Casino chips are one of the most iconic and recognisable items relating to casinos, although their existence came centuries after the first recorded casino even opened. Today there are two different types of chips you can find, the casino chips you find in the brick and mortar casinos and their plastic counterpart that is usually part of a home casino kit from a shop. The future of casino chips is not clear as online casinos become more popular, replacing the need for physical casino chips.
The first casino was the “Riditto” casino and it was opened in Venice back in the 17th century as the first legal gambling venue, although gamblers would use cash for nearly 200 years when playing casino games. The “Gold Rush” in the American West saw prospectors begin to use odd bits of silver and gold as replacements for cash, but with this came more problems. As poker became increasingly popular and widespread in gambling halls and saloons, paying out winnings became more confusing. It was at this point that the gambling establishments began to use pieces of bone or ivory as tokens as a more uniform token to bet with, making it easier to calculate winnings.
Unfortunately due to the use of more common materials like bone and ivory, problems had begun to arise in the gambling establishments as it was easy for people to create forgeries. In order to prevent people from creating replicas, the chips that were used started to become branded, which allowed them to be distinguished from the fakes.
It was in the 1880s that a whole new industry was born as manufacturers began to produce the standardised circular casino chip that is similar to today’s version. The early versions were clay composite chips that were compressed with shellac, chalk or sand and were used up until the 1930s. Eventually colours were incorporated into the chips to allow for different values to be easily distinguished from one another, making it easier to understand how much the players are betting on each round.
Since then the casino chips have become more modern, with the composition being made up from many different materials, usually compressed with clay. As casinos have become more prominent and become more branded, as have the casino chips, with each casino usually having their brand on their chips. The chips have also become more technologically advanced as they are likely to contain something that allows the casino identify them as one of theirs. Such identification includes the use of microchips and serial numbers and this has made them far harder to replicate and forge, so much so that they are harder to forge than official currencies.
Although most commonly associated with games of poker, casino chips can also be used in casinos for games like blackjack and roulette. The colour denominations for the different chips helps the croupier to quickly work out how much has been bet and how much needs to be paid out.
With online casinos becoming more popular, only time will tell if brick and mortar casinos with their iconic casino chips can survive.