"Cardcounting" is technically legal, but frowned upon by casinos, because it violates the "unwritten law" that casinos are supposed to come out ahead. When card counters are caught, casinos can expel them under threat of being charged with trespassing.

But apparently casinos sometimes do more than that, like refusing to cash out their chips, or taking card counters to back rooms for questioning. (Detention and questioning are powers supposedly reserved for law enforcement. The casinos are only supposed to detain people until the police arrive.)

How do casinos manage to conduct such "extrajudicial" proceedings? Do the police and courts turn a blind eye to them because the casinos are important to the local economy?

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    The "club" description given here is interesting. Also, read to the bottom. In at least one case, someone sued for the actions taken against here, and won.
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 18:39
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    The question needs better facts. If they refuse to cash you out then take your chips home. If they ask you to "come with them" just say no. People who cave to that stuff do just that, they cave. And that's how casinos get away with it.
    – jqning
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 19:44
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    Does this happen in 2015 outside of movies? I liked "Casino" "Heat" and "Oceans 11". Do you have a link to a news story?
    – user662852
    Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 0:48
  • @user662852: Added a link to 2014. Close enough for you?
    – Libra
    Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 1:30
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    I wonder if this has something to do with being on a "Reservation" or tribal law? (I have not looked at the 2014 news story so the comment is not directed to that specific example.)
    – Andrew
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 20:06

1 Answer 1


Extrajudicial implies there is some weight of law behind the casino behaviors you describe.

I don't think there is.

For example, refusing to cash out chips could just be a management intimidation tactic to try to coerce the customer into agreeing to be "questioned." Which the customer would be under no legal obligation to do.

Card counting can't be proven if the counter is not using a device of any kind. The casino can refuse to serve the customer and expel the customer but they can't unilaterally keep the customer's money by not cashing the customer's chips without a judgment.

I am not an attorney. This answer is not legal advice.

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    Is there an enforceable contract or law supporting the value of casino chips? After all, they are just tokens whose value is presumably backstopped by the faith and credit of the issuer. Maybe they are the casino's ultimate protection. Can the casino not just say, "Hey, we sell these things as souvenirs. We don't have to buy them back at any price." (Granted, unless the casino goes into full default, presumably the wise customer could leave with the chips and send others to cash them out.)
    – feetwet
    Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 14:25
  • There is no purpose to proving card counting as it is not illegal. The casino just observes betting patterns and concludes the person is counting. It is pretty easy to spot - casino counts the deck and observes if the player is changing bets consistent with the count. Just changing bets is an alert and if 12 bets in a row are consistent with the count casino can conclude statistically the person is counting. They don't need to prove it.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 15:03
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    @feetwet: I think the casino is bound to cash out chips on demand by the chip bearer. To my senses, casino chips are a de facto debt instrument redeemable by the bearer. Consider the following legal theories of reasonable expectation, implied-in-fact contract, legitimate expectations and estoppel. Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 18:36
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    @feetwet Who would play at a casino whose chips weren't guaranteed to be redeemable for cash? In any event, it's heavily regulated. In Nevada, for example, a casino cannot refuse to cash out a chip unless it provides 120 days advance notice that it intends to make such a refusal, which would give the customer 120 days in which the law requires the casino to permit him to cash out. Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 0:16

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