If you use a counterfeit chip during a poker game, are you guilty of counterfeiting chips? That’s the question being raised after a member of the US Navy has been accused of being involved in the production of fake casino chips.

Rear Admiral Timothy M. Giardina was fired last year as the No. 2 commander of US nuclear forces after the Navy had been investigating him for using counterfeit chips. After the investigation got underway, Giardina admitted that he played fake chips in a poker game at Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa, back in the summer of 2013.

However, playing counterfeit casino chips and producing them are two very different things, according to the Admiral. Giardina says he had no idea the chips were counterfeit when he played them.

But here’s the thing. The counterfeit chips weren’t all that great. In fact, they were simply an adhesive sticker placed atop the chip to change the value of the $1 so that they’d look like $500 chips. CSI-style tests found Giardina’s DNA on the underside of the adhesive.

It’s possible that DNA could have been transferred to the underside when an Iowa state investigator removed the sticker to see if the chip was counterfeit. The investigator was obviously not using proper tactics.

One thing is certain. Giardina brought the chips to the table. He admitted so, though argued that he didn’t know they were counterfeit. According to a statement, Giardina claims he found the chips in a toilet stall at Horseshow and decided to put the chips in play at a poker table.

This isn’t the first casino story that includes counterfeit chips and toilets. Earlier this year, play was suspended at The Borgata in Atlantic City after counterfeit chips were discovered in a major poker tournament. Only 27 players had remained when the tournament was suddenly halted. The counterfeiter was apprehended after he broke his hotel room plumbing trying to flush counterfeit chips down the toilet.

The Borgata counterfeiter was charged for his crimes and faces time, but it’s not yet clear how Giardina’s case will play out.

No matter what happens, one thing is for certain. When I play in a live casino, I’ll be sure to examine every chip before I place a bet. Thankfully, we don’t have this problem online at Silver Oak Casino.


Simon is an overactive gambler and the Staff Writer here at Silver Oak. He loves casino bonuses, online slots, and using the em dash too often. Currently, he rests his typing hands in Vancouver, Canada.