Casinos prepare for new bills

Sep 30, 2003 8:05 AM

Federal efforts to boost the security of United States currency will make it harder to pass phony bills to casino tellers, but may do little to aid counterfeit detection at the slot machines, according to a panel of experts

The panel, convened at the G2E expo two weeks ago," focused on the new security measures being incorporated into the $20 bill, and the potential ramifications they could have on casino operations.

Charlene Williams, plant manager for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, ran down the list of improvements, which will debut on October 9. These anti-counterfeiting systems include:

”¡ A new security thread that runs up one side that has the words "USA TWENTY" and a small flag that are visible on both sides of the note. The thread also glows green when placed under an ultraviolet light.

”¡ Color shifting ink on the number "20" that changes from green to copper when tilted up to light.

”¡ A watermark similar to the portrait of Andrew Jackson on the center of the bill.

”¡ Additional design features such as microprinting in select spots, federal reserve indicators, the deletion of oval borders on the back and front of the bill and a "symbol of freedom," which in the case of the $20 will be the American Eagle.

But perhaps the most jarring change on the new $20 will be the addition of color ”” in this case, blue, peach, yellow and green.

"The new colors are really not a security feature, but it does add complexity and makes it harder to counterfeit," Williams said. She added that new and more secure versions of the $50 and $100 bills will debut over the next two years.

Unfortunately for casino operators, these new security measures may not be of much use to the slot machine. This is because the bill acceptors on most slots may not recognize some of these newer features, according to James Maida, president of Gaming Labs International.

"One of the most successful counterfeits passed at the slot machine involved a bill that was actually colored purple and yellow," Maida said. "It would never fool a human being, but it met all the criteria needed to fool a machine."

Maida suggests ticket-in/ticket-out technology may ultimately be the most secure option for slot machine transactions, since it involves a connected system and validation numbers that can instantly recognize fake tickets.