In a constant battle between technology and crime, technology may have claimed another victory. In April of this year, the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa unveiled new cutting edge poker chips that were used in the casino's Spring Open professional poker event. The new chips come in a wide variety of colors and contain security features that include the ability to be authenticated under ultra-violet light.
The move was made in response to an incident that occurred during the Winter Open poker tournament held in January at the same venue. The tournament had to be suspended when it was discovered that counterfeit chips had infiltrated the game. At the time, tournament officials were unclear who the culprit was that introduced the chips.
After the tournament was unexpectedly halted, a North Carolina man and poker pro, Christian Lusardi, reportedly retreated to his hotel room at the Harrah's Resort Atlantic City and flushed counterfeit chips down the toilet. Unfortunately for him, the $2.7M worth of chips clogged the plumbing, resulting in complaints from occupants on a lower floor. In response to the complaints, maintenance workers discovered the chips and were able to determine the point of origination.
Lusardi, who had departed the hotel, was later arrested and eventually charged with a variety of charges, including theft and rigging a public contest. After day 1B of the event, Lusardi held a huge chip lead of 118,500 chips over his closest rival. He had received a $2,000 bonus for his early session prowess. At the time the tournament was suspended, Lusardi had won a total of almost $6,900.
Over the past few years, there have been numerous scams played out at major poker tournament events both online and at "brick and mortar" casinos. It has long been overdue that tournament operators take these incidents seriously and start implementing measures to prevent cheating with so much money on the line.
In addition to the new high-security chips, tournament officials at Borgata mentioned other measures that would be taken to protect players and the integrity of future events. Those additional measures include more security staff monitoring games, and more frequent in-game chip counts.