Casino tokens (also known as casino or gaming chips, checks, or cheques) are small discs used in lieu of currency in casinos. Colored metal, injection-molded plastic or compression molded clay tokens of various denominations are used primarily in table games, as opposed to metal token coins, used primarily in slot machines. Casino tokens are also widely used as play money in casual or tournament games.
Some casinos also use rectangular gaming plaques for high-stakes table games ($25,000 and above). Plaques differ from chips in that they are larger, usually rectangular in shape and contain serial numbers.
Although the first gambling house was legalised in Venice in 1626, actual poker chips as they are now known were still not used for over two hundred more years. Back in the 19th century and prior, poker players seemed to use any small valuable object imaginable. Early poker players sometimes used jagged gold pieces, gold nuggets, gold dust, or coins as well as "chips" primarily made of ivory, bone, wood, paper, and a composition made from clay and shellac.
Several companies between the 1880s and the late 1930s made clay composition poker chips. There were over 1000 designs from which to choose. Most chips were white, red, blue, and yellow, but they could be made in almost any color desired.
Source: Casino token from Wikipedia
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