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What happens to retired casino chips?

All around the world, there are different people collecting a whole selection of weird and wonderful items. For example, there are certain collectors out there who have a passion for collecting expired chips that have spent years being placed on different gaming tables for different people placing different bets. Some have been the result of massive wins, others have been colossal losses.

But all things have a shelf-life, and when batches of casino chips are taken out of circulation, they have to be disposed of. In the old days, there was no official policy on how to do this, and that’s how so many expired casino chips ended up in weird places. In order for them not to be used again, casino management used to get batches dumped in deep lakes, or mixed into the foundations of new buildings that were being constructed.

A romantic notion was that the chips in the foundations would bring the new building good luck. Others viewed it as a practical way to ensure that the chips didn’t fall into the wrong hands.

All chips only have a certain shelf-life. Photo by slgckgc
All chips only have a certain shelf-life. Photo by slgckgc

In Las Vegas, Spinetti’s Gaming Supplies is acknowledged to have one of the biggest collections of casino chips in the world. Whenever caches of expired chips turn up somewhere, Spinetti gets a call. Back in the 1990s when the Dunes Casino was demolished, construction workers discovered chips in the foundations, for example. And the same thing happened in 2007, when the New Frontier was demolished.

Spinetti’s collection is valued at around $15 million and his favourite casino chip is a Flaming chip, dating back from 1947.

Today, there are millions of people who choose to play games, such as poker, roulette, baccarat and blackjack at casinos online. There are plenty of reasons why. It’s convenient, you don’t have to leave home to play, so you have the option to play for just a few minutes and then carry on with work or whatever else you need to do, rather than devote a whole evening, weekend, or vacation to travelling and visiting land-based casinos. You can also play for free in practice mode, or get extra playing credit when you join a new casino site. But there are still plenty of land-based casinos in operation, of course, and nowadays, there’s an official disposal method for expired chips.

New legislation on the subject was introduced in 1987 and as a consequence, expired chips discoveries as outlined above will become even rarer in the future. Regulation 12 was introduced in order to reduce the risks of counterfeit chips being used in the casinos. Now, if a casino is ready to change its chips supply, it has to submit plans to the Gaming Control Board. This outlines what security ID will be used on the new chips and the method for disposing of the old chips. Generally, expired chips from casinos all go the same way these days – through a truck that has a tumbler fitted onto it. The chips are funnelled into the tumbler and are ground into dust.

In a way, this legislation is good news for chips collectors such as Spinetti – their collections will become ever more valuable!