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The Story of the Playboy Casino Chip Find

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This is the story of my $2.50 Playboy Casino chip.

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Do you ever wonder where casino chips go once the property no longer needs them? Casinos get rid of chips either because they've replaced/updated their house rack of chips, have sold to another owner, or have just closed their doors. Each state has laws in place dictating what must be done with old chips. For example, in Nevada the chips must be destroyed, and in Washington they can be sold as part of a liquidation. In either case the chips cannot be cashed in. Not the case in New Jersey.

New Jersey requires that chips from closed casinos be destroyed, but before doing so, a final audit of outstanding chips is taken and funds against these chips is put on account with the NJ Casino Control Commission. This means that if you've got a chip from a NJ casino that no longer exists, you can redeem the chip with the CCC.

The Playboy Casino opened its doors in Atlantic City on 14 April 1981. I played there several times and vividly remember the blackjack dealers, dressed in bunny outfits, bending over their tables as they stood in front of mirrored columns to give patrons an eye full. After a short 3 year run, the Playboy Casino closed their doors. The casino then became the Atlantis until it was closed down by the CCC in 1989. It was then Trump Regency (hotel only) and in 1996 became Trump's World Fair until the site was demolished in 2000.

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When the Playboy closed in 1984, they inventoried their chips and deposited $450,000 with the CCC to cover the value of their outstanding chips. The chips were then shipped to the Green Duck Corp., in Hernando, MS, to be destroyed. Green Duck manufactured slot machine tokens as well as provided the service of destroying old casino chips. The old chips would be chopped and the metal centers recycled.

On 14 April 2008, exactly 27 years since the Playboy opened, construction workers were digging up the sidewalk of a community center in Mississippi (once the site of Green Duck Corp.). Under a slab of concrete were thousands of chips from the Playboy Casino. Some workmen scooped up the curious chips and, at the end of the shift, the practice was continued by some locals. Souvenir chips were even taken by the police chief and mayor of Hernando.

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Playboy Casino chips were rarely redeemed by the CCC in 2008, mainly because of the price these obsolete chips could fetch on the secondary market. Casino chip collectors would routinely pay $20 for a single $1 Playboy chip, and the rarer higher denomination chips, like the $100s and $500s, were valued at $3,000 or more.

Within days of the find on the former Green Duck property, casino chip dealers were inundated with calls from people wanting to sell bags of Playboy chips. Chips were even put up for sale on eBay. Not only were a few unsuspecting buyers caught up in the races to sell the newly discovered Playboy chips, but as you'd expect with a flood of chips hitting the market, the price dropped to less than a buck a chip. Collections, once valued in the 5-figures, were now virtually worthless.

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Once the CCC became aware of the find, they stopped the redemption practice for the Playboy Casino. Only $12,000 of the original $450,000 was ever paid out. The CCC opened an investigation into Green Duck. One VP stated that she remembered getting the contract from Playboy to destroy the chips, but was stunned to hear that they were found buried under the sidewalk.

The Las Vegas regulars will remember a time before 1987 when Nevada Gaming mandated that casinos destroy their chips. Many properties would simply mix their old chips into concrete when pouring foundations for new buildings. Chips were famously found from the Dunes, Jockey Club, and Sands.

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