Pitfalls, Controversies, and Scams

Brass Core Counterfeits
Slabbing Controversy
How can I tell if a chip is a Fake, Fantasy or Counterfeit?
Auction Scam #1 - over-priced shipping
Auction Scam #2 - not sending exact item that was pictured in the auction

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How can I tell if a chip is a Fantasy, Fake or Counterfeit?
(Question and Link contributed by Phyllis Spagnola)
Fantasy chips are casino chips that are produced with a fictitious casino's name/emblem on them. They're often produced for events or movies (such as Rounders and a couple of the James Bond films) to give a realistic feel to the casino scenes/events in the film. They're not redeemable at any casino and have no inherent value. Fakes and counterfeits are chips that someone has produced to look resemble a real casino's chip. This are obviously produced for criminal pruposes, are illegal, and could result in prosecution if you were to attempt to redeem them at the casino.

The first line of defense (assuming you don't want to end-up with one), is to simply ask each person you trade with or purchase from whether or not their chips are genuine. If they're a member of the CC&GTCC, they're obliged to be honest and disclose such information any way, but if they're not a member, at least asking will give you a line of defense if you later discover the chip is, in fact, counterfeit.

Perhaps the greatest resource in identifying counterfeits is the Fantasy, Fakes, and Counterfeits page at the CC&GTCC web site. Here you can see dozens of pictures of these chips.

Finally, if you suspect one of your chips is a fantasy or counterfeit, post a scan on The Chip Board and ask if anyone can ID it as such. You'd be surprised at how many people are out there that can help you.

Auction Scam #2 - not sending exact item that was pictured in the auction
Sometimes, disreputable sellers will picture a chip that is in very good condition but is not the actual chip they plan on sending. Often these sellers will not mention the condition of the chip in the text of their auction - but rather rely on you to draw your own conclusions from the picture. Sometimes these pictures will be slightly out of focus or far-away so that it would be hard to argue that they didn't send you the exact chip that they pictured.

Sadly, if you find yourself a victim of this scam, there's little you can do about it other than seek satisfaction from the Seller and report them to the auction house if they refuse. To prevent this from happening to you, if the Seller is not explicitly clear as to the condition of the chip being auctioned, email them and ask them what condition it's in. Beware of phrases such as "like new" or "near mint" - make them be explicit. Most won't give you a paper trail with an out-right lie in it. However, when in doubt, it's best to find the chip from another seller who is more upfront regarding condition.

Also, ask the seller if they're a member of the CC&GTCC. If they are, you're protected by the club's Code of Ethics (assuming you're also a member). You'll find it's much easier to get satisfaction on a trade/purchase from a club member than it is from someone else.

Auction Scam #1 - over-priced shipping
Always double-check the shipping cost of an item before placing a bid. The cost of a protective mailer and postage should total no more than $1 - $1.50 for a single chip. Any amount higher than $1.50 usually indicates that the person is trying to be compensated for their personal time, car mileage, cost of gas to P.O., etc. In my personal opinion, if they want to recoup these expenses, they should incorporate them into the price of their item, not hide them in the s&h cost where a bidder might overlook them. If you're not careful, you may find yourself over-paying anywhere from $.50 to $5!

Also, if you're considering bidding on separate chips from a single seller, email them and ask them if they will combine shipping costs. Any reputable seller will do so, but you'd be surprised at home many won't. And don't be surprised if you're double-charged for s&h if you don't ask them to combine it.

Slabbing Controversy
Slabbing is the encapsulating of a chip (or coin, or other item) in plastic. It is graded to its condition and value by a so called "professional" authority who is supposed to utilize a grading system. The owner of the chip or item pays for this encapulating. The chip or item is now sealed in a hard acrylic bubble pack sort of thing where as from that point on you cannot ever touch the chip again, but merely see it in its plastic bubble pack. This practice is common among coin collectors and some slabbers have tried to make the cross-over to the chip collecting hobby, but they haven't been welcomed very warmly.

Slabbing is controversial in that most chippers don't agree that a chip can be universally "graded" since there is no de facto standard or grading system. Also, there is no professional or occupational organization to which you can belong to be qualified as a "professional" grader. Most chippers agree that the practice of slabbing takes a perfectly good chip, subjectively assigns it a "grade", and then imprisons the chip permanently in a block of plastic. Since most chippers are in the hobby for fun and not to make an investment, they see it as a unnecessary practice who's only real purpose is to line the pockets of the slabbers.

There's even a whole chapter of the CC&GTCC formed solely for the purpose of opposing slabbing in the hobby and advocating banning it from club functions.

Brass Core Counterfeits
In 2001, in came to the attention of the CC&GTCC that there existed a number of counterfeited brass core chips. There was a lengthy investigation of the counterfeits and several very detailed reports can be found on the Reference Page of the CC&GTCC web site. Below is a summary of some of the information found on that site...

A brass core chip is a chip that has a plastic injection molded over a brass core. These are not to be confused with the coin-in-center chips produced by Bud Jones Co. In some cases, the counterfeits were produced by removing the plastic from the old brass core and re-molding it, or new plastic, back onto the core. You can differentiate counterfeits from authentic brass core chips by the smoothness of the edges. They were made by hand and sanded and polished and show no machine marks. Also, counterfeits will not have the injection marks normally noticeable on authentic brass core chips. Be wary of odd colored chips and chips in unused condition.

Not all brass core chips are suspect. Generally, chips you acquired before 2000 should not be suspect. If you suspect that you have a counterfeit chip, You should immediately contact the person from whom you obtained the chip. You should seek 100% satisfaction from this person as called for in the CC&GTCC Code of Ethics. If you are not satisfied, you may file a claim with the Club’s Claims Director.

Below is a list of known counterfeits:
CASINODENOMCHIP COLOR
Harrah's$2.50Pink
Ranch House$1White
Crystal Bay Club$5Orange
Crystal Bay Club$100Brown
Harrah's$1Red/White/Blue
Silver Smith$1Red/White/Blue
Hyatt Regency$2.50Green
Reno Ramada$100White
Ranch House$.50Various Colors