Marc, excellent question, and one with greater implications than just the Hard Rock issue!
You said, "Just because It looks like a chip, Does it make it a chip?"
That's a question that the co-authors of "The Chip Rack" and "The Gaming Table" struggle with constantly. You can add to that question too: Just because it's being sold as a chip, does that make it a chip?"
o Take, for example, the "chip" the Las Vegas church issued as a fundraiser a few years ago. Does that belong in a book about casino chips?
o What about cover charge pieces issued by strip joints or topless bars?
o What about advertising pieces produced by businesses (e.g., the Las Vegas Sports Card Connection)?
o What about chips made for a hotel in California with no gaming license, to rent out to their guests for private games?
o What about manufacturer's sample chips made in designs or constructions as demonstration pieces to try to sell them to casinos, but which were never purchased or issued by a casino?
o What about "commemorative" chips made after a hotel has closed, with opening and closing dates on the inlay?
o What about chips churned out by a chip dealer pretending to look like a casino chip, but made in his garage to sell only to collectors?
o What about chips ordered by, made for, delivered to a casino, never put in play, but sold from the cage to collectors?
These aren't all easy questions, and the issue whether to put them in "The Chip Rack" or "The Gaming Table" arises every year! And the answers we come up with vary!
No one (I don't think!) wants to tell collectors what is proper for them to collect. Some people collect fakes, counterfeits, souvenirs, and other such pieces. Some don't. But the only problem arises when trying to determine what the piece is and what it's worth to a collector of casino chips!