Casino chips ‘quietly’ disappear from Tropicana Las Vegas before permanent closure

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Ryan Matthey and Linsey Lewis

4 hours ago

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Although one of Las Vegas’ oldest hotels will close its doors for good in less than 24 hours, parts of its casino are already disappearing.

Tropicana Las Vegas doorman Dean Davis has seen people come and go for 33 years, but recently he says it’s the poker chips that come and go.

“There are a lot of people just looking for souvenirs,” Davis said inside the hotel’s Trago Lounge, referring to the increase in foot traffic over the past month. “They ran out of $1 and $5 chips. The only thing they have are the green ones and the black ones.”

Signs posted on nearly every roulette, poker and blackjack table inside this 1950s relic show that you’re out of luck trying to buy the cheapest chips. “We will no longer sell $1 and $5 dollar chips until further notice,” they read.

Signs posted on most gaming tables inside the Tropicana casino acknowledge the cessation of the sale of $1 and $5 chips. (KLAS)

Bally’s Corporation, which currently operates the facility that will close its doors on Tuesday to make way for the $1.5 billion A’s ballpark, confirmed to 8 News Now in a statement Monday that “we have a slight increase in chips that are not are charged”.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board requires that all chips left after a casino closes be destroyed. End customers, whether they allow them or not, provide them with new homes.

On the casino floor inside Tropicana Las Vegas. (KLAS)

Robert McKee, a website designer living in Fort Worth, Texas, now owns an entire shelf of Tropicana potato chips. He obtained them during his most recent “chip grab.”

“(Dealers) were stopping people from coming to buy them, so I had to be a little sneaky,” McKee said during a virtual interview Monday morning, recalling his trip to Las Vegas in mid-March from Texas while holding the chips. he got then. “I was quietly letting them fall into my lap.”

McKee’s collection has grown over the decades since his college years at UNLV in the early ’90s. From The Castaways Hotel to The Desert Inn Casino, he began collecting chips before a property closed since the implosion of The Dunes in 1993.

“The year I went to UNLV was like the genesis of all these mega resorts and also started the trend of all these mega implosions,” McKee said. “EBay came out a couple of years later and I saw these things for $50 each, and I thought, ‘Why didn’t I buy a rack of those?’”

Chips, like those in McKee’s collection, are listed online for much more than they were initially purchased. Even before the hotel closed, a $1 chip from the Tropicana Las Vegas was indicated at twenty-seven times its purchase value.

Poker chip collector Robert McKee (left) shows 8 News Now his rack of chips he acquired at Tropicana Las Vegas before it closed Tuesday. (KLAS)

McKee shares this profit and some of his chips cost up to $85 a piece online. Of the 300 chips he says he acquired before The Riviera Hotel & Casino imploded in 2016, he sold 275.

“(I) sell them one at a time or in stacks of 10,” McKee said. “There will always be someone who will take them off your hands at least for what you paid for them, so you really can’t lose.”

But what doesn’t sell is still a glimpse of history in your back pocket.

“Even though it’s kind of quasi-money, at one point it had value,” McKee said. “People played, you know, decades of blackjack with this stuff. So, it’s a great thing.”

Those in possession of unwanted poker trips from Tropicana Las Vegas have until mid-summer to cash out, if they wish. Bally’s Corporation spokesperson says the OYO hotel, right next to the property, will redeem these chips until July 31, 2024.

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