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Cards, Dice Meet Their End In Destruction Room

July 29, 1986

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ Tucked deep in the lower recesses of the casino hotel, it’s known as the destruction room.

It’s where thousands of day-old dice and playing cards are pierced with a drill so they never again will touch the green felt of playing tables. Millions more cards are fed into a shredder.

But what is waste to casinos is treasure to others, and people write letters by the hundreds looking for castoff playing cards and dice.

Marsha Wachsman, who works in the public relations department of Del Webb’s Claridge Casino Hotel, has a 2-inch-thick file of requests for canceled dice and cards, those that have had a quarter-inch hole cut through the center.

The Claridge and other gaming halls gladly fill the requests for dice and cards embossed with their names.

State law dictates that gaming halls use cards and dice only for one day, and destroy or cancel them within 24 hours. The law is designed to thwart cheaters who might tamper with the playing items.

Before the cards and dice are drilled or shredded, a security employee must check decks selected at random under a special light for evidence of tampering.

At the Claridge, Thomas Chandler, resident destroyer for two years, said 250 to 300 decks of cards and about 135 dice are sent to the destruction room daily.

Casino officials estimated that Chandler, who recently moved into the casino surveillance department, drilled and shredded about 5.6 million cards and more than 238,000 pairs of dice a year. Three other security department employees now share his old duties.

A few of the decks of cards and pairs of dice turn up in the casino gift shops for sale to visitors. Employees, particularly those training to become dealers, sometimes take decks of cards home.

Most of those not destroyed are given away. Ms. Wachsman said gamblers sometimes step off the buses at the Claridge with their written requests in hand.

She said math teachers ask for cards to use in classes. Mental health professionals, prison wardens, nursing homes and retirement communities from across the country write the Claridge looking for freebies.

″You know when they go in a nursing home, they really get used,″ Chandler said.

Still in Ms. Wachsman’s file are requests for cards from a group of 16 senior citizens in Meriden, Conn., a post of the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America in Coconut Creek, Fla., a prisoner in the Mississippi state penitentiary, and St. Kevin’s School in Springfield, Pa.

Dice are so popular and in so much shorter supply than cards that the Claridge recycles all of them, Chandler said.

Crafts people glue dice together to create candle sticks, clocks, canes, lamps, name plates and vases.

Ms. Wachsman said the Lenten season witnesses a burst of requests from churches, such as the Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Omro, Wis.

The church’s assistant pastor asked for 200 pairs of dice for parishioners to use in ceremonies depicting the events of Christ’s passion and death because Roman soldiers, it is said, cast lots for his cloak after his crucifixion.

Ms. Wachsman said there weren’t enough dice to send to the church this year, but the request should be filled before Lent rolls around again.

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