Gaming Control Board handles this process. Before this, the casinos simply dump the unwanted chips in Lake Mead or throw them into the concrete foundations of Las Vegas.
The Future of Chips
To get a proper hold on betting, chips impart a crucial role. When starting, get $100 worth of chips and simply give up when they are gone. Recently, some casinos have introduced digital systems in which modern chips are embedded with tiny RFID chips, and each one has a unique identification code. You can also showcase various tricks using these chips, including the vanishing chip, riffle, knuckle roll, chip twirl, bounce, chip roll, spin, and fanning.