Do Poker Chips Expire? What to be Careful About

Did you find some old poker chips somewhere in your storage that you didn’t get to use on your last visit to a casino and wondered if you could still use them again? One question people have asked me time and time again is whether poker chips have expiry dates. In case you’re wondering, you’ll find your answer below alongside other facts you may not know about poker chips.

Poker chips do expire. All casinos produce chips with expiry dates that could be a few months from production or a few years. The expiry dates of poker chips are determined by the casinos that own them.

The game of poker has seen a few rule changes over the years. The Gaming Control Board put most of these rules and regulations in place to try to prevent fraudulent activities by some players. The poker chip expiry date rule is one of such reactionary rules set in place to curb fraud.

Why Do Poker Chips Have Expiry Dates?

While everyone accepts that most things in life have expiry dates, it’s difficult for many people to understand why poker chips expire. What’s the logic behind that? Are they going to explode after their expiry dates? Luckily, no. The expiry dates of poker chips have nothing to do with the quality or freshness of chips; rather, it is about its regulation from the Gaming Control Board.

Poker chips used to not have any expiration dates. This allowed creation of counterfeit chips. Today poker chips have expiration dates of a few months to a few years.

Until the late 80s, poker chips did not expire. You could use your chip for as long as you wanted and not worry about your chips losing its face value. However, the counterfeiting and fraud problem that followed the game during that period forced the hands of the Gaming Control Board to issue regulations that saw poker chips being branded with expiry dates.

The State of Nevada regulation 12 was issued in 1987, and it states that poker chips are the property of the casino, which means that gamblers are prohibited from using chips as a kind of currency outside the casino. While many poker players were not too pleased to hear about chips having expiry dates, it was a law that had become necessary. Before regulation 12, many players treated chips like currency. They could use it to pay off debts, gift it to friends and family members like it was a kind of currency. Back then, anybody could walk into a casino and make transactions with chips they got from outside the casino. This also meant that suspicious minds where motivated to create counterfeit chips that were being circulated in various casinos. 

Regulation 12 ensured that poker chips could only be treated as currency during a game of poker. When a player tries to cash in his poker chips, the casino requires the player to show his card, which proves that the poker chips he’s trying to cash in were earned during a game. If a player cannot prove that he won the poker chips through gambling, he isn’t allowed to cash them in.

What Happens to Old Poker Chips

There are plans made to dispose of poker chips before they are even issued in casinos. The Gaming Control Board ensures that all casinos submit a plan that suggests how they hope to dispose of off their expired chips before new chips are incorporated. When a casino is hoping to incorporate new chips, they are expected to submit a detailed plan that states how the chips were designed, the security features in them, and the disposal plan.

There are various chip disposal companies that are approved by the Gaming Control Board and are in charge of disposing of expired chips. They do this by collecting the chips from the casino and crushing them to dust by a tumbler. Gaming regulations are also required to appear and oversee the disposal of poker chips by approved disposal companies.

Can you Take Your Poker Chips Home

Absolutely! You are allowed to take your poker chips with you. Some people take poker chips home as souvenirs while others believe they could use it on their next visit. Before you do decide to take those chips home, you may want to consider that if you bring them back on a later date, there’s a chance they may have expired and become entirely worthless. Also, there’s a good chance you may lose them or completely forget where you kept them, and in that case, the casino is not liable for your loss.

You can take poker chips home with you. But it is advisable you cash in all of your poker chips before you leave.

If you want to take home some chips as souvenirs, then one or two chips is enough, but if you wish to cash in on a later date, then be sure to inquire from the casino about the expiry date of the chips. That said, the best decision is to cash in on your poker chips right away, to avoid losing or having them reach their expiry date.

Can I use my Poker Chips at any Casino?

Yes, you’re allowed to use the poker chips you got in any casino. However, there’s usually a verification process that you would have to go through to change your chips. This verification is done to ensure you’re indeed the owner of the chips and also to ensure you have no outstanding markers with the casino you got the chips from. The outstanding marker is as a result of a debt you may have incurred at the casino where your poker chips were issued. The rule is that players are not allowed to cash in their chips or exchange them for house chips unless they have no outstanding markers to deal with.

A casino will also check to see if your poker chip has not expired and will demand a player’s card to ensure you won your chips during a game. When all your chips have been successfully verified, you’re allowed to change it.  Also noteworthy is that many casinos are generally not thrilled to change or cash in chips from other casinos. The reason for this is that all poker chips can only be cashed in at the casino it was issued. It means that a casino that accepts a foreign poker chip will still need to send someone to go and cash in those chips at the casino it was issued. As you may have guessed, this costs time and money.

How Long Will Poker Chips Last You?

Let’s touch also on the fact of how long will poker chips be good for if you use them at home games.

Poker chips will last you more than a decade, which is well after their expiration date. I bought my first poker chips set more than a decade ago and poker chips are still in nice enough shape. Sure they get scratched or worn off a bit, but they are still perfectly fine to play with.

It is often true that the more you spend on them, the longer they will last you and expiration dates are there just because they need to be. In fact, the cheapest poker chips are plastic ones and those will last you a lifetime or two, but they don’t really count.

If you are interested in buying good quality poker chips, then I have a nice breakdown of quality poker chips by type and price in this article.

Final Thoughts

If you have a large denomination of poker chips, it’s advisable to cash it in before you leave the casino. If, for any reason, you can’t do that, then ensure that you inquire from the casino management on the expiry date of the chips. Any damage, theft or loss of your poker chips is not the casino’s business, so it’s important to think wisely before leaving a casino with your poker chips.

Related Question

What is the maximum amount of money you can exchange for poker chips?  There is no limit on the amount of money you can exchange for poker chips in a casino. As long as the casino can provide the chip value of the money you’re looking to exchange, there’s no restriction on how much you can get.

How do Casinos spot fake poker chips? Casinos spot fake poker chips by checking the quality of every poker chip submitted by players. Casinos create poker chips that are of the same color, weight, and design. Also, each chip is specially marked with an ink that is only visible under the UV light, making it almost impossible for anyone to create counterfeit poker chips.

Can you cash in old poker chips? You can’t cash in old poker chips because they have already expired. But you shouldn’t throw them away either. More and more people are collecting old poker chips and they might be even worth more than the real poker chip.

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