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The casino coins and collectable business has taken a few hits as we all have, but 25 years of conventions is proof the members are one hardy breed.

“I’m proud to say that South Point has given us a four-year contract extension,” said Sheldon Smith, Casino Chip and Gaming Token Collectors Club national vice president and publicity director. “I am optimistic about the hobby.”

The national convention arrives for a three-day stay at South Point beginning Thursday. It’s the 25th anniversary of the club’s founding and 21st convention. South Point has been the host the past five years and has given the industry a much needed boost.

“Michael Gaughan at South Point has been very good to the members of our club,” said Smith, who is also the club president at the local level. “The facility is great, the showroom upstairs is wonderful and the restaurants are very nice. We have a great time there.”

The convention usually attracts between 750 and 1,000 visitors over the three days. That’s a figure Smith is satisfied with, though admitting at the local level there is room for improvement.

“We hold meetings the second Tuesday of each month at the Leatherneck Club (Spring Mountain and Arville location) where we talk about the business, have auctions and invite guest speakers,” Smith said. “I am optimistic about the hobby. Most clubs have lost members because of the economy, but I don’t see any drop in the number of people still wanting to buy the chips.”

Smith said he personally does a lot of selling on Ebay and has a large clientele.

“The hobby is doing fine, we just need to attract more members,” Smith said. “The exposure we get from South Point helps us attempt to do that.”

Rob Perrault has been going to the local meetings since joining the business three years ago. He caught the bug seeing limited edition Hard Rock chips on line.

“I used to collect coins as a kid,” Perrault said. “Then I got into dice and everything casino related. My interest escalated rather quickly. I collected some baseball cards, bottles coins and stamps as a kid.”

Perrault shares Smith’s view about the industry being slow on the local level yet seeing the situation being not as bad as it was a couple of years ago.

“It’s a friendly hobby, especially when you are able to get the chips,” Perrault said. “This will be my third year attending the convention. You never know what you will see. I pick up new items from the casinos and vendors and buy them at face value.”

Perrault said most of the valuable chips are from the 1960’s during the Rat Pack days in Vegas.

“I have a few chips from the Debbie Reynolds (now the Clarion and formerly Greek Isles on Convention Center Drive) and O’Shea’s, which is now closed,” Perrault said. “Chips from old cruise ships and ivory casino chips also carry great value.”

Mark Mayer has over 35 years covering sports events and is the sports editor at GT. Reach him at [email protected].

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