Regarding the gaming industry, counterfeiting has remained a persistent problem since its inception, but why? In short, fraudsters and con artists have all the incentives they need to ply their trade: gambling winnings with no actual financial risk.
Certainly, a casino could try to catch every cheater who uses fake chips with high-tech digital surveillance. Yet, the reality is that counterfeit chips still get into circulation – and the most intricate copies are nearly indistinguishable from genuine chips. Although the gaming industry is, indeed, diligent, the risk of counterfeiting remains constant. Anyone with a high amount of technological sophistication can exploit flaws in casino chips’ design, so we’ll outline the current countermeasures in this article before presenting a better, more efficient protection counterfeiters can’t readily copy.
Casino chips – Where and why they are used
Simply put, casino chips make it much easier to participate in games of chance. Casinos use them in lieu of using hard currency to lay bets. When you visit a casino, you’ll have to exchange real money for casino chips to gamble; however, this means that chips are a prime target for counterfeiters. But what happens when a casino patron intentionally removes a chip from circulation and takes it off premises? Casinos try their best to track every chip that goes through the gambling floor, yet the catch is that they are not always successful – and criminals exploit the shortfall.
You may not be aware that the most faked denomination is the $100 chip because the natural assumption is that fraudsters would try to copy more valuable chips. It’s definitely not easy to make counterfeits of casino chips. Nevertheless, criminals can produce the counterfeits on a massive scale once they figure out that they’ve created reasonable facsimiles. So, the question is this: what’s the potential damage aside from cheating?
Why is it a problem to have counterfeit casino chips?
The biggest problem with counterfeit casino chips is that the casino must honor the chips’ value once patrons want to cash out. Thus, the casino loses significant profits since they’re unwittingly exchanging fake chips for real currency. If casino owners don’t have a way to identify counterfeit chips accurately, fraudsters will continue to use them in actual games until they are revealed. As a result, countermeasures to prevent the counterfeiting of casino chips developed, but some are more effective than others.
Current anti-counterfeit measures
Without a doubt, the gaming industry understands the risks. Many anti-counterfeit measures exist in casinos, but they’re not perfect. In fact, some are simply outdated and very counterfeit-able compared to others. Let’s go over the usual slate of protections before explaining a better way to safeguard casino chips.
Custom color combinations on the chip edge
Custom color combinations and markings on the edge of casino chips may have worked well several decades ago in the mid-twentieth century, but times are different. Technology plays a much more significant role in the design of chips. The flip side is that criminals can use the same technologies to copy casino chips. All they need to do is figure out the proper dimensions, material composition, and which “invisible” markings are actually on this particular denomination. Once they have all that information, printing custom color combinations and designs on the chip is no longer helpful as an anti-counterfeit measure.
Holographic images were also once reliable protection since the underlying technology wasn’t widely available. Today, unfortunately, it’s pretty easy to purchase holograms online and imprint them on fraudulent casino chips. Once again, it boils down to revealing the actual counterfeit safeguard. Holographic images may look high-tech, yet their widespread deployment makes them easier to counterfeit than in the past. Nevertheless, imprinting holograms on casino chips was a step in the right direction, although holograms are no longer the standard.
Printing serial numbers on the chips as counterfeit protection – even the microscopic variety – isn’t the ideal strategy against counterfeit casino chips. Not only can counterfeiters simply fabricate serial numbers, but they can also make facsimiles of the same chip with the same serial number again and again. Casinos have the ability to identify these fakes if they repeatedly scan chips before a patron cashes out. The problem is that this protection requires additional resources for the permanent screening of every chip denomination. Without a way to identify which ones are real and which ones are fake, no one will be able to tell which casino chip is genuine unless it’s scanned.
Moving along the list of protections, we come to ultraviolet (UV) printing, which is a different tech to protect against counterfeit items, including chips. But once again, concern for the widespread adoption of technology rears its head. The equipment needed to view UV print isn’t proprietary; anyone can acquire it to reveal the invisible UV markings on the chip. Then, the criminals go on to replicate the feel of the casino chip, especially the weight. After all, someone at the casino, or law enforcement, has to suspect the particular chip is a counterfeit.
The last safeguard is the most expensive to implement, which is why some brands have yet to deploy the tech. The issue comes down to cost. How much will it cost to integrate new technology into the casino’s current IT infrastructure? Won’t digital surveillance work as a deterrent. The truth is that not every business is willing to make large capital outlays for technology that may become useless in five years or so, which casts doubt on radio frequency identification’s (RFID) viability in a casino. Still, you’re not powerless against counterfeiters with a genuinely invisible way to spot genuine chips.
AlpVision Fingerprint – Physical Products Protection
AlpVision Fingerprint, a holistic solution that identifies fakes at the product level, comes at a reasonable cost to the organization. The technology pinpoints intrinsic defects in the molds for plastic parts and references the images to see whether or not similar microscopic inconsistencies exist. If they are not present, the product isn’t genuine. Best of all, it’s extremely difficult for counterfeiters to mimic these tiny imperfections. Even if they get their hands on the actual plastic mold, the processes used to create the mold, such as electro-erosion, make random microscopic markings that are extremely challenging to replicate. The cost is also prohibitive for counterfeiters since the required tech is very expensive to exploit.
But when you combine multiple security features, including AlpVision Fingerprint, you’ll have a comprehensive anti-counterfeit strategy and a more robust security posture, which makes it significantly more difficult for criminals to copy goods, such as casino chips.
If you’d like to learn more details about our suite of anti-counterfeit solutionsdownload our latest white paper for more information