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What Do You Do If You Lose Your Casino Chips?

woman holding casino chipsLand-based casinos are able to provide thoroughly entertaining times to people who enters them. And the process of getting involved in casino gaming is a simple one, allowing you to exchange your money for chips to play the games. This is done because cash is not able to be used on a casino floor. Anyone entering a land-based casino will need to visit one of the desks and change their physical money for casino chips. Those chips are then taken to the tables, and you utilise them for placing bets on your favoured games.

Now, while it may be quite simple for someone to lose a betting slip from a bookmaker or a lottery ticket that they have bought from an outlet, losing poker or casino chips is a different kettle of chips (pun intended). The likelihood is that it won’t be noticed by the player, depending upon how much they have changed. Unless they’re carrying around more chips in their hands than they can manage, then the likelihood is that casino chips won’t be lost while visiting a casino. Yet, it does pose the question of what if it does happen, right?

Yet it would probably be more appropriate to look at what to do if you find a casino chip while inside a casino. Many people would probably look at this as being similar to what to do if you find money on the street while outside. Essentially, this would see most people resorting to pocketing the chip and using it as their own if nobody sees them do it. That’s not the case, though. Casinos tend to have different policies when it comes to finding chips, so we’ve got some guidance on what to do if you end up locating a casino chip on the floor or left behind on a table, for example.

Casino Chips Should Be Returned to the Casino

red green and blue casino chips

Chips that have been dropped, left behind or don’t appear to have an owner remain as the property of the casino they were utilised in. While they do have a monetary value attached to them when you exchange your real money for them, the physical chip itself belongs to the casino establishment. This means that if you do happen to find one, then you should return it to the casino itself.

That being said, some casino establishments do fall in line with the “finders keepers” rule. Yet others do require you to pass them over at the exchange counter.

It is important to note that it is not good casino etiquette to wander around the floor seeking out lost chips or even going to the slot machines and searching for unclaimed pennies to pick up as your own. This is very much frowned upon and considered to be “low-life” behaviour when it comes to casino gaming. And you may even find that some casinos have very specific laws against enacting this type of behaviour as well. If caught in the act, you could be forcibly removed from the premises.

Essentially, if you’re trying to search for chips on the floor or that have been left behind to pocket for yourself, then it stands out as being an equivalent to stealing. If you do come across a discarded chip, then the safest and the moral thing to do with it is to take it to security personnel or to the exchange cage.

There is quite the difficulty behind enforcing these particular rules and laws, though. Often, players can be very smart when it comes to claiming a lost chip as their own. Therefore, they won’t simply take the casino chip and hand it over to the cage. Instead, they will pick it up, proceed to one of the table games and play blackjack or poker or roulette for some time before returning to the cage to cash all of their winnings out, along with the lost chip.

And while some casinos are fine with the “finders keepers” rule being invoked, the size of the chip involved also needs to be taken into account. If it’s a high denomination chip, then the establishment isn’t going to want to lose this to a random player. If you find a chip for £100 or more, then there’s no question that the casino will want this in its possession, rather than in the hands of a person who didn’t exchange their own money for it in the first place. Surveillance footage of the casino floor can easily be utilised to identify large chips being picked up and the culprit will likely be in trouble if they are discovered doing so and not taking the item to the cage.

No Official Laws on Lost Chips

law lady justice and legal booksDespite the fact that different casino venues come with their own rules surrounding the chips and losing them, they aren’t actually covered by any specific law. Interpreting the legislation is somewhat of a grey area, to be honest. While theoretically, the chips should be returned to the casino due to it being their property in the end, if someone exchanged their cash for the chip and then lost it, the rules can be somewhat hazy, to say the least.

In the UK though, rules are not so easy to come by with regard to lost casino chips. If you were to take a look at the United States of America, on the other hand, where gambling in land-based casinos is prevalent in locations like Las Vegas, there is only really somewhat of a provision in Nevada. This comes as part of the Nevada State Gaming Control Board in Regulation 12, which governs chips and tokens in states. Within that regulation, it is stated:

“A licensee shall not redeem its chips or tokens if presented by a person who the licensee knows or reasonably should know is not a patron of its gaming establishment”.

With that being the case, it seems like it is down to the casino itself to decide upon whether the player in question has exchanged their own money for the chips they are presenting when cashing out. If nobody saw you pick up a dropped or lost chip, then this rule seems to suggest that you can easily cash it out and nobody would be any the wiser (other than potentially the person who originally lost it).

That being said, the Gaming Control Board has been contacted before for an official word on this rule, and the response was generally that the “finders keepers” law comes into effect in such instances more often than not.

Just going back to the previously mentioned point about higher denomination chips, the Regulation from the Control Board does speak further on this. If the casino suspects that a particular chip of such a value does not belong to you, then it is legal and rightful for the cage to question you on where you won it and how. This would be able to be verified from the records at the table that you supposedly played at to win the chip. Keep in mind that casino chips below £100 or so are considerably harder to trace though, because many of them remain in play at any given time on a floor. And this is why those of higher denominations are more likely to pique the interest of the cage.

Security Departments and Their In-House Policies

casino securityIt has also been the case that the security departments of land-based casinos have been consulted regarding their practices on chips. The response to such questioning did differ from establishment to establishment, with some agreeing that the “finders keepers” rules was the in-house policy and others insisting on it being absolutely vital and mandatory for chips to be returned to the cage or to security team members.

Of course, the latter of those policies is indeed quite fine in theory. Yet there is not much that a member of the security personnel can do to know whether or not the chip you hold is actually yours or if it has been picked up during your time inside the casino. And the same question goes for the people behind the cage who exchange the chips for you.

Handing a chip in to the cage doesn’t always finish up with such a great ending in any case. Despite the cases of such occurring being fairly rare, they frequently remain unclaimed, and after a certain timeframe it becomes yours to keep. Yet the timeframe varies from casino to casino, with between 15 and 60 days being in play. Unless a casino chip that you had handed over was of a massive amount, would you really bother going back to the establishment just to check if it had been claimed and then obtain the money for yourself? The likelihood on that being the case is quite a negative answer.

The case seems to be that casinos in Nevada don’t have a specific rule set to follow, and even then, those policies in place at the more stringent establishments cannot easily be monitored. And while the practice of scouting casinos for mislaid or lost chips to pick up as your own may be looked down upon, it’s not something that can specifically be enforced as being against the policy of an establishment.

Could You Walk Out of a Casino With A Lost Chip?

hand grabbing pile of casino chips

Perhaps you have thought that if you picked up a chip from the floor and simply walked home with it without cashing it in at the cage, you could return another day and sort it out then. Well, there isn’t anything that specifically stops you from leaving a casino with chips in your pocket. The chip is simply a representative of a cash amount, so if you choose not to take this to the cage and exchange it for cash, then that’s your decision. As a result, the casino you are playing at simply gets to keep a hold of the money submitted in exchange for that lost chip, which they’re not likely to kick up a fuss about.

Not only that, but it is much easier to lose a casino chip at home than it is within the actual casino. While in a casino, you’re more likely to be focused on your chips and playing the games. At home, various other daily life issues and processes can get in the way. A casino isn’t going to lose any sleep over the fact that you took casino chips home, and you didn’t exchange them for cash because, again, they get to keep that cash.

There are very few reasons why you would want to take a casino chip home, though. Unless you’re looking to keep it as a souvenir of your time in the establishment or of a holiday at a casino resort, then you can’t deem anything from it. At the end of the day, it is representative of money, but isn’t actual money.

In the end, you probably shouldn’t take casino chips home with you for various reasons. Casinos can frequently change their chips with relatively short notice. This would make any chip from before the change obsolete. If you pick up a casino chip from the floor that is worth £200 and you decide to leave the casino with it and come back to cash it out a later date, imagine that you return and the chips in play are completely different. That leaves you with a totally useless chip that was formerly worth £200.

There was a case in Las Vegas where Tony Carleo, who also ended up being known by the nickname of The Bellagio Bandit, tried to get his hands on $1.5 million in cash by stealing casino chips. This occurred back in 2010, when Carleo chose to raid the Bellagio Casino in Vegas while brandishing a firearm. The robbery lasted just three minutes and he stole 14 chips worth $25,000 each. Yet he tried selling those to an undercover police officer and was arrested in a room at the Bellagio Hotel in February of the following year.

His intent had been to cash them out at the Bellagio just a couple of months after stealing them. However, knowing that the fourteen $25,000 chips had been stolen in December, the Bellagio simply decided to discontinue issuing those chips to players and got rid of them all. Carleo, the son of a Las Vegas Municipal Court judge, pleaded guilty to one count of robbery with the use of a deadly weapon. He also pleaded guilty to a previous robbery taking place in December of 2010, which occurred at the Suncoast Casino, where he made off with $18,000 in cash.

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