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Casino Chips with a Coin Inside!

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Most of us have played with clay, plastic, or ceramic casino chips, but there's a fourth type of chip that is slowly being phased out of play. These chips have a metal disc, or coin, visible in the center of the chip. Known as Coin-In-Center, or CIC chips, these chips have simply become too expensive to produce, lack the array of colorful design options that today's casino chips do, weigh more than the average 11.5 gram chip, and do not offer the sophisticated security features such as RFID, micro-dot, or infrared markings. Let's look at a few $1 CIC chips below.

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$1 El Cortez, $1 Fremont, and $1 Golden Gate chips

These are 3 obsolete $1 CIC chips from downtown Las Vegas. The first is from the El Cortez issued in 1974 -- specifically, May of 1974. If you look very closely at the coin just to the left of the $, you'll see the numbers 574. This number represents the month and year that the coin was struck. The chip in the center is from the Fremont and was struck two years later. The last chip if from the Golden Gate and was produced two years earlier. These chips are over 40 years old, but in the years since Bud Jones has improved upon these early CIC chip designs.

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$1 Fremont, $1 Lady Luck, and $1 Palace Station chips

These 3 Bud Jones $1 CIC chips are from the Fremont, Lady Luck, and Palace Station in Las Vegas. These racks were in play for years and patrons have come to love them. Notice that the Lady Luck has a customizes plastic outer ring with their own "LL" logo while the other two casinos use one of the standard Bud Jones molds. These chips were on the tables in the late 1980's. About 10 years later, Bud Jones altered the coin to include their "BJ" logo. Below are the same 3 chips. See the BJ stamped on the coin? These CIC chips wore so well, and were so well liked, you can still find stray CIC chips in the stacks of $1 chips at the craps or blackjack tables in the Fremont or Jerry's Nugget if you look closely.

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$1 Fremont, $1 Lady Luck, and $1 Palace Station chips with BJ logo

One of the more recent casinos to remove their CIC chips was Slots-A-Fun, and not because of anything having to do with the quality of the chips themselves. Slots-A-Fun removed all table games several years ago and is an all slots casino today. What is interesting about the $1 Slots-A-Fun chips are the mold variations. Can you tell the difference between the three $1 CIC chips below?

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3 varieties of the $1 Slots-A-Fun chip

The chip on the left has the "Suits & Dice" mold while the other 2 examples are of the "Suited" mold where the Clubs and Spades are used twice. Now, notice any difference between these last 2 varieties? Remember, if you flip one of the chips over, the suites will be in the same order around each chip, so no difference there. Look closely at the Diamond. It's made up of 2 parts -- the center chip has the right side of the diamond on top while the chip on the right has the left side of the diamond on top. The Diamond is the key and these molds are referred to Right-On-Top and Left-On-Top respectively, or simply ROT and LOT for short.

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$1 Casino 93 chips

Another improvement over the years was to the outer ring. Have a look at the two varieties from Casino 93 in Jackpot, NV, above. The $1 chip on the left has a "Cards & Dice" mold. This mold pressed the images into a soft plastic. These impressions easily filled with dirt and grime, making the chips look filthy. The improved chip on the right has a smooth surface and used the "Suits & Dice" mold we've seen earlier. The green designs are not simply printed on the surface, but are a solid green plastic running through the chip that can't be worn off.

Below are a sampling of $1 CIC chips used in Nevada where they were most popular. Many are from long-gone casinos like Bingo Palace, Holiday Casino, MGM Desert Inn, Sahara, and Stardust. Others are still in play, like those from Colorado Belle and Cactus Pete's. You might have noticed one very unusual chip in the bunch. The $1 Shenandoah Casino is in the 5th row on the far right. Never heard of it? It was owned by Mr. Las Vegas himself, Wayne Newton, and was to open in 1980 just off The Strip, but Wayne Newton never got his gaming license approved and the casino never opened. Bourbon Street Casino eventually opened on that spot before it closed in 2005.

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Assorted $1 Coin-In-Center chips from Nevada

Other states also purchased CIC chips from Bud Jones. A few are shown below from California, North and South Dakota, Washington, New Jersey, and day cruises out of Maine and Texas. Some use one of the standard Bud Jones molds, while others like those from Atlantic City, use custom molds. Some have the denomination stamped into the coin center, while others have it in the outer plastic mold. Some have both.

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Assorted $1 Coin-In-Center chips from outside of Nevada

What has been common about all of the CIC chips we're seen so far is that the coin is stamped, or pressed, using the same die on both sides, so no matter how you flip the chip, heads is indistinguishable from tails. This is not the case with one chip -- the Riverside Inn in Washington. One side is stamped with the $1 denomination while the other is stamped with a silhouette of a cowboy on his horse.

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$1 Riverside Inn chip

I've shown these next 3 chips to illustrate two points. The first two chips are from The Grove cardroom in Everett, WA. Both have the same coin center and both have standard mold designs in white and blue. But obviously both of these chips are different. The white lines, or inserts, running along the outer plastic ring of the chips are different. The chip on the left has the inserts off-set, while the chip in the center has them aligned. When the chips were ordered, quality control wasn't what it is today, and like the "Suited" mold form the $1 Slots-A-Fun chips with their varying ROT and LOT diamonds, these dashed inserts would sometimes be delivered to the casinos as they were to The Grove with differing patterns. As quality control improved, Bud Jones replaced the more expensive manufacturing process of stamped coins, with slick laser etched coins. This enabled them to more easily offer casinos the option of having different designs on each side of the coin. This single chip from the Oaks Club in California includes the cardroom's tag line "Play It Smart" on the reverse.

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$1 The Grove cardroom (2 chips) and $1 Oaks Club chip

Lastly, charity poker rooms in North Dakota were fans of these CIC chips. They can be found in use today in many charity events. The four LOT variety CIC $1 chips below are from the Minot Hockey Boosters, North Dakota Association of the Disabled, Northern Prairie Performing Arts in Fargo, and Souris Valley Humane Society.

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Four $1 North Dakota charity CIC chips

If you haven't played with Coin-In-Center chips, give them a try before they fade into gaming's past. Not too many casinos and cardrooms still use them, but when you cash out a couple racks at the cage you'll think you've won a million dollars -- they're so heavy!


  1. duped_samaritan's Avatar
    I think they still use pink $2.50 chips with a silver coin inserted in Atlantic City at either Harrahs or the Tropicana. (I know I've used them somewhere in the North East within the last year )

    Enjoyed reading.
  2. alpha1243's Avatar
    Sounds like Harrah's Marina. They replaced most denominations with clay chips, but still have some odd denominations, like the $2.50 and $20 chips, of the Coin-In-Center type.