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Gambling for monetary gain is illegal for South Korean locals. They are, however, allowed to play for leisure at the only casino for locals located in the remote province of Gangwong. This casino is not exempt from illegal activities led by individuals.
South Korea has plenty of foreigner-only casinos and they are not immune to illegal activities. There have been previous instances where the casinos fell victim to casino chip forgery and smuggling. In 2008, an international crime ring developed a scheme to smuggle fake chips into a Kangwon Land Casino and cash it out. The fake chips were found out to be from China and smuggled in by South Korean locals. Upon careful examination, the chips were almost similar to the authentic casino chips. There were about 3,700 fake chips in KRW1 million denomination. The cashier noted the counterfeit chips is a bit lighter than the real ones.
One technology applied to casino chips are chip minting. Last September 2018, South Korea’s Minting and Security Printing Corporation was tasked to develop new chips for the Grand Korea Leisure, the company running the Seven Luck casino in the nation’s capital. The state-owned minting company is also the one responsible for minting coins and banknotes and other government papers.
The agreement entered by Seven Luck and the Minting and Security Printing Corporation aims to utilize the latter’s technology to create distinct ships for the gambling establishment. The casino is moving towards streamlining their services and prevent forgery and use of counterfeit chips by their guests and patrons.
Each and every casino has their unique and distinct set of chips that players can use. In the past, however, were several instances that players successfully smuggled fake chips and exchanged them for cash. To prevent this from continually happening, the chips will now use an innovative 3D security technology and highly sensitive materials to thwart any attempt to forge the chips and carry out anomalous activities on the casino floor. This technology is similar to the ones used when making the country’s currency.
Professional poker players have become iconic with their chip stack, with some players playing with the chips in their hand whilst they are thinking if they should fold, call, raise, or bluff. These casino chips have become a fixture in casinos that some of these gambling establishments have personalized it to make it easily associated with their company. Why do casino companies spend more, in terms of production and manpower, to use chips instead of cash?
The use of chips in casinos are more than just tradition. They are there because of:
Mental Separation. The use of chips in casinos enable gamblers to think of chips as a separate entity from their cash. Although chips have monetary value, many gamblers are somehow “tricked” into thinking that it is not an actual cash and encourage them to be braver in betting large amounts. There is lesser inhibition in high-risk betting because their mind thinks that what they are betting is not their hard-earned money. It is easier to bet money when what you are holding is not real cash.
Security Issues. For casino owners, chips add a layer of security. Gambling establishments can have complete control of chips against suspicious individuals who are thinking of cashing in on stolen chips. To cite an example, Bellagio was robbed of $1.5 million worth of chips in December 2010. The Bellagio management noted that a large sum of the chips were $25,000 denominations. Armed with this information, they announced that they will discontinue the production and acknowledgment of all their $25,000 after a given time. The robber was then forced to sell the stolen chips and that was how the robber was caught.
Since the chips have installed radio frequency identification (RFID) tags in them, the casino can track the chips and detect any fraudulent activities. This way, no one can just walk into the casino and cash in counterfeit chips. Through the RFID tags, the casino can note which of the chips are missing. They can simply remove the chips in question from their inventory. Since it is no longer in their stash, it becomes worthless.
Ease of Use. Having to use several different kinds of bills in a table game can take up too much time. Let say you are playing an aggressive game of poker, counting the bills you have in your pocket may be burdensome. You wouldn’t want to fumble while getting your cash and give away your hand. With the casino chips, players can easily place their bets, especially in fast-paced and high-stakes games. Dealers would surely have a difficult time counting a bunch of bills during a hand. The use of chips makes the process easier and faster.
Data Collection. This use is primarily for casinos using RFID tags in their chips. Whilst not every casino uses this technology, the trend is getting traction. Placing RFID tags allows casinos to collect huge amounts of data including dealer mistakes, fraud, and chip movement in the casino. With this information, casino owners and operators can streamline their profits, avoid fraudulent activities, and track a gambler’s playing trend. In the future, casinos can use RFID-enabled chips to know how skilled casino players are or identify who are the card counters.
Yes, all poker chips expire. But unlike other items, the expiration date is decided on by casino owners. They can be months, years, and even decades after they were manufactured. Casino operators can choose to discontinue the chips if they think a fraudulent activity was done for a certain batch of chips like what Bellagio did when a bunch of their $25,000 chips was stolen. Discontinued chips lose their face value.
In the early 1960s to 1970s, chip value lasts a lifetime. Anyone in the playing in the casino can bring home their chip, keep it, and exchange it to cash at a later date should they need real money. Now, the case is different. Casino regulators moved to put an expiration on casino chips to reduce fraud and counterfeiting.
Probably the only value these discontinued chips have come to casino chip collectors. Rare chips can be quite valuable. The more interesting back story of the chip, the more valuable it is for collectors.
Before the 1987 regulation of casino chip production and disposal, no one really cares where these chips end up. Some casino operators dispose them by throwing them off bodies of water. Several years ago, a diver found Las Vegas Club chips at the bed of the Lake Mead. The said casino chips were in play in 1957 but were discontinued in 1963. Other casino operators dispose the chips by using them as a foundation fill – either for good luck or for no reason at all. In 2007, the foundation of New Frontier had chunks of poker chips and metal tokens. The same thing when Dunes was demolished in 1993, workers collected five gallons of chips from slabs.
Regulation 12 made casino chips the sole property of casinos. Gamblers cannot use the chips as a currency and the casino executives should destroy any discontinued chip in a regulated way. Casino owners welcomed this law because it allows them to save money since casinos and integrated resorts cannot be taxed on unreturned casino chips.
This, however, did not make players happy because it simply means they can no longer pay their debts using chips. The law stipulates that the chips only have value as cash when used in gambling and not as a currency outside of the casino. Some casinos require players to present their player’s card to verify whether the chips were earned from playing and not as payment for a debt. The law also states that casinos can refuse to encash chips if they reasonably doubt the source of the chips.
If the casino decides that it is time to dispose some of their chips and create new chips, the Gaming Control Board must first receive the proposed chip design and security technology and features. They must also present a plan for disposal for the old chips. Since the chips come with security features including ultraviolet markings and RFID tags. When destroying the chips, the casinos must seek approval from the board-approved chip disposal company, oftentimes the same company that manufactured the chips. Typically, discontinued chips are crushed into dust, with gaming regulators monitoring and auditing the procedure.