by Darby Harris
Chip, dice and card products require precision and reliability to maintain security, while custom options can enhance a casino’s brand
The market for table games is getting rosier all the time. In the United States, the young male-led poker boom reinvigorated the market, and now other table games like blackjack, craps and baccarat are enjoying renewed popularity.
Yet these table games would be little more than just empty tables without key elements such as casino chips, playing cards and dice. And with recent enhancements to these products, table game operators are benefiting from expanded appeal and functionality.
A key concern for casinos purchasing chips is security—in particular, preventing the cashing of counterfeit chips. Gaming Partners International has made the manufacture and delivery of high quality wagering chips a cornerstone of their business.
“We are the merger of three companies, and one is over 80 years old, and the other 40 years old. So there’s a lot of experience and consistency in the product and the quality,” said GPI Marketing Manager Laurent Gaubout. “You need to trust somebody to have your chips and dice and cards made because they’re sensitive products.”
GPI® USA—a subsidiary of GPI—offers a variety of gaming chips, including Chipsoft with RFID (radio frequency identification) microchips. Working in concert with the chips are the company’s wide variety of readers for cages, table tops, banks, tip boxes and other implementations—readers that can identify and record 100 different chips in seven seconds.
RFID technology doubles the price of an otherwise average casino chip, but offers security and a multitude of player-tracking opportunities. GPI® USA also provides other security features, however, with ultraviolet pigments and ink. Logos or edge spots with UV ink show up fluorescently under UV light, adding another measure to throw off potential counterfeiters.
Laser Lock material in chips provides a similar safeguard, showing up green under the laser of a special pen. And GPI® USA’s Alpha dot—a microscopic dot with imprinted text—can be read with a lenticular lens, confirming a chip’s authenticity.
“All of our products are custom-made, which means they’re not generic,” Gaubout said. “If you buy a card, dice, even layouts or chips, there is the name of the casino on it.” Traditional custom wagering chips can vary not only in security features, but also in size (39 mm to 48 mm), type of pattern, size of the inlay, and color combinations, with a choice of 64 different base colors, 33 different edge spot patterns and one to three edge spot colors. The choices allow for almost endless permutations.
The company also offers a line of Bud Jones® value chips, plus Paulson® hot-stamped solid color chips (for the lowest denominations) and roulette chips with an inlay and 30 different design options.
VendingData Corporation also manufactures a multitude of chips, including RFID, traditional chips and software for the custom designing of chips. The company’s Dolphin gaming chips use overmolding technology and boast longevity and fade-resistance. Their pad-printed chips are offered as a low-cost and quick delivery option.
The company’s Dolphin Chip Designer software allows operators to use different chip designs and colors to gradually build a chip bank, which can be sent via e-mail, then used to manufacture the chips. The software includes a preview mode, displaying chip designs against different colored backgrounds, simulating the table top on which the chip will be played. Chip Designer is free to Dolphin customers.
“Obviously if the casino purchases RFID chips, they will want to have a method to control that inventory electronically,” said Rolland Steil, product manager of RFID products for Progressive Gaming. “So we’ll provide readers for cage windows, for chip banks, for vaults, for receiving, etc. Anything that’s needed to manage the flow of the chips.”
The company’s Table iD Chip Manager identifies and records every bet made by reading and recording high frequency radio waves emitted by RFID wagering chips. When a chip is placed in the betting circle, a detector plate emits the electromagnetic field that reads the chip and relays the data to the table’s computer.
The system promises to capture coin-in and player betting patterns. Additionally, the management software summarizes dealer and player decisions per hour.
“The leaders in the RFID industry that understand technology, they themselves claim that the technology that we’re using, that we’ve adopted, is the most robust,” Steil said. “There is no other technology that even comes close.”
Dice by design
Like gaming chips, dice are a precision-based product. Without accurate size, shape and weight measurements, the security of dice could be compromised, and the consistency of the game could suffer.
GPI® USA manufactures Paulson®, Bud Jones® and TK®, each with different options for design and security. Paulson® provides the broadest options, with dice sizes ranging from half an inch to .92 of an inch cubed. They come in 10 different color permutations, with three options for edges and three types of possible spots. Each cube has an individual serial number.
Bud Jones® dice come in two sizes and seven colors, with three spot options, two edge options and a serial number. TK® dice also have two possible sizes, but can take on ten different color possibilities, two different spot options, two edge options and a serial number.
All brands include options for sand or polish finish and one or two monograms (available in nine foil colors). For security, GPI® USA dice can have hidden key, glows spot, reverse spot and Laser Lock features. The company offers a variety of packaging options to ensure security, and precision dice measuring products are also available.
A better deal
The United States Playing Card Company manufactures the Bee®, Bee® Stinger, Aristocrat®, Aristocrat® Stinger and Casino Diamond brands of playing cards, which are optimized for use in shuffling machines. Additionally, the cards are “designed by dealers and casino operators for maximum table productivity,” the company’s Web site said.
With proprietary stock and coatings, the cards are designed to be value-priced and performance-enhanced for multiple gaming uses. The cards are customizable, with six card back and logo colors, two deck sizes (poker and bridge), six different back designs (including the option for a completely custom design) and 10 different face style choices. The cards arrive at casinos through bonded and secure deliveries.
Cartamundi, based in Belgium, also manufactures cards for use all over the world. They offer giant index, regular index and 100 percent plastic casino cards, all compatible with shufflers. The giant and regular cards come in smooth or linen finish while the plastic cards have only a smooth finish. All the cards are available with geometric back designs with different color options and TechArt optical scanner layouts, which uses a technology enabling scanners to read a card type as well as index.
The company also produces personalized casino cards and premium casino cards. The custom cards feature personalization of the front faces and tuck boxes with various front faces possible and either a 4 mm white edge or a bleeding-off design with small or large edge corners and multiple options for packaging.
GPI® USA’s Paulson® brand playing cards are 100 percent aqueous coated and are all compatible with all auto-matic shufflers. The face or pip side comes in eight different formats, with a customizable option for large orders. The Circle Back® design on the reverse is completely uniform, preventing a “tell” in the deck, and back designs come in eight colors. Optional logo windows come in seven shapes, and GPI® USA’s art department can ensure customized logos fit properly within the spaces.
After passing through internal security control procedures, cards are packed with serial numbers marking each deck box. “It’s security not only in the product but in the process,” Gaubout said, adding that security is also enhanced through exclusivity—excepting one brand, the company’s products are sold only to licensed casinos.