Trivia and Miscellaneous

The higher end of the chip collecting hobby is alive and well. While I don’t have specifics, I have heard of very rare chips hitting the high $xx,xxx range, possibly higher. In fact, a rare Showboat $1 chip sold on e-bay in early 2008 for just less than $30,000.

Thousands. Although many people don’t realize it, collecting casino chips is a favorite hobby of thousands of people around the world. Membership in the CC&GTCC totals over 2500, and it’s membership is estimated to be only a fraction of the total number of collectors world-wide.

The answer to this is a resounding YES! Most chip collectors are known to collect other casino-related items such as room keys, slot cards, playing cards, dice, and ashtrays. Some of the more – how shall we say it – “obsessive” even collect things such as pens, matchbooks, napkins, swizzle-sticks, menus, Do-Not_Disturb signs, shampoo, soaps, and more. It’s a good bet that if something has a casino’s name on it – you can find someone who’ll collect it!

Yes, they do. And yes, some pay face value for these chips – especially if they’re still accepted at the casino of issue – although many are available at below face value. I know that’s a lot of money to spend on chips for your average collector, but when compared to the prices paid for some of the really rare and valuable chips, it’s a drop in the bucket.

Casinos commonly accept chips from other casinos in their area. Because a chip is a negotiable instrument at the casino of issue, each casino can return it and cash it in at the casino that issued it. The effort of redeeming the chips at the original casino is a small price to pay to allow a customer to use it to gamble at their own establishment instead of sending them back to the original casino.

Thus, casinos have what is referred to as a “foreign chip box” where they collect all the chips that they have accepted from other casinos. Periodically, they sort the box and return the chips and redeem them at the original casinos. Some casinos use runners while others use businesses that perform these services for casinos.

And yes, if you ask, and if you’re lucky, a casino may allow you to peruse its foreign chip box and allow you to purchase the chips from them.

I think the basic problem most have with “slabbing” isn’t the slabbing itself, but the manner in which third party grading of chips becomes a de facto standard needed to determine the worth of a chip. In the case of coins, items aren’t seen as “truly valuable” unless they carry an official grading and have been slabbed.

Since most collectors are in it for the fun of assembling their collections and (as in my case) the stories that go along with the obtaining of the individual pieces in the collection, grading and slabbing add nothing to the real value of the items (which is all about fun anyhow – it has nothing to do with $$$). As such, it just ends up being a money drain serving the purposes of the slabbing companies and not the collectors.

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