Why casinos use chips instead of cash

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Reputable online casinos and land-based casinos use chips instead of cash for a variety of reasons. Chips make for a cleaner playing surface and are faster to use than flipping through a billfold. It's a lot more organized to play with a stack of chips instead of a stack of bills that have been folded every which way at some point or another. Let's take a closer look at the reasons why casinos use chips instead of cash.

Practical

Imagine sitting at a table, having a great time, the game is flowing, and then Joe beside you has to reach into his wallet so he can bet again. Cue the wait while he fumbles for the right bill. The time it takes for each player to get their billfold out and place their bet is valuable time that you could use to win!

Doesn't it make more sense for each player to have a pile of chips conveniently in reach the entire time? It makes sense to us! Not only is it easier to count the chips, but it's also faster to place your bets if you don't have to dig through your pocket.

Supervision

When you're looking at the casino floor through a security camera, it's hard to tell the denomination of bills passed to the dealer. The lack of visibility means it's hard for pit bosses to track how much players are spending at any particular table.

If supervisors can't tell what you're spending, then it's harder for them to reward you with perks. Casinos like to give their big spenders incentives to continue gambling, such as free drinks or meals, and even a night in the hotel.

Accounting

It's easy to imagine a casino like a bank. You go to the cashier, exchange your money for chips, and play your favorite games. You get to have fun, and the cashier knows exactly how much money you are walking around within the casino. When it comes time to cash out, you bring your chips back to the cashier and exchange them for cash.

Once you've cashed out, the casino knows how much of your money is still in their coffers, or how much they're paying out. These calculations are necessary so that the casinos can account for the money coming in and the money they're paying out.

Nostalgia

I don't know about you, but I know a few people who have taken home some chips as souvenirs from a vacation or a great night. Some of them even had special cases and were purchased specifically to show off. It might seem like stealing to take chips out of the casino, but there's a clever reason why casinos don't stop you from taking them.

The casino saves money when you take the chips home. If you don't cash out, they don't have to pay you anything, which increases their profit. As mentioned above, casinos even produce special chips for souvenirs to commemorate specific events that the casinos host.

Organization

A huge advantage of casinos using chips instead of cash is that it makes for a nice tidy tabletop. The table would be quite cluttered if every player had a stack of bills in front of them. Disorganization could cause a problem when the table is full of players; it gets harder to distinguish what belongs where.

Chips are small and stack in a more organized manner than bills that have been in circulation for a while. The chips can't crumple or fold, and therefore maintain a more organized table.

Protection

One of the security features that casinos use is the option for players to self-exclude themselves from the casino. This feature is used by gamblers who face addiction problems or those who want to make sure they don't lose any more money.

Technically, the chips belong to the casino and are on loan to the player. If a self-excluded player is identified on the floor, managers can cut them off and seize the chips. Excluding a player would be much more difficult, as the casino wouldn't be able to take their money from them. This way, the casino can seize the chips and cash them out at their discretion.

Regulation

Depending on where you are gambling, there may be regulations and laws to prevent casinos from using cash to gamble. There are other regulations that casinos must cooperate with; for example, Title 31 ensures that casinos report their larger transactions. The reporting is a way to protect casinos and banks from money laundering.

If the bank allowed players to walk in without recording the amounts they are playing with, it opens them up to liabilities. Criminals would easily walk in, deposit their dirty money into slots, and then walk out with clean money. Using chips creates a paper trail that can be traced back to the player.

Psychology

The biggest reason why casinos use chips instead of cash is the psychological aspect. It's much easier for players to part with a chip than part with a bill. The bill has more of an economic weight in the player’s mind. They might already consider chips as paid for and therefore are much more willing to part with them as they've already counted on playing the chips.

Conclusion

Reputable online casinos and land-based casinos have been using chips or tokens for ages. Chips make for more practical experiences, speeding up the amount of waiting time, and creating a cleaner playing area. It's much easier for casinos to account for the money coming in and out of their premises if they exchange it for chips.

Casinos use chips for various reasons, from creating an organized table, and protecting players who shouldn't be on the floor. For all those reasons, the most important is that players are more likely to spend their chips at the end of the night instead of putting their money back in their pockets.