Casino chips (commonly referred to as cheques) are collectible items that can be bought, traded and collected online as a hobby. Numismatics is one form of collecting exonumia; casino chip collecting is another specialized form.
The chip-collecting community has experienced exponential growth since the creation of organizations like Casino Chips & Gaming Tokens Collectors Club. These groups help preserve and organize information available to collectors.
The Art of Collecting
Chips have become a collectible art form for many, who appreciate both the aesthetic value and historical importance. Some collectors spend thousands to acquire rare or valuable chips for their collection.
Casino chip collecting became popular during the early 1980s due to various casino and chip collector newsletters such as Bill Borland’s Worldwide Casino Exchange and Al W. Moe’s Casino and Gaming Chips, both offering various old casino chips for sale along with stories about Nevada casinos’ history.
Chip collectors tend to focus their collections in one area; casinos from Las Vegas and other Nevada gambling towns such as Lake Tahoe, Reno and Laughlin are popular collections, along with riverboats, cruise ships and Indian reservations. Some collectors specialize specifically in certain denominations – for instance $5 chips are highly collectible!
The History of Collecting
Casino chips have become an incredibly popular collectable. However, whether you’re new or experienced collector, here are a few key things you should keep in mind before diving in to this hobby.
Chip collecting first rose to popularity during the 1990s when internet access allowed for easier connectivity among collectors and access to information on older chips. Prior to that point, determining its worth or even locating one could be challenging tasks.
Collectors often specialize in collecting casinos from a particular region or type, for example those only collecting casinos from Las Vegas and Nevada while others collect regional casinos and even riverboats or cruise ships.
Collectors often collect limited-edition chips commemorating special events, like the opening of a casino or national remembrance day. While these chips tend to be more valuable than standard casino chips, buyers should be wary as some may be fake or have been altered in any way.
The Value of Collecting
Ten years ago, casino chip collectors in the United States numbered no more than 25 individuals. Today, this hobby has blossomed to encompass many dedicated collectors who obsessively collect tiny clay and plastic chips bearing names of long-gone casinos.
Chips not redeemed by gamblers can often be valuable collectibles, particularly those of higher denominations such as one from Club Royale which was submerged during Hurricane Erin – for instance a one-dollar chip can fetch hundreds of dollars!
Other elements that determine a chip’s value include its origin, color and mold. Collectors also prize chips from specific casinos with exotic locales; Las Vegas-area chips usually rank highly on most collectors’ wish lists due to their unique color combinations and proprietary artwork designs; these chips may be hard to come by otherwise but collectors can often purchase them through auctions, antique shops or online resale sites.
The Future of Collecting
Ten years ago, casino chip collecting in the United States comprised only single digit numbers; now it has grown into one of the fastest-growing and most exciting forms of collecting.
Some collectors focus on aesthetic value by collecting chips with appealing color combinations or proprietary artwork designs; others see their collection as historical artifacts that shed light on how casinos operated legally, morally and regulatory environments.
Still, collectors remain drawn to chips themselves, hunting for rare and valuable pieces. Some collect by denomination while others seek chips from specific casinos or regions like Las Vegas. Hunting obsolete chips of high denomination such as those sold during Benny “Bugsy” Siegel’s two year rule at Flamingo sold at auction for $3500 at CC>CC convention auction; other rarer chips have sold for four-figure prices.