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by Vinny DeCarlo

Vinny DeCarlo, a known author and radio talent, is a retired casino veteran of over 24 years working all facets of the business including upper management, pit, cage, surveillance and other departments. Currently, Vinny travels the states as a freelance reporter and a personal consultant to many Native American casinos. According to Vinny, there are two types of casino employees - those that know him, and those that claim to know him; therefore, never believe what you hear.

Note: This story is about a casino promotion involving non-negotiable checks (or cheques), and what happens when a casino marketing department comes up with a promotion that involves these checks but doesnít inform/train the supervisors on the casino floor on how they should be used.

The casino industry is a world within itself. They have a different language, dress code, morale code, and ... get this ... they even make their own money. This monthís topic will be about casino "money," and how a few casinos got caught in their own trap by failing to understand that chips, checks, and cheques are real money. This bonehead move cost them plenty while their Asian high rollers laughed all the way to their casino-comped limo, then continued laughing on the way to the airport, and laughed some more while flying in a casino-comped airplane to Macau, laughing all the way. No, this is not a Christmas carol; itís the sad truth about another casino promotion gone terribly wrong.

Casino Money Clarified

As mentioned above, casinos make their own money; therefore, they can place any value they wish on each round lammer. Letís look at the top three examples.


A "chip" is a round lammer that comes in several different colors and is used in poker and roulette games. The chips have no value until a player purchases a stack of them, and thatís when the "color" of the chip is marked to indicate the value of the stack. For example, if a player walks up to a roulette table and buys a stack of red chips and only wants to pay $20 for the entire stack (of 20 chips) of red, the color red is marked up as 20 because a stack of them is worth $20 (i.e. each red chip is valued at $1). If another person walked up, and bought a stack of blue chips and paid $100 for them, each blue chip will be worth $5 and the blues on that table will be marked up as 100 because a full stack of 20 @ $5 each is worth $100. Therefore, a chip is a non-denominational lammer (round non-metallic token).

Check or Cheque

A check/cheque is a (excuse me) chip with a known value. How do we know? Because itís stamped right on the lammer and is payable on demand like a check that your employer might give to you. As a rule, white cheques are worth $1, red is worth $5, green is worth $25, black is always $100, and pink is always $500. If you have trouble remembering this, donít worry ... itís a check/cheque and the value is stamped right in the middle of it. Simple, huh.

Non-Negotiable Checks/cheques

OK, hereís where things get touchy. A non-negotiable (also known as non-negos) check or cheques is a check with a stamped value but doesnít follow the same color code as the standard $1, $5, $25, $100, and $500 cheques, and they never leave the casino because theyíre stamped "Non Value" or Non-Negotiable" on both sides.

These non-negos cheques are used by casino-marketing folks as enticers to bring business into their casinos and to stimulate them to gamble. For example, a casino host (with the General Managerísí approval) may offer a big player (or potential big player) a "match," meaning they will receive non-negos cheques equal to the amount of cash he or she is willing to place on account at their cage account and used as credit on the tables. Think of it as having one of those pre-paid credit cards that you have to put the money into the account and then you can use the card for the amount you have on account. Simple enough. Well, the casino does the same thing.

Now hereís how the non-negos cheque are supposed to work. You have, letís say $50,000 cash on account with the casino, and they in turn give you $50,000 in non-negos as promised. When you run out of cash gambling, you get to use the non-negos. (Sometimes, a casino will allow a player to use a few of the non-negos alongside of their purchased checks during wagering).

We both know youíre not reading this story because everything is going to work out good in the end. You know thereís a hitch to this story and the only reason my stories donít get old are simple; they are absolutely true (and usually always stranger than fiction). You can take what follows to the bank (just like the player did that Iím about to tell you about).

It was around December, a time when Vegas casino business drops off due to the Christmas holiday. Thatís when our Asian brothers and sisters come to town because most of them practice the religion of Buddha (no Christmas), and they get great deals on travel to Las Vegas during the slow Christian holiday of Christmas. Casino hosts know this; and because travel is so cheap, they can solicit players, and thereís no better way, than with non-negos.

Into the Arena

Mr. Wang Chung puts $100,000 in cash in his account and receives $100,000 in non-negos. The casino allows Mr. Chung to bet his non-negos right off the bat and he does by betting $25,000 a hand on the bank hand (in baccarat). Being an astute gambler, Mr. Chung quickly figures out that when he won a hand, the dealers gave him...

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