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  1. The annual Casino Chip and Gaming Tokens Collectors Club convention in Las Vegas draws those who think of themselves as both collectors and Many chip collectors start out as coin collectors but grow disillusioned at how the value of coins, particularly those minted mainly for collectors, can be.:
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  2. While some casinos (such as the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas) which installed the receipt system had kept the $1 tokens around for use as $1 chips, most other casinos using the receipts had simply scrapped the tokens entirely. Most casinos using receipts have automated machines at which customers may redeem.:
    They're the diamonds of Las Vegas; small, colourful tokens that can represent tens of thousands of dollars. You'll find them play more. As tender, gaming chips only hold value within the casino – you can't pay your bills with casino chips – so players are far more likely to spend them freely than they would their money. A Caesars Palace $25 casino chip with green horsehead mold and a $5 chip from Lake Tahoe casino Wagon Wheel are slated to be Buyers and sellers often turn to the Chip Rack, the Sotheby's catalog for the poker chip industry containing thousands of listings with approximate market value.

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It was December 31, New Year's Eve in Cuba. Thousands of partiers were gambling in the island's famous Havana casinos--among them the Flamingo, Riviera, Tropicana, Hilton and Capri. The reveling ended, however, with word that Cuban President Fulgencio Batista had fled the country, leaving it to revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro and Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

With a new government poised to take control of the island in the coming days, Cuban peasants sacked the casinos that had long barred them from entering. Gaming tables and slot machines were avenues. Nearly 30 years later, the value of those chips has been restored many times over.

Cuban chips have become prized possessions to many within the expanding cadre of casino chip collectors. It is one of the few places where there was an immediate cessation of gambling--at midnight on December 31st, The Revolution and antigaming sentiment is interwoven. While a handful of enthusiasts around the world collect Cuban chips, it is the modern-day gaming chip, primarily from the post-Second World War era in Las Vegas, that is most prized by the majority of collectors.

That period is bracketed by the first hotel and casino on the Las Vegas strip, the El Rancho Vegas, which opened in and closed in , and the strip's latest gaming establishment, New York-New York, which opened in early Ten years ago, casino chip collectors in the United States numbered fewer than Many of them were gamblers who slipped a chip into their pocket as a memento of the action.

The growth of the hobby has been nothing less than unbelievable to longtime collectors, many of whom thought they were the only ones quirky enough to care for little, round pieces of clay and plastic stamped with the names of long-forgotten casinos. Two recent developments have fueled collector interest in casino chips.

The first is the steady spread of gambling across the United States. The second reason may be evident to anyone who's visited a casino in the past few years. New computer-aided design capabilities, laser-etching technologies and manufacturing techniques now allow manufacturers to produce chips with beautiful full-color designs and photographs.

Today's chips rarely have only the denomination and casino name stamped on either side. Most casinos now regularly issue limited editions of chips to commemorate casino events: These commemorative chips are "live" and can be used at the gaming tables, though they're usually snapped up by collectors within days of their issue. The beauty of collecting casino chips lies in their value from the onset.

Most other collectibles lose value after being bought at retail and then may slowly appreciate. Baseball cards, for example, become valuable only after certain star players have noteworthy careers.

The majority of all other cards remain worthless. That's not the case with casino chips. While collectors enjoy watching the value of their collections grow, most acquire chips today because they are drawn to the history of towns such as Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Havana. They had one little craps table and one 21 table. It was just a place to go to dance and hang out for people of our age.

That's where I met my wife. These days, almost everyone who collects casino chips, also called checks or sometimes cheques, has a subspecialty. With an estimated 12, legal and illegal casinos known to have operated worldwide between and , according to longtime chip collector and gaming historian Howard Herz, too many variations and denominations exist for all of them to be collected.

Chip collectors typically collect by region, with the most popular being casinos from Las Vegas, followed by other gaming towns in Nevada such as Lake Tahoe, Reno and Laughlin. Atlantic City is the next most popular specialty, followed by--in no particular order--riverboats, Colorado which legalized gambling in , Indian reservations, cruise ships and non-U.

By far, the most popular niche within the hobby is collecting obsolete chips from casinos in the Silver State, preferably those from Las Vegas. Typically, chips become obsolete in one of three ways: High-denomination chips are particularly valuable to the collector of obsolete chips. He also operates a retail store in Las Vegas under the same name and his personal collection runs to 10, chips. An obsolete chip doesn't have to be old to be valuable, however. The Fremont Street casino was slots only, except for two weeks when it had several gaming tables.

Another recent rarity comes from the Club Royale cruise ship, which once sailed out of Florida. The Club Royale sank in after failing to outrun Hurricane Erin, making chips from the ship some of the most valuable Florida chips available today, according to Florida chip collector Mark Lighterman.

One-dollar chips from the s and s are also surprisingly valuable. That is because they were not created in great numbers. Many collectors shave their area of interest even finer. Some collect chips only from California's card rooms, which have been legal since the s. Others collect chips only from illegal gambling clubs in places like the formerly wide open towns of Newport, Kentucky, and Beaumont, Texas.

Most of the illegal gaming in those towns ended in the early s in the wake of hearings brought by Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver. Others get a kick out of owning chips from casinos associated with gangsters and celebrities such as Bugsy Siegel's Flamingo; Al Capone's Floridian Casino in Miami, in which Capone had a partial stake from to ; and Frank Sinatra's Cal-Neva Lodge in Lake Tahoe, which the singer owned from to but sold after voluntarily surrendering his gaming license because the casino was frequented by known mobsters.

Still other collectors specialize in roulette chips. Nondenominational chips of various color and design that can be played at only roulette wheels, they are often produced in significantly smaller quantities than other table chips a house may have only or so in each color and design and are used to help identify which player has placed which bet on the felt table.

Casinos frown on chip collectors taking roulette chips, because wheel chips are worth whatever a player buys in for. The croupiers' watchful eyes cannot detect every roulette chip that is taken.

When Resorts in Atlantic City introduced colorful roulette chips manufactured by a company called Chipco several years ago, so many chips were taken, or "walked" in the parlance of casino executives, that the casino was forced to remove them from play.

For many collectors, it's the hunt for obsolete chips that excites them. One collector says he found dozens of chips from the Little Club, which operated on Fremont Street in Las Vegas in the s and early s, in the recreation room at an old-age home.

The residents were using them for their evening card games. When chip collectors talk history, the conversation often turns to the most wide-open gambling town of the s-- Havana, Cuba.

With Senator Kefauver shutting down illegal gaming across the United States, casino owners were left with only two nearby areas in which to relocate legally, Nevada and Cuba. The Capri attracted many of the Hollywood elite, who were permitted to gamble on the airplane ride from Miami to Havana. Because of the casino's popularity, its chips are some of the most plentiful of those from Cuba, though they are found in significantly smaller numbers than those from most popular Las Vegas casinos.

One of the premier collectors of Cuban chips, Henry Garrett, has traced 80 casinos that existed in Cuba from to Those casinos issued as many as different chips.

The Tropicana alone issued approximately 75 different chips between and Of those different chips, however, Garrett believes as many as are unique or nearly unique--meaning only one, or two at the most, have ever been seen in the collectibles market.

Garrett buys many of his chips from baseball card dealers who regularly do business in Cuba. The island nation has been baseball crazy since the days when many of the Major League teams had spring training sites there. Garrett believes there are about two dozen serious collectors of Cuban chips in the United States, though many others count at least one Cuban chip in their collections.

Garrett also suspects there are many "closet collectors" among Cuban nationals in Florida and elsewhere. For collectors, the most popular Cuban chips are the ones that have the word Havana, or, in some cases, Habana, printed on them. The Habana Hilton and Habana Riviera are two casinos that produced chips that have become extremely collectable for that reason. Other valuable and scarce pre-Castro chips came from the Havana Yacht Club, considered Havana's premier private social club. As the story goes, the owner of the club fled Cuba within days of the Revolution, bringing with him 60, to 70, of his club's casino chips and stashing them on his escape yacht.

For whatever reason, he threw the chips overboard. The few chips that survive today are those that walked out of the casino in patrons' pockets. In the last year or two, however, chips from Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos have steadily risen in value, while the prices of Cuban chips have plummeted.

The reason, say collectors, is tied to uncertainty over the island's political future. Few Cuban chips are in the hands of collectors today, but many collectors believe that warehouses full of chips could come onto the market should Cuba be opened to the United States.

Thousands of Cuban citizens could have chips stashed away in coffee cans and drawers. People are waiting to see where the price settles. The result has been a precipitous drop in prices for Cuban chips.

Even the most desired Cuban chips are not immune. Still "Cuban chips are extremely important," says Herz, who in the s created the first museum-quality collection of chips and gaming archives for Harvey's casino in Lake Tahoe. Today, the hottest chip collectible is the limited-edition commemorative chip.

Anything under 1, you'll have trouble finding, but the value will go up fast. Here are some examples of commemorative chips in demand: Follow toddprincetv on Twitter. Skip to content Las Vegas Shooting Updates. Vintage ash trays from countless casinos for sale during the 25th annual Casino Collectibles Convention at South Point hotel-casino in Las Vegas, Thursday June 22, Sheldon Smith convention co-chairperson, left, and Jerry Vergatos, future convention president talk during the 25th annual Casino Collectibles Convention at South Point hotel-casino in Las Vegas, Thursday June 22, New Tru by Hilton hotel opens near Las Vegas airport.

Coroner IDs man struck, killed by truck in central valley. Coroner IDs man killed at southeast Las Vegas apartment. December 15, - 4: Driver in custody after 3 die in crash in central Las Vegas. Charlottesville car attack suspect now faces 1st-degree murder charge. Nearly a third of Las Vegas residents plan to travel this holiday season. Final round set for Wynn Golf and Country Club. Firefighter dies fighting wildfires near Los Angeles. California issues 1st licenses for recreational pot market.

Key talks on Raiders Stadium poised to enter home stretch. Las Vegas is an ideal base camp for outdoor adventure. Titus asks committee to allow tax-exempt bonds for Raiders Monte Carlo conversion shows how to get 2 hotels for price of 1.

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Like famous paintings, rare chips can have a wide price range because they are not often traded. Contact Todd Prince at tprince reviewjournal. Follow toddprincetv on Twitter. Skip to content Las Vegas Shooting Updates. Vintage ash trays from countless casinos for sale during the 25th annual Casino Collectibles Convention at South Point hotel-casino in Las Vegas, Thursday June 22, Sheldon Smith convention co-chairperson, left, and Jerry Vergatos, future convention president talk during the 25th annual Casino Collectibles Convention at South Point hotel-casino in Las Vegas, Thursday June 22, New Tru by Hilton hotel opens near Las Vegas airport.

Coroner IDs man struck, killed by truck in central valley. Coroner IDs man killed at southeast Las Vegas apartment.

December 15, - 4: Driver in custody after 3 die in crash in central Las Vegas. Charlottesville car attack suspect now faces 1st-degree murder charge. Nearly a third of Las Vegas residents plan to travel this holiday season. Final round set for Wynn Golf and Country Club. Firefighter dies fighting wildfires near Los Angeles. California issues 1st licenses for recreational pot market.

Key talks on Raiders Stadium poised to enter home stretch. Las Vegas is an ideal base camp for outdoor adventure. Titus asks committee to allow tax-exempt bonds for Raiders Monte Carlo conversion shows how to get 2 hotels for price of 1. Most casinos now regularly issue limited editions of chips to commemorate casino events: These commemorative chips are "live" and can be used at the gaming tables, though they're usually snapped up by collectors within days of their issue.

The beauty of collecting casino chips lies in their value from the onset. Most other collectibles lose value after being bought at retail and then may slowly appreciate. Baseball cards, for example, become valuable only after certain star players have noteworthy careers.

The majority of all other cards remain worthless. That's not the case with casino chips. While collectors enjoy watching the value of their collections grow, most acquire chips today because they are drawn to the history of towns such as Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Havana.

They had one little craps table and one 21 table. It was just a place to go to dance and hang out for people of our age. That's where I met my wife. These days, almost everyone who collects casino chips, also called checks or sometimes cheques, has a subspecialty. With an estimated 12, legal and illegal casinos known to have operated worldwide between and , according to longtime chip collector and gaming historian Howard Herz, too many variations and denominations exist for all of them to be collected.

Chip collectors typically collect by region, with the most popular being casinos from Las Vegas, followed by other gaming towns in Nevada such as Lake Tahoe, Reno and Laughlin.

Atlantic City is the next most popular specialty, followed by--in no particular order--riverboats, Colorado which legalized gambling in , Indian reservations, cruise ships and non-U.

By far, the most popular niche within the hobby is collecting obsolete chips from casinos in the Silver State, preferably those from Las Vegas. Typically, chips become obsolete in one of three ways: High-denomination chips are particularly valuable to the collector of obsolete chips.

He also operates a retail store in Las Vegas under the same name and his personal collection runs to 10, chips. An obsolete chip doesn't have to be old to be valuable, however. The Fremont Street casino was slots only, except for two weeks when it had several gaming tables.

Another recent rarity comes from the Club Royale cruise ship, which once sailed out of Florida. The Club Royale sank in after failing to outrun Hurricane Erin, making chips from the ship some of the most valuable Florida chips available today, according to Florida chip collector Mark Lighterman.

One-dollar chips from the s and s are also surprisingly valuable. That is because they were not created in great numbers. Many collectors shave their area of interest even finer. Some collect chips only from California's card rooms, which have been legal since the s.

Others collect chips only from illegal gambling clubs in places like the formerly wide open towns of Newport, Kentucky, and Beaumont, Texas. Most of the illegal gaming in those towns ended in the early s in the wake of hearings brought by Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver. Others get a kick out of owning chips from casinos associated with gangsters and celebrities such as Bugsy Siegel's Flamingo; Al Capone's Floridian Casino in Miami, in which Capone had a partial stake from to ; and Frank Sinatra's Cal-Neva Lodge in Lake Tahoe, which the singer owned from to but sold after voluntarily surrendering his gaming license because the casino was frequented by known mobsters.

Still other collectors specialize in roulette chips. Nondenominational chips of various color and design that can be played at only roulette wheels, they are often produced in significantly smaller quantities than other table chips a house may have only or so in each color and design and are used to help identify which player has placed which bet on the felt table.

Casinos frown on chip collectors taking roulette chips, because wheel chips are worth whatever a player buys in for. The croupiers' watchful eyes cannot detect every roulette chip that is taken. When Resorts in Atlantic City introduced colorful roulette chips manufactured by a company called Chipco several years ago, so many chips were taken, or "walked" in the parlance of casino executives, that the casino was forced to remove them from play. For many collectors, it's the hunt for obsolete chips that excites them.

One collector says he found dozens of chips from the Little Club, which operated on Fremont Street in Las Vegas in the s and early s, in the recreation room at an old-age home. The residents were using them for their evening card games. When chip collectors talk history, the conversation often turns to the most wide-open gambling town of the s-- Havana, Cuba.

With Senator Kefauver shutting down illegal gaming across the United States, casino owners were left with only two nearby areas in which to relocate legally, Nevada and Cuba. The Capri attracted many of the Hollywood elite, who were permitted to gamble on the airplane ride from Miami to Havana. Because of the casino's popularity, its chips are some of the most plentiful of those from Cuba, though they are found in significantly smaller numbers than those from most popular Las Vegas casinos.

One of the premier collectors of Cuban chips, Henry Garrett, has traced 80 casinos that existed in Cuba from to Those casinos issued as many as different chips. The Tropicana alone issued approximately 75 different chips between and Of those different chips, however, Garrett believes as many as are unique or nearly unique--meaning only one, or two at the most, have ever been seen in the collectibles market. Garrett buys many of his chips from baseball card dealers who regularly do business in Cuba.

The island nation has been baseball crazy since the days when many of the Major League teams had spring training sites there. Garrett believes there are about two dozen serious collectors of Cuban chips in the United States, though many others count at least one Cuban chip in their collections.

Garrett also suspects there are many "closet collectors" among Cuban nationals in Florida and elsewhere. For collectors, the most popular Cuban chips are the ones that have the word Havana, or, in some cases, Habana, printed on them. The Habana Hilton and Habana Riviera are two casinos that produced chips that have become extremely collectable for that reason. Other valuable and scarce pre-Castro chips came from the Havana Yacht Club, considered Havana's premier private social club.

As the story goes, the owner of the club fled Cuba within days of the Revolution, bringing with him 60, to 70, of his club's casino chips and stashing them on his escape yacht.

For whatever reason, he threw the chips overboard. The few chips that survive today are those that walked out of the casino in patrons' pockets. In the last year or two, however, chips from Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos have steadily risen in value, while the prices of Cuban chips have plummeted.

The reason, say collectors, is tied to uncertainty over the island's political future. Few Cuban chips are in the hands of collectors today, but many collectors believe that warehouses full of chips could come onto the market should Cuba be opened to the United States.

Thousands of Cuban citizens could have chips stashed away in coffee cans and drawers. People are waiting to see where the price settles. The result has been a precipitous drop in prices for Cuban chips. Even the most desired Cuban chips are not immune.

Still "Cuban chips are extremely important," says Herz, who in the s created the first museum-quality collection of chips and gaming archives for Harvey's casino in Lake Tahoe. Today, the hottest chip collectible is the limited-edition commemorative chip.

Anything under 1, you'll have trouble finding, but the value will go up fast. Here are some examples of commemorative chips in demand: Before commemoratives, casinos would never tell you how many chips they made.

But limited-edition chips have also been responsible for a great deal of hand-wringing among collectors. Many traditionalists think casinos are taking advantage of collectors by flooding the market with new chips that seem to have little connection to gaming or true commemorative events.

Nor do those chips spark the imaginations of collectors the way older, obsolete chips do. With older, historical chips you think about Meyer Lanskyand the mob. In a month period from January to May , Nevada casinos issued commemorative chips, according to Casino Collectible Magazine. Fifty-nine Nevada casinos issued at leastone commemorative chip in , with four casinos accounting for a whopping 36 percent of all commemorative issues: The Fiesta casino in North Las Vegas issued the most commemorative chips through the first quarter of 15 , followed by the Flamingo Hilton, Laughlin Collectors say there is a simple reason why Four Queens issued the most chips in and why the Fiesta is leading so far in Gene Trimble, an avid chip collector, worked as Four Queens' chip coordinator before leaving in October to assume the same duties at the Fiesta.

Now, all of a sudden, they say there's too many. But even the ones that complain still come in and get the chips. Alhough Trimble admits he's as much at fault as anyone for the glut of chips on the market, it's hard to take offense at someone so enthusiastic about chip collecting. Everybody can buy these chips at face value, and they're beautiful. It gets to be a financial burden for some people, but chips are so easy to dump.

You may not earn a lot of money, but you'll get your money back. Many longtime collectors are less worried about the types and quantities of limited-edition chips constantly being issued than they are about speculators who seem to flood any collectible market that breaks into the mainstream. There are some problems with misrepresentation, people trying to exploit a nonexistent rarity to collectors. It is easy for people to get carried away in a market as hot as chips. The problem of scarcity has been particularly acute with Cuban chips.

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Contact Todd Prince at tprince reviewjournal. Follow toddprincetv on Twitter. Skip to content Las Vegas Shooting Updates. Vintage ash trays from countless casinos for sale during the 25th annual Casino Collectibles Convention at South Point hotel-casino in Las Vegas, Thursday June 22, Sheldon Smith convention co-chairperson, left, and Jerry Vergatos, future convention president talk during the 25th annual Casino Collectibles Convention at South Point hotel-casino in Las Vegas, Thursday June 22, New Tru by Hilton hotel opens near Las Vegas airport.

Coroner IDs man struck, killed by truck in central valley. Coroner IDs man killed at southeast Las Vegas apartment. December 15, - 4: Driver in custody after 3 die in crash in central Las Vegas.

Charlottesville car attack suspect now faces 1st-degree murder charge. Nearly a third of Las Vegas residents plan to travel this holiday season. Final round set for Wynn Golf and Country Club. Firefighter dies fighting wildfires near Los Angeles. California issues 1st licenses for recreational pot market. Key talks on Raiders Stadium poised to enter home stretch.

Las Vegas is an ideal base camp for outdoor adventure. Titus asks committee to allow tax-exempt bonds for Raiders Monte Carlo conversion shows how to get 2 hotels for price of 1. In wake of Las Vegas shooting, McCarran airport saw busiest month. Baseball cards, for example, become valuable only after certain star players have noteworthy careers. The majority of all other cards remain worthless.

That's not the case with casino chips. While collectors enjoy watching the value of their collections grow, most acquire chips today because they are drawn to the history of towns such as Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Havana. They had one little craps table and one 21 table. It was just a place to go to dance and hang out for people of our age.

That's where I met my wife. These days, almost everyone who collects casino chips, also called checks or sometimes cheques, has a subspecialty. With an estimated 12, legal and illegal casinos known to have operated worldwide between and , according to longtime chip collector and gaming historian Howard Herz, too many variations and denominations exist for all of them to be collected.

Chip collectors typically collect by region, with the most popular being casinos from Las Vegas, followed by other gaming towns in Nevada such as Lake Tahoe, Reno and Laughlin. Atlantic City is the next most popular specialty, followed by--in no particular order--riverboats, Colorado which legalized gambling in , Indian reservations, cruise ships and non-U. By far, the most popular niche within the hobby is collecting obsolete chips from casinos in the Silver State, preferably those from Las Vegas.

Typically, chips become obsolete in one of three ways: High-denomination chips are particularly valuable to the collector of obsolete chips. He also operates a retail store in Las Vegas under the same name and his personal collection runs to 10, chips. An obsolete chip doesn't have to be old to be valuable, however. The Fremont Street casino was slots only, except for two weeks when it had several gaming tables.

Another recent rarity comes from the Club Royale cruise ship, which once sailed out of Florida. The Club Royale sank in after failing to outrun Hurricane Erin, making chips from the ship some of the most valuable Florida chips available today, according to Florida chip collector Mark Lighterman.

One-dollar chips from the s and s are also surprisingly valuable. That is because they were not created in great numbers. Many collectors shave their area of interest even finer. Some collect chips only from California's card rooms, which have been legal since the s. Others collect chips only from illegal gambling clubs in places like the formerly wide open towns of Newport, Kentucky, and Beaumont, Texas.

Most of the illegal gaming in those towns ended in the early s in the wake of hearings brought by Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver.

Others get a kick out of owning chips from casinos associated with gangsters and celebrities such as Bugsy Siegel's Flamingo; Al Capone's Floridian Casino in Miami, in which Capone had a partial stake from to ; and Frank Sinatra's Cal-Neva Lodge in Lake Tahoe, which the singer owned from to but sold after voluntarily surrendering his gaming license because the casino was frequented by known mobsters.

Still other collectors specialize in roulette chips. Nondenominational chips of various color and design that can be played at only roulette wheels, they are often produced in significantly smaller quantities than other table chips a house may have only or so in each color and design and are used to help identify which player has placed which bet on the felt table. Casinos frown on chip collectors taking roulette chips, because wheel chips are worth whatever a player buys in for.

The croupiers' watchful eyes cannot detect every roulette chip that is taken. When Resorts in Atlantic City introduced colorful roulette chips manufactured by a company called Chipco several years ago, so many chips were taken, or "walked" in the parlance of casino executives, that the casino was forced to remove them from play.

For many collectors, it's the hunt for obsolete chips that excites them. One collector says he found dozens of chips from the Little Club, which operated on Fremont Street in Las Vegas in the s and early s, in the recreation room at an old-age home. The residents were using them for their evening card games. When chip collectors talk history, the conversation often turns to the most wide-open gambling town of the s-- Havana, Cuba. With Senator Kefauver shutting down illegal gaming across the United States, casino owners were left with only two nearby areas in which to relocate legally, Nevada and Cuba.

The Capri attracted many of the Hollywood elite, who were permitted to gamble on the airplane ride from Miami to Havana. Because of the casino's popularity, its chips are some of the most plentiful of those from Cuba, though they are found in significantly smaller numbers than those from most popular Las Vegas casinos. One of the premier collectors of Cuban chips, Henry Garrett, has traced 80 casinos that existed in Cuba from to Those casinos issued as many as different chips.

The Tropicana alone issued approximately 75 different chips between and Of those different chips, however, Garrett believes as many as are unique or nearly unique--meaning only one, or two at the most, have ever been seen in the collectibles market. Garrett buys many of his chips from baseball card dealers who regularly do business in Cuba. The island nation has been baseball crazy since the days when many of the Major League teams had spring training sites there.

Garrett believes there are about two dozen serious collectors of Cuban chips in the United States, though many others count at least one Cuban chip in their collections. Garrett also suspects there are many "closet collectors" among Cuban nationals in Florida and elsewhere.

For collectors, the most popular Cuban chips are the ones that have the word Havana, or, in some cases, Habana, printed on them. The Habana Hilton and Habana Riviera are two casinos that produced chips that have become extremely collectable for that reason.

Other valuable and scarce pre-Castro chips came from the Havana Yacht Club, considered Havana's premier private social club. As the story goes, the owner of the club fled Cuba within days of the Revolution, bringing with him 60, to 70, of his club's casino chips and stashing them on his escape yacht. For whatever reason, he threw the chips overboard. The few chips that survive today are those that walked out of the casino in patrons' pockets.

In the last year or two, however, chips from Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos have steadily risen in value, while the prices of Cuban chips have plummeted. The reason, say collectors, is tied to uncertainty over the island's political future. Few Cuban chips are in the hands of collectors today, but many collectors believe that warehouses full of chips could come onto the market should Cuba be opened to the United States.

Thousands of Cuban citizens could have chips stashed away in coffee cans and drawers. People are waiting to see where the price settles. The result has been a precipitous drop in prices for Cuban chips. Even the most desired Cuban chips are not immune. Still "Cuban chips are extremely important," says Herz, who in the s created the first museum-quality collection of chips and gaming archives for Harvey's casino in Lake Tahoe. Today, the hottest chip collectible is the limited-edition commemorative chip.

Anything under 1, you'll have trouble finding, but the value will go up fast. Here are some examples of commemorative chips in demand: Before commemoratives, casinos would never tell you how many chips they made. But limited-edition chips have also been responsible for a great deal of hand-wringing among collectors. Many traditionalists think casinos are taking advantage of collectors by flooding the market with new chips that seem to have little connection to gaming or true commemorative events.

Nor do those chips spark the imaginations of collectors the way older, obsolete chips do. With older, historical chips you think about Meyer Lanskyand the mob. In a month period from January to May , Nevada casinos issued commemorative chips, according to Casino Collectible Magazine. Fifty-nine Nevada casinos issued at leastone commemorative chip in , with four casinos accounting for a whopping 36 percent of all commemorative issues: The Fiesta casino in North Las Vegas issued the most commemorative chips through the first quarter of 15 , followed by the Flamingo Hilton, Laughlin Collectors say there is a simple reason why Four Queens issued the most chips in and why the Fiesta is leading so far in Gene Trimble, an avid chip collector, worked as Four Queens' chip coordinator before leaving in October to assume the same duties at the Fiesta.

Now, all of a sudden, they say there's too many. But even the ones that complain still come in and get the chips. Alhough Trimble admits he's as much at fault as anyone for the glut of chips on the market, it's hard to take offense at someone so enthusiastic about chip collecting. Everybody can buy these chips at face value, and they're beautiful. It gets to be a financial burden for some people, but chips are so easy to dump.

You may not earn a lot of money, but you'll get your money back. Many longtime collectors are less worried about the types and quantities of limited-edition chips constantly being issued than they are about speculators who seem to flood any collectible market that breaks into the mainstream. There are some problems with misrepresentation, people trying to exploit a nonexistent rarity to collectors.

It is easy for people to get carried away in a market as hot as chips. The problem of scarcity has been particularly acute with Cuban chips. Garrett says he has come across several unscrupulous dealers in recent years who have misrepresented certain Cuban chips. The scam goes like this: Several months later, the collector discovers the dealer has several more of the same chip.

The value of the supposedly one-of-a-kind chip then plummets.

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The result has been a precipitous drop in prices for Cuban chips. Even the most desired Cuban chips are not immune. Still "Cuban chips are extremely important," says Herz, who in the s created the first museum-quality collection of chips and gaming archives for Harvey's casino in Lake Tahoe.

Today, the hottest chip collectible is the limited-edition commemorative chip. Anything under 1, you'll have trouble finding, but the value will go up fast. Here are some examples of commemorative chips in demand: Before commemoratives, casinos would never tell you how many chips they made. But limited-edition chips have also been responsible for a great deal of hand-wringing among collectors. Many traditionalists think casinos are taking advantage of collectors by flooding the market with new chips that seem to have little connection to gaming or true commemorative events.

Nor do those chips spark the imaginations of collectors the way older, obsolete chips do. With older, historical chips you think about Meyer Lanskyand the mob. In a month period from January to May , Nevada casinos issued commemorative chips, according to Casino Collectible Magazine.

Fifty-nine Nevada casinos issued at leastone commemorative chip in , with four casinos accounting for a whopping 36 percent of all commemorative issues: The Fiesta casino in North Las Vegas issued the most commemorative chips through the first quarter of 15 , followed by the Flamingo Hilton, Laughlin Collectors say there is a simple reason why Four Queens issued the most chips in and why the Fiesta is leading so far in Gene Trimble, an avid chip collector, worked as Four Queens' chip coordinator before leaving in October to assume the same duties at the Fiesta.

Now, all of a sudden, they say there's too many. But even the ones that complain still come in and get the chips. Alhough Trimble admits he's as much at fault as anyone for the glut of chips on the market, it's hard to take offense at someone so enthusiastic about chip collecting.

Everybody can buy these chips at face value, and they're beautiful. It gets to be a financial burden for some people, but chips are so easy to dump. You may not earn a lot of money, but you'll get your money back.

Many longtime collectors are less worried about the types and quantities of limited-edition chips constantly being issued than they are about speculators who seem to flood any collectible market that breaks into the mainstream. There are some problems with misrepresentation, people trying to exploit a nonexistent rarity to collectors. It is easy for people to get carried away in a market as hot as chips.

The problem of scarcity has been particularly acute with Cuban chips. Garrett says he has come across several unscrupulous dealers in recent years who have misrepresented certain Cuban chips. The scam goes like this: Several months later, the collector discovers the dealer has several more of the same chip.

The value of the supposedly one-of-a-kind chip then plummets. As with other collectibles, education is the key to avoiding scams. With casino chips, part of that education is looking at a chip and knowing who made it and in approximately which year. Though a dozen or so companies have made chips over the last century, each with its own distinctive mold designs, only seven supply U.

There are several European companies that manufacture chips similar to those used in the United States, as well as lightweight jetons and rectangular plaques often seen in French casinos. The three largest manufacturers--Paul-Son, Bud Jones and Chipco--each use a different manufacturing process, and their chips are easily identifiable by collectors.

Paul-Son and Bud Jones have made casino chips for five decades, while Chipco entered the market in Paul-Son's chips are made through a compression-mold process and are identifiable by small, uneven colored stripes on the edge of a chip.

The stripes have a "squished" look and appear to be painted on but are actually composed of small, colored inserts that are set into a mold. Under extremely high pressure, the inserts and surrounding plastic material are fused into one solid block. Many Paul-Son chips are also imprinted around the edge with the company's distinctive "hat and cane" mold.

Bud Jones uses an injection-mold process. Instead of squeezing the chips, the process works by injecting plastic material around preformed lettering, denominations and patterns. This creates fine geometric patterns around the edge and rim of the chip. Bud Jones is also well known for its metal inlay chips, which have a metal "coin" embedded into the center. Chipco's chips are made of an injection-molded ceramic material in one-piece construction.

They usually have a non-slip sandpaper-like texture and are identified by full-color graphics that extend to the edge of the chip. Chipco chips are also known for stripes and designs on the rim, and the manufacturer is the only one to print denominations and lettering on the rims.

Paul-Son and Bud Jones credit Chipco with revolutionizing the chip business and fueling the collector market by introducing the first chips with full-color, photo-like graphics. We painted a bull's-eye on them. So did Bud Jones, who is bemused by all the attention casino chips have received in recent years. The company is the world's leader in casino dice, and all Bud Jones-manufactured dice are hand-drilled to this day.

Though few have played a greater role in the manufacture of casino chips, Jones has never been a collector himself and has no intention of starting today. It's not the chip makers that are profiting the most from chip collectors, however. The El San Juan casino in Puerto Rico is believed to be the first casino to have bought a chip that ended up walking in major quantities. Six months later they ordered another15, Caesars in Atlantic City is acknowledged as the first casino to introduce a commemorative chip to the boardwalk.

The casino needed a new set of chips because of a counterfeiting problem, and also turned to Chipco. It's exceeded all of our expectations. Not only did Caesars receive what it thought was a more secure chip, it discovered a sure-fire way to make money. Typically 90 to 95 percent of its commemorative chips walk. When Caesars removed the chip from play, after about a year, only remained.

The Hard Rock casino in Las Vegas has become a big proponent of commemorative chips that feature photographs of rock musicians, and issues approximately one per month. Harrah's Atlantic City, along with Caesars, was instrumental in issuing a special Miss America pageant chip that was jointly circulated in September by New Jersey's casinos--the first time all 12 banded together to issue a common chip.

Harrah's vice president of marketing, Susan Schneider, is a member of the pageant's board of directors, and she persuaded it to allow a photograph of the previous year's Miss America to grace one side of the commemorative chip. The obverse carried the name of the issuing casino. But we realize the collector plays a part in this as well. Even longtime holdouts against commemorative chips have decided they can no longer ignore the market.

DeGregorio, for one, disputes the opinion that casinos are issuing too many different commemorative chips in editions that are too great in number.

If there were 10, collectors, then there wouldn't be enough chips. The first such chip, or trading disk as Paul-Son calls it, was produced in an extremely limited quantity in and given away to San Francisco Forty Niners' stadium superbox holders.

DeBartolo owns the Forty Niners. The latest trading disk was manufactured for the May Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. In the future, Paul-Son envisions the disks, which are made from the same material as its casino chips, being used as high-tech tickets to major sporting events, such as the Super Bowl. The disks, which would be imprinted with a variety of security features, would be kept by ticket holders as a memento.

Whether that will be good for the traditional chip collector remains to be seen. What's assured is that many more people will be clamoring for a little piece of Havana, Vegas and Atlantic City in the coming years. Barry Rosenberg is a New York-based journalist, specializing in business and technology.

Many outlets serve the burgeoning army of chip collectors. To this day, most chip collectors do business by mail. While several retail stores are dedicated to chips and other gambling collectibles, primarily in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, dozens of individuals advertise their chips for sale in the back of the Casino Chip and Gaming Token Collectors Club's quarterly newsletter, in Gaming Times magazine or on the Internet. Box , Wellington, Ohio Membership includes quarterly publication, "Casino Chip and Token News.

Gaming Times magazine Bill Akeman Jr. Akeman also operates what is probably the nation's largest retail store devoted to chips and other casino collectibles. Contact the magazine at: We have disabled legacy CigarAficionado.

To comment on a post, please log into Disqus using your preferred social media account or email address. As in other collectible fields, the rarer an item, the higher the price. Sands chips from the s are among the most expensive because relatively few were made and survived to this day. But only one is known to exist. Dealers, lined up in rows in Ballroom D, keep their best chips, such as s Sands tokens, inside glass cases. Other chips are neatly placed in binders with plastic pockets.

The rest, worth a few dollars, are tossed in plastic buckets. Aside from chips, some dealers sell ashtrays, napkins, slot cards and other items with casino names on them. Show attendance took a hit in the wake of the financial crisis, but interest is now returning, said Tom Pleau, who has one of the largest exhibits at the convention this year with about 50, chips, mainly in binders organized by state.

Many of the associations members, like Smith, began their collection journey by picking up a few chips as souvenirs. The hobby then blossomed into a passion. Like others at the show, Markman also collects coins and stamps. For dealers, the convention is as much about hanging out with other passionate collectors and discussing their common interest as it is about making money.

The three-day event includes a banquet and an awards ceremony for best new chip and card. It is pennies compared with the millions he made on Microsoft and other tech stocks in the s and s. Like famous paintings, rare chips can have a wide price range because they are not often traded.

Contact Todd Prince at tprince reviewjournal. Follow toddprincetv on Twitter. Skip to content Las Vegas Shooting Updates.

Vintage ash trays from countless casinos for sale during the 25th annual Casino Collectibles Convention at South Point hotel-casino in Las Vegas, Thursday June 22, Sheldon Smith convention co-chairperson, left, and Jerry Vergatos, future convention president talk during the 25th annual Casino Collectibles Convention at South Point hotel-casino in Las Vegas, Thursday June 22,

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