Industry Insiders: Coronavirus Leads to Business Boom for Clay Dubois, Founder of Elite Chip Care
Casinos and poker rooms across the country are shutting down due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Both are largely considered ideal breeding grounds for a virus given patrons are in close proximity and often handle the same cards and chips.
One of the measures considered to combat the Coronavirus is the cleaning of chips, which any player can tell you isn’t done as often as it should be. Many venues are forced to clean poker chips by hand, while some venues have specialized washers that are capable of cleaning a limited amount of chips.
Enter Elite Chip Care, a business established by casino industry veteran Clay Dubois in March 2018. The company offers on-site service for cleaning/sanitizing casino chips to the cruise ship, casino, and card room industries. What separates them from all other options are they’re able to clean, dry and re-rack up to massive 150,000 clay, ceramic or plastic chips per day thanks to their proprietary ultrasonic cleaners used in conjunction with their patents-pending chip baskets
In 2019, Casino Journal Magazine awarded Elite Chip Care 'Top 20 Most Innovative Products.’
“As the only system and service available in the world to clean large volumes of chips, we are fielding information requests from virtually every gaming jurisdiction in the world."
Business is Booming
While the Coronavirus has negatively impacted numerous industries, Dubois’ niche is booming as venues across the country have reached out to him. They’re currently working with some of the nation’s largest gaming corporations and casino resorts including Venetian Las Vegas, Encore Boston Harbor and card rooms in Los Angeles.
“As the only system and service available in the world to clean large volumes of chips, we are fielding information requests from virtually every gaming jurisdiction in the world,” Dubois told PokerNews.
Among the venues Elite Chip Care has worked with across the country are:
- Red Hawk Casino-Placerville, CA
- El Cortez Casino-Las Vegas, NV
- The Lodge Casino, Black Hawk, CO
- Chumash Casino, Santa Ynez, CA
- Catfish Bend Casino, Burlington, IA
- Westgate Casino, Las Vegas NV
- Valley View Casino, Valley Center, CA
Q&A with Elite Chip Care Founder Clay Dubois
PokerNews recently caught up with Dubois to talk about Elite Chip Care and how
How many chips are you capable of cleaning and in what timeframe?
Dubois: Currently, we are capable of cleaning up to 150,000 chips per day. Far more than any other chip cleaner available for purchase. Our system design being easily scalable, we will soon offer cleaning capabilities of 200,000+ chips per day.
Does the cleaning kill germs, bacteria, viruses, etc?
Dubois: Ultrasonic cleaners are able to kill bacteria and pathogens through a physical process, rather than a chemical one. Our cleaning, agent is nontoxic and freely disposed of post cleaning, without causing any harm to the environment. Our knockout punch for most any virus present on a chip is provided by our chip drying chambers. These convection chambers dry by moving hot air at temperatures up to 200 degrees F, over the entire surface of the chip. Norovirus for example is known to be eradicated at 140 degrees F.
Have you seen an increase in interest given the rise of Coronavirus?
Dubois: We have seen a massive increase in both awareness and interest from the casino industry, since Coronavirus or COVID-19 has appeared on the world stage. Ironically enough, the real threat to dealer and casino patron health is not COVID-19, it is the dangerous bacterium present on almost all casino chips. The odds of a virus appearing in any given casino is low, but bacterial infections are an ever-present health threat.
"Up until now, most medium to large casinos haven't ever cleaned their chips. It's just too big of a project using antiquated means."
There is currently no single economically viable, preventative measure for keeping gaming chips sanitized from day to day. We are repeatedly asked by casino executives, 'How often should we clean our chips?’ That's a difficult question to answer. As often as is economically viable is the answer. Up until now, most medium to large casinos haven't ever cleaned their chips. It's just too big of a project using antiquated means of five-gallon buckets and brushes. Recently I was speaking with a casino executive who half bragged that he occasionally holds 'Chip Cleaning Parties.’ My response... ‘Respectfully, you can call it whatever you want to, but I guarantee you that no one at that party is having any fun.’
In what ways could chip cleaning help combat viruses during events?
Dubois: An ounce of prevention (i.e. Wash your hands frequently and don't touch your face). Keeping that sage advice in mind, the odds are very low of a viral outbreak occurring during an event. Amusing story, when I first began cleaning gaming chips in view of the general public, I was often asked 'What are you doing?' My response, 'Cleaning chips and saving lives.'
What started out as hyperbole, began to show some measure of truth. We've even incorporated that saying into our business logo. Cleaning/sanitizing chips during an event is prudent but also must be tempered with economic viability. I am certain that players and dealers will appreciate an event coordinator acting proactively to keep their chip set(s) reasonable hygienic during an event. it's about mitigating risk and assuaging customer fears.
But seriously, with our 24-hour news cycle and Covid-19 near panic, or a better euphemism might be 'heightened awareness,’ cleaning/sanitizing chips on a regular basis will allow your customers to enjoy the event and focus their attention on play.
How often do you recommend venues have their chips cleaned and why?
Dubois: Clean your chips as often as is economically viable. Pit and Poker Players should 'see something, say something'. Meaning if you are playing with dirty, unsanitary chips, say something to the dealer, pit manager or anyone who'll listen. You, as a casino patron deserve to play with clean chips. There is something wrong when a casinos carpets are cleaner than the chips being handled by team members and patrons.
For more information on Elite Chip Care visit elitechipcare.com.
Images courtesy of Elite Chip Care.
Executive Editor US, PokerNews Podcast co-host & 2013 WSOP Bracelet Winner.