The Art of Casino Collectibles: From Chips to Cards and Beyond

For centuries , casinos have enticed gamblers and others with the promise of big wins and the thrill of gambling. We’ve all heard of legends like “Big Ben” the slot machine that paid out more than $100 million in winnings during the Great Depression, or “The Big Wheel” that became the first casino game in the world.

But, of course, casinos have been around far longer than that . In fact, the first written record of a casino can be found in China in A.D. 221, and it was during this period that gambling became popularized around the world. Over time , casinos flourished and spread throughout the world, and their artwork became as popular as their gambling games.

The first casino, “L’Empereur”, opened in Macau in 1669, and the city quickly became a popular destination for European travelers. Macau is just one of many cities to have become a hub for gambling, with its casino revenues rivaling Las Vegas . Today , there are more than 2,000 casinos around the world, with about 20 of these being in Macau alone.

In America , gambling is nothing new — it was already common for Native Americans to play poker and other games with local tribes long before the arrival of European settlers .

Of course, casinos in America were already popular when the country was founded, and George Washington was one of the first major American figures to be featured in artwork in a casino . His portrait was placed on the gaming table at George’s Town in the Bahamas , now known as Nassau.

In the 1800s , casinos in the US were organized under different laws in different parts of the country . In Florida, for example, the state government established the first licensed casino in 1867, while Indiana had legal gambling as early as 1830.

Many of the casino bk8 in the US were established by Native American tribes . These tribes built their casinos in areas with large Native American populations , such as the Great Plains and Midwest. The Seminole Tribe of Florida had a casino in Kissimmee before the state even became a state in 1845. Other casinos included “Chief Osceola’s Gambling Hall” near Orlando, and the “Riverboat” in downtown Chicago.

In the early 20th century, a new form of gambling emerged in Reno — gambling via slot machines. The earliest slot machine was invented by Charles Fey in San Francisco in 1895 . Fey’s invention was so successful that by the 1920s there were more than 200 ,000 slot machines being installed in casinos across the US.

But these weren’t the only forms of gambling available in the earliest days of the 20th century — there were also live casino games ! In the 1900s , there were gambling houses and racetracks across the US that had slot machines and games like roulette and craps .

These early forms of gambling spread quickly throughout the US when Prohibition was established in 1920 . The sale of alcoholic beverages was banned in all states except North Dakota and Utah. This ban effectively shut down most of the country’s bars and taverns , which were located within walking distance of most homes — thus making it easier for people to make illegal purchases such as alcohol or gambling chips.

So how did this change affect casinos ? Well , when a drink ban was imposed on a state, many bars began offering food instead of alcohol to patrons who wanted to continue drinking after Prohibition was enforced . The popularity of food as a drink substitute led to the creation of the first drive-in restaurants in the 1920s.

As Prohibition was repealed in each state during the 1930s and 1940s, there was a boom in the gambling industry in the US . However, as the number of legal casinos and bars increased nationwide , so did the number of illegal casinos and gambling operations.

In the US today , there are more than 20 casinos for every 100 million people — that’s almost twice as many as Sweden and four times as many as the UK. With such strong competition between casinos to attract customers, it’s no wonder that casino owners today often spend millions of dollars on elaborate decorations for casinos that tell a unique story .

Casino attractions are a big part of what makes a visit to a casino exciting. After all , it’s one thing to play at a casino for a few hours but another to visit a casino and spend hours among the lights, sounds, and sights of a themed area. And it’s not only brick and mortar casinos that create these attractions — online casinos also build elaborate areas to draw players to their sites .

These attractions can be anything from a themed restaurant to an elaborate indoor roller coaster — and everything in between !

1 . Chips

The first thing you’ll see when you visit any casino is a stack of colorful chips — and that’s because chips are an integral part of the casino games themselves. Casino chips are often referred to as “money of the casino” because they are used to pay for games of chance. They are also used as currency in many casinos in the US today .

Chips were originally made from ivory and stone . When these stone chips got worn down over time , they needed to be changed completely — a process that would sometimes take weeks to complete.

In 1879 , Hippolyte Lachenal of France patented a machine for making ceramic poker chips . This new machine made it possible to produce smaller chips made of ceramics — and the ceramic chips quickly replaced the old ivory ones in popularity.

In the early days , ceramic chips were only available in solid colors like white or green — but that changed in the 1930s when colored chips were introduced by Nevada casinos to promote the image of their casinos as entertainment venues — rather than being simple gambling halls .

Today , a wide range of colors is available to casino chip makers to differentiate their games from those of other casinos . But the most popular color by far is still red — although blue and yellow are also popular choices.

Like with most of our other collectibles in the modern world , today’s chips are highly sophisticated pieces of technology that are manufactured by specialized chip manufacturers using advanced manufacturing techniques . These chips use complex molds to create intricate designs and patterns.

All casino chips are stamped with a number denoting their value — for example , a $1 chip might be stamped with a #1 or a $5 chip might be stamped with a #5 . This makes keeping track of your playing bankroll much easier !

These numbers aren’t etched into the chips themselves , but rather printed on them by specialized equipment that traces the number onto the chip. Chip manufacturers also use a range of colors for chips in order to make them easier to distinguish from each other .

Chips are graded in various sizes based on the amount of money they contain . For example , $1 chips are the smallest chips and are also known as “quarters” and “pennies”. $5 chips are called “fives” and “nickels”, while $10 chips are known as “tennies” and “dimes” and so on.

Chips come in various shapes as well — the most common shape is rectangular , but square and round chips are also common .

2 . Slots

Slots are one of the most popular casino games in the world. In fact , they’re so popular that they’ve evolved to become a video game in their own right ! The three most popular forms of slots are pull-tab slots, mechanical slots and video slots .

Pull-tab slots are the oldest form of slots and consist of a single reel inside a wooden box that has metal flaps along one side that can be opened and closed manually by pulling the tabs up or down . These machines first appeared in the US in the late 1800s and are still popular today.

Mechanical slots are similar to pull-tab slots but are large machines that use an electric motor to spin the reels .

Video slots are by far the most popular form of modern slots — these slots use computer chips to track the spin of the reels and display a video image of the results on the touchscreen of the machine .

Slot games are usually played by inserting a coin into the slot of the machine and then pressing the spin button — this activates the machine and allows the player to select the number of paylines he/she wants to play . The player is then paid based on the symbols/images on the payline he/she has picked.

Slot machines are popular for many reasons — including their simplicity that makes them easy to learn and play and their wide range of bets available that range from simple penny games to wagers worth thousands of dollars .

3 . Blackjack

Blackjack is one of the most popular card games in the world — and it’s easy to see why ! The game involves betting on the player’s hand of cards or the dealer’s hand of cards in an attempt to beat the house or bank who deals out the cards .

The basic concept of blackjack is simple — the player gets two cards for himself and has the option of hitting (drawing a new card) or standing (leaving his hand as is) . If the player’s hand is higher than the dealer’s hand , the player wins the hand and takes the house’s money.

The dealer gets two cards for himself as well — one face-up card and one face-down card. The face-up card is used to determine the dealer’s value — if the dealer’s face-up card is an ace , he/she automatically loses the hand and pays all winning bets to the player who placed those bets. If both the player’s and dealer’s hands have the same value, then the player wins the hand .

The dealer must stand on all 16 cards in the game unless he has a hand that is worth more than 21 — in which case the dealer loses the hand and pays all winning bets to the player who placed those bets .

Players don’t usually play blackjack by themselves — instead they hire “croupiers” to deal the cards for them . A “croupier” is an employee of the casino who deals the cards to the players at the table and collects all the bets from the players during the game.

4 . Roulette

Roulette is a popular gambling game that involves betting on where the ball will land when you throw a roulette ball into a spinning wheel with numbered pockets on it. Players usually place their bets by placing a chip on the number they think the ball will land on or on a group of numbers together known as a “line” — the fewer numbers on a line , the higher the payout if the bet wins .

Roulette wheels come in two basic designs — the European wheel and the American wheel . The European wheel only has 37 numbered pockets divided into 12 groups of three pockets each and the American wheel has 38 numbered pockets divided into 13 groups of three pockets each.

Although the two wheel designs have different numbers of pockets on them, they have the same betting limits for players and require the exact same skills to play. The only difference between the wheels is the distance from the center of the wheel to the outer rim . Generally speaking , the European wheel has a smaller range and pays less per number while the American wheel has a larger range and pays more per number.

Roulette games are usually played on a large table according to certain rules of the game. The dealer spins the wheel in one direction while an assistant spins the wheel in the opposite direction to make sure that the ball stays within the wheel’s perimeter while it is spinning .

The dealer then calls out a number from 0 to 36 depending on the version of the game being played to indicate where the ball will land — if the ball lands on that number , the player wins his/her bet. If the player bets on a group of numbers on the wheel that are adjacent or overlapping, the player wins if one of the numbers in his/her group is the winning number .

If the player bets on a number that isn’t one of the winning numbers , the player loses his/her bet .


Jimmy Clark is a writer and a casino player. He also owns a casino site named He is also a traveler and a photographer at heart.