In general, you can take casino chips home legally. Unless the casino has a specific rule that forbids customers from taking chips outside the building, then you can take a few low denomination casino cash chips home. You can add the casino chips to your collection or simply keep them as souvenirs.
Some casino chips are a work of art, and you may be tempted to just put a few in your pocket and take them home, especially if their value isn’t very high anyway ($1 or $5 chips, for instance).
It’s kind of like keeping a few coins, or lower denomination notes, after you’ve traveled to a different country. If they’re not worth much, you may as well keep them as souvenirs, or give them as a gift.
If you do want to take casino chips home, there are a few things you want to keep in mind — have a look at the following list…
- You should not take roulette chips home. I am referring to roulette color chips, not cash chips. Say a roulette table has only about two hundred chips for each color. If a few players decided to take home, say, a few purple chips each, that would be an issue for the casino. Moreover, taking color chips home could be used to cheat — you could play with e.g. blue chips valued at $1, take them home, then play with blue chips worth $100 the following day (using previous ones as well).
- You should not take tournament chips home. There are two main ways to play Texas Hold’em, or any other poker variant: poker tournaments, and cash games. Chips used in poker tournaments (which will always look different compared to other ones) cannot be removed from the room for the same reason explained in the paragraph above. Supervisors actually count all chips at the end of a tournament to make sure no chips are missing.
- In some casinos it is illegal to take chips home. Whether they are roulette chips, cash chips, $0.50 chips — it doesn’t matter. If the rules say the chips cannot leave the casino, then you simply can’t. Now, you could probably put a few in your pocket quickly, and the dealers won’t notice, but why take the risk? Typically, casinos who enforce this rule do so to prevent cheating e.g. people trying to counterfeit chips.
- Some casinos actually sell special cash chips. For instance, if you visit the Hippodrome Casino in London you’ll be able to buy some of their limited edition red £5 chips (have a look at the picture below). So in some cases you could just buy them at the casino store, if there is one.
Four reasons to take casino chips home
- They’re beautiful. Not all casino chips — some actually have ugly colors and a very basic design. But some chips are just very pretty, and you may want to take them home.
- They’re nice souvenirs. If the casino allows you, you could take pictures of them. But it wouldn’t be the same thing. It’s nice to have a few casino chips that remind you of your last holiday.
- You could resell them. Have a look on Ebay if you don’t believe me — some people are willing to pay quite a bit to get a small collection of casino chips. Not the most profitable business, but still.
- You can collect them. Finally, if you like collecting things, and like to gamble, why not collect casino chips as well? Each casino has its own chips, which means they are all very different.
Two reasons not to take casino chips home
- Chips may be replaced. Let’s say you travel to a different state or country, visit a casino, and take a few chips home. If you go back a few months later, it’s not guaranteed you’ll be able to use them. This is because the chips may “expire” and be replaced.
- You can buy chips online. And I’m not referring to Ebay resellers. I mean, you could simply buy casino or poker chips from an online store. Will they be actual casino chips? Nope. But it’ll be easier and cheaper, and you can find high quality ones.
As a side note, up until 2014 everyone could buy real clay Paulson chips online.
These were the same exact chips used by real casinos in the US, only, they had a different design.
For those who don’t know, Paulsons are the Lamborghinis of poker chips. The colors, material, edges, weight, and even the sound are by far the best.
Unfortunately, the company stopped selling to privates. Rumors are that a few casinos didn’t like the fact that anyone could buy casino-quality chips for a relatively low price, and put pressure on the company.
As I mentioned, you can still find high quality chips online, just know that they won’t be as good as Paulsons.
Never take poker chips off the table
There is a very important rule when playing cash poker — you can’t take your chips off the table.
Unless you’re just leaving the table, and want to cash out. But that’s a different story.
When you play poker, you can’t put some of your chips away (e.g. in your pocket, or on a side table). Your whole stack must remain on the poker table, and must be visible to all players.
This is to prevent cheating as well as disputes. As an example, what if your stack is $500, and you put $200 in your pocket before going all-in and losing a pot? Do you lose $500 or $300?
So if you want to take a few poker (cash) chips home, I suggest you leave the table first.
Do casinos track chips?
Yes, casinos track some of their cash chips, although usually only the higher denominations.
They do so in two ways: 1) the dealers/inspectors may keep count of the higher chips that leave the float, and 2) there may be tiny RFID tags inside the bigger chips.
Apparently, a 29 year old once tried to steal a few $25k Bellagio Casino chips — he didn’t know the chips could be tracked thanks to RFID tags (source).
- You can take a few casino chips home as long as management agrees
- You should never try to take roulette or tournament chips home
- Bigger chips may be tracked, so you really don’t want to take those home
- Casino chips are nice souvenirs, but you can find high quality chips online