After nearly being duped by a forged chips scam earlier this year, an Atlantic City casino is tightening security measures for its latest poker tournament

New tournament chips identifiable with an ultraviolet light and marked by more colors and more detailed design were used for the first time Tuesday in the Spring Poker Open at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. Casino officials said the move was a direct result of an alleged attempt by a North Carolina man to rig play with counterfeit chips, some of which he later flushed down a hotel room toilet.

The added expense to the cost of the more detailed chips is significant but necessary, Borgata Senior Vice President Joe Lupo said. He declined to provide the exact difference in the cost between the high-security chips and standard tournament chips.

“Considering that we have biggest poker tournaments on the East Coast and we expect to continue to do so, it’s imperative that we ensure that our customers have confidence in the integrity of the tournaments,” Lupo said.

Borgata decided to upgrade to enhanced security chips, in part because the casino had to buy new chips for its latest tournament as some denominations of chips are still sequestered as evidence in the ongoing investigation of the January tournament, Lupo said.

In January, police arrested a North Carolina man who they said had introduced 160 forged chips into Event 1 of the Borgata Winter Poker Open and charged him with theft and rigging a public contest. The man, Christian Lusardi, had received packages of plastic chips from Hong Kong and used spray paint to create the forgeries, according to court documents.

Lusardi, who won $6,184 in the tournament, was caught after he attempted to flush some of the chips down a toilet in his Harrah’s Resort and Casino hotel room, causing plumbing problems at the property.

The case remains under investigation by State Police and the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, DGE spokeswoman Kerry Langan said.

The tournament that began Jan. 14 remains suspended by regulators, and $1.5 million in the prize pool remains frozen. A class action lawsuit was filed in New Jersey Superior Court in February, alleging that the casino failed to properly supervise the event. The lawsuit seeks refunds of the players’ buy-ins and other incidental costs.

Lupo said Borgata will now conduct periodic checks of its new tournament chips with ultraviolet lights throughout play for added security.

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Senior copy editor for the Press of Atlantic City. Have worked as a reporter, copy editor and news editor with the paper since 1985. A graduate of the University of Delaware.