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Chip Counterfeiting – the Latest Heist?

Recently, a man from Missouri pulled off a casino heist that he almost got away with. He might have succeeded if he hadn’t gotten greedy. The man, William Reece Lancaster, from Webb City Missouri took 25 cent chips from the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe’s Grand Lake Casino and using his expertise as a sign painter, turned them into $500 chips. The trouble began when the casino realized that there were many more than the 200 chips they’d purchased in circulation. In fact, Lancaster had added 140 such chips. The fake chips were well-made. The flaws were not visible to the naked eye.

Lancaster could have faced up to ten years in prison and fines of up to $250,000. He pleaded guilty to the charges and will serve six months of probation on house arrest and will have to pay $70,000 in restitution to the casino. Lancaster said that he has a gambling addiction.

Another criminal recently tried something not quite as well-conceived. He photographed chips from some of the bigger Las Vegas casinos and tried to get chip manufacturers to produce those chips for him. Folks, don’t try this at home. The chip manufacturers work pretty closely with the casinos and understand that their clientele need their chips to remain unique. The would-be criminal was immediately turned in.

The lesson here is obvious and twofold. First, if you want to fake chips, you’ll need to do it yourself, and second, you’ll have to make sure you’re not putting too many chips into circulation. In truth, it’s the same issue as any type of counterfeiting. If you fake one or two chips, and you do it yourself, you can probably get away with it. The effort isn’t worthwhile, though. If you want to fake enough to make the effort worthwhile, you’ll likely be creating enough to make someone suspicious. Moreover, if you try to play all of the chips yourself, you’ll definitely get caught.

Basically, it’s not worthwhile. Lancaster probably could have gotten away with his plan if he’d only made ten or twenty chips, but that would have been only a maximum of ten thousand dollars – hardly worth risking jail time for. The reality is that chip counterfeiting isn’t a great way to pull of a casino heist. The only upside is that since it’s a non-violent crime, the penalties are likely to be lighter than, say, armed robbery. Still, though, the best way to get a lot of money from a casino is to own the casino.

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  1. How Not to Rob a Casino | Casino B Blog linked to this post on July 5, 2010

    […] short, if you’re looking to manage a casino heist, you’re going to have to be a little more creative than just waving a gun around and grabbing […]

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