Why steal chips from a casino? Expert explains gambling currency

Arriane Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 07 2017 06:41 PM

A casino dealer collects chips at a roulette table in Pasay city, Metro Manila, Philippines, March 27, 2015. Erik De Castro, Reuters

Following last week’s attack at Resorts World Manila in Pasay City, questions on the value of casino chips and why the lone gunman decided to steal them have been raised.

Jesse Javier Carlos, the lone assailant in the Resorts World Manila attack on June 2 that left 37 guests and employees dead, torched casino tables, and stole boxes of casino chips before committing suicide in a hotel room.

As to why Carlos, a former Department of Finance tax specialist, decided to steal casino chips, remains a question.

Gaming security analyst Shaun Mccamley said it was “highly unusual” for a person to go after chips in a casino since these chips have no value elsewhere.

“To steal chips from a casino is just not really heard of very often… It’s highly unusual for someone to come in and try to rob a casino. It’s a very rare occurrence,” he said on ANC’s “Early Edition” Wednesday.

Casino players usually exchange their money for plastic chips so they can play in the gaming area. These chips, which are exclusive to a specific casino only, are later on exchanged for cash by players.

Mccamley, who is also the head of the Asia regional office of Global Market Advisors, explained that casinos usually embed special tags within the "high-tech" plastic chips for monitoring.

“If any chips are stolen, these tags would be deactivated so they would become worthless,” he said, noting that casino staff can easily remove missing chips from circulation.

He said casinos usually have different designs and sets of chips for circulation pegged at different values so that staff can easily monitor whether a chip is missing or if a person tries to exchange a stolen chip for money.

Mccamley also doubts that the gunman was unaware that the chips were worthless outside the casino since the latter worked at the Department of Finance and had experience playing in casinos.

“If he was in the finance department, then he would absolutely know that these chips were worthless and that there was no point in actually taking them,” Mccamley said.