Fake Casino Chip Player Arrested in Las Vegas 

Police in Sin City have arrested a man who is accused of cashing out several thousand dollars from the city’s casinos using fake gaming chips.

Gratis Woolen Jr. has been hit with 14 charges, including fraudulent gaming activities, possession of unlawful instruments, and burglary. 

He appeared in Clark County Court late last week after being arrested on April 10. Judge Melissa Stratton set a $1,000 bail, which Stratton has posted. He is due to return to court this week on Thursday.

The Incidents 

On April 10, Woolen was booked by police after a disturbance at an unnamed Las Vegas Strip motel. After looking up his details, police realized Woolen matched the description of a wanted casino chip scammer. 

The investigations into the counterfeit chips began last year in January. Fake $1,000 chips were cashed by a male suspect at Harrah’s Las Vegas, The Linq, The Cosmopolitan, and the Golden Gate Casino on Fremont Street. 

An unnamed woman is also being sought regarding the fake chips, although it is unknown at this stage if that was intentional. She reportedly tried to cash a Golden Gate Casino chip at The Linq before being told to take it back there. 

The counterfeit chips were eventually reported, but not before the male suspect cashed them out and left. 

When investigated by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, an officer found the fake Golden Gate Casino chips were of low quality, with stickers that easily peeled off.  

Fake Chips 

Woolen is accused of possessing and using the fake chips, of which he allegedly cashed out at least several thousand.  However, his apparent scam was let down by the low quality of his fakes.

Others can make chips real enough to fool casinos for months, or even years at a time. In the 1990s, one group made millions by upgrading $1 chips to $100 chips before being caught, as documented in this video. 

That included a $5 million bail price, which was reportedly higher than that given to murderers and high-level mobsters at the time. 

However, in the modern day, casinos have caught up. New tech such as internal microchips, UV glowing paints, and increased casino floor surveillance have increased the likelihood of detection.

But for every scammer caught, there are surely more that aren’t. So it’s impossible to know exactly how much Las Vegas casinos lose each year to counterfeit chips.

One criminal who used an (arguably) less-sophisticated method was also recently banned from all Nevada casinos by state regulators. Ahmed Hearne is suspected of simply walking up to blackjack tables in Las Vegas casinos, stealing armfuls of chips, and running away with the loot. Last Thursday, he was added to Nevada’s infamous list of excluded persons.

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