Chip is no longer as good as cash

If a $5,000 casino chip could tell the story, what would the person say? The card could possibly explain a recent casino trip, or how it ended up with a cashier at MGM Grand, who questioned whether the money really belonged to the gambler.

This gambler who plays poker made the mistake of treating chips like currency. And all I’m going to show this gambler today is a receipt for a piece of paper, a chip he doesn’t have anymore.

The harsh lesson he learned is that this is not old Vegas, where casino chips were coins of the kingdom. I used to pay for groceries and haircuts, clearing debts between my friends. 파워볼실시간

That culture began to change two decades ago when Nevada defined the token as the property of a private casino and banned it from being used “for any financial purpose” outside the casino. The token was simply used as a proxy for cash, and was loaned to players for gambling purposes only.

The rule was adopted to align state laws with federal rules prohibiting the creation of new currencies and existing casino accounting procedures. The rules also have tax implications in favor of casinos, where unreturned chips are not taxed.

But churches still find chips in their collection baskets, and gamblers often tip with chips.

So Nolan Darla, one of the many poker players who casually trades, borrows, and presents poker chips to colleagues, was surprised to learn that he was technically breaking Nevada’s laws.

Darla, media planner for the World Series of Poker and other major poker tournaments, got the $5,000 MGM Grand Chip at the heart of our story from a friend who owes him. Darla decided to cash in on the MGM Grand-winning sportsbook tickets while simultaneously cashing in on the chip.

Asked if he got the chips at the casino, he told the casino cashier that he got them from a friend. Then the supervisor stepped in and asked him a few more questions, and then Dalla seized the chips, saying he couldn’t prove they were legally obtained.

A friend of Dalla’s told the supervisor over the phone that he received the chip from a third gambler. That’s exactly how it works in the world of serious poker players. The Big Denomination chip can switch hands between players after they leave the game table.

Darla received the receipt after the chip was seized by MGM Grand, but is down $5,000 for now.

He says the casino has given him an impossible task: proving that MGM Grand’s gambler bought the chip at some point.

“I think it’s very scary that we have the burden of proof on the gamblers,” he said. “It’s like the IRS. They think everyone is a fraud.”

In fact, casinos are simply following state laws. Nevada regulations allow casinos to seize chips if they “must know or reasonably know” that the individual who presented the chips did not get them in the course of gambling. The little-known rules, designed to protect casinos from theft, forgery and other types of fraud, allow cage inspectors to store the chips in question while investigating the source of the chips.

Casinos post signs telling gamblers that chips can’t be used for money, but they may go unnoticed or unheeded.

“The chips are absolutely not legitimate bids. They are the property of casinos,” said Alan Feldman, a spokesperson for MGM Mirage. “They are tendered for very specific purposes and the objectives are very strict. We have an obligation to make sure that the chips were obtained through proper and normal gambling activities.”

But old habits die hard in Nevada.

“This chip represents payment,” said Larry Grossman, a gaming industry commentator and former gambling talk show host in Las Vegas. “Why does it really matter where it comes from, as long as it’s legal? I think we should be at the casino to prove something wrong rather than proving it’s your own. I don’t think it’s anyone’s business other than the individual and the IRS.”

Decades ago, casinos were more likely to cash in their chips without asking too many questions because fewer high-limit chips were in circulation, said David Schwartz, director of the Center for Game Research at UNLV. “It was a much smaller industry, and there were fewer big gamblers to keep track of.”

Casinos generally accepted piles of chips from shopkeepers as well as chips from other gambling places. Casinos now have stricter policies on different chips based on their attributes.

Usually, casinos allow employees to refund not only tips but also chips they received from other casinos owned by the same company.
However, casinos can seize chips if they have any doubts about the country of origin. In the case of MGM Grand, the largest casino in the United States, this could happen at least once in thousands of deals a month. The casino will not say which denominations will trigger the investigation, but it is certain they will question the $5,000 chip’s history.

In some cases, regulators have ordered the chips to be cashed on behalf of customers.

State gaming regulators defended one high-stakes gambler, saying that MGM Grand would not have proved that the man gambled there, even if he had gambled. This is because gamers often choose to gamble without identifying themselves over casino bosses, because casinos prefer anonymity over the opportunities of companies and freebies by identifying themselves so they can track and evaluate their level of play.

And casinos don’t rate poker players because they play against each other, not at home. So, casinos don’t have to track exchanges because there are high value-added chips flying between them.

“The burden of proof at first is to show how the person with the chip got it through legal means,” said Jerry Markling, executive director of the Game Control Board. However, if the chip is confiscated and a customer complains to state regulators, the burden shifts to the casino to prove the case.

Darla is contemplating what to do with some of the big-denomination chips he’s built up over the years.

“Sports gamblers and those who play high-restricted poker always carry chips with them,” he said. “They don’t walk around with $10,000 or $15,000 in cash. This will give a red flag to gamblers’ minds. Be careful if you are in a poker room or in a sports book and someone wants to chip in you.”

The problem could happen 10 years from now, Schwartz said.

Some casinos have begun to embed chips with radio frequency identification tags. It then provides chips to certain gamblers so that casinos can track plays for the purpose of pinpointing casino revenue and granting compasses.

“It will be easier to track all kinds of transactions,” Schwartz said.

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