Gamblers to be Warned of Lead in Vegas Company’s Poker Chips (Las Vegas Sun, Aug 01 2008)

Liz Benston, Las Vegas Sun, August 1, 2008

Poker chips manufactured by a Las Vegas
company will be the focus of notices at 21 California card clubs starting Nov. 1 – and
not for promotional purposes.

Signs will inform customers that casino chips on the premises contain lead,
a metal known to cause cancer, birth defects and other health problems.

The notices, and a requirement that the chips in question contain no more
than .005 percent lead, settle a lawsuit filed last year by a nonprofit
watchdog group in California against Gaming
Partners International, which makes most of the gaming chips used in casinos
worldwide, including Paulson chips in Nevada
casinos.

The news revives a controversy that erupted last year when a Phoenix television
station that tested Paulson chips reported that some contained a dangerous
amount of lead. That story prompted Arizona
health officials to issue a public health alert and notify federal recall
authorities and government health experts. It also shook up the casino
industry, with executives and employees seeking answers from the manufacturer.

That contention fizzled after the Arizona Department of Health Services,
whose own tests of Paulson chips showed concentrations of lead significantly
lower than those reported by the television station, withdrew the public health
alert and declared that the chips posed no health risk. The television station
pulled the original story from its Web site.

Independent tests showed it was physically impossible for either dealers or
players to receive a harmful dose of lead by coming in contact with the chips.

The Center for Environmental Health, which filed the lawsuit, says the
company's assumptions about harmful levels of exposure are out of date. New
research shows that even low concentrations of lead can be harmful, especially
for children born to women who are exposed to lead, they say. More recently,
federal health officials have determined that there's no safe level of lead
exposure for children.

Gaming Partners, which began phasing out lead in the 1990s, was among
hundreds of businesses that have been sued as a result of California's Proposition 65, a 1986 law requiring
that businesses in that state post warning signs notifying consumers of harmful
substances on the premises.

Proposition 65 warning signs for chemicals "known to cause cancer, birth
defects and other reproductive harm" are ubiquitous in many California
businesses such as bars, restaurants, hotels, parking garages, gas stations and
retail stores.

Attorney John Allen, who represented Gaming Partners and has defended other
companies in Proposition 65 claims, called the lawsuit an "unpleasant
experience" but said he respects the "legitimate" efforts of the Center for
Environmental Health.

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