Gaming Partners International (GPI), a full-service supplier of gaming furniture and equipment for casinos worldwide, was the vision of François Carretté, the first chairman of the board of GPI and president of Holding Wilson, GPI's main shareholder. GPI was created from joining three of the world’s leading gaming suppliers, Bourgogne et Grasset (B&G), Paul-Son Gaming Supplies, and The Bud Jones Company. Gaming Partners International Corporation was formed in 2002 through a reverse merger between Paul-Son Gaming and B&G.
Featuring popular brands such as Paulson®, B&G® and Bud Jones®, GPI high-quality table game products range from casino currency with proprietary design and security features, to innovative new ideas in gaming table manufacture, to products developed specifically for the cost-conscious casino.
With a sales force that spans the globe and manufacturing plants in Mexico and France, GPI is equipped to serve casino customers in all major gaming regions including North and South America, Asia, Europe, Australia and South Africa.
The Bud Jones Company
Bernard “Bud” Jones lived and breathed table game supply from the time he entered the business in 1934 until shortly before his death at the age of 86 in August of 2001. He worked every day at the Las Vegas office of the Bud Jones Company, running his company from its founding in 1965 until falling ill in 1999 at the age of 84.
After he passed away, his daughter, Kathleen Steele, told a Las Vegas reporter that Jones had no hobbies or interests outside of his business—it was his passion.
Bud Jones was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1915. His professional fate would be sealed when he answered a help-wanted ad in 1934 for work as a dice-maker. He learned and honed the craft of dice manufacturing over the ensuing two decades, as an employee, manager and eventually part-owner of casino supply ventures in Kansas City.
Jones moved his family to Nevada in the mid 1950s, after his supply business burned to the ground. By the early 1960s, Jones was ready to establish his own dice company. He officially opened the doors to the Bud Jones Company in 1965.
The Bud Jones Company went on to become the nation’s largest producer of casino-quality dice, and just as his competitor Endy at Paul-Son, Jones would soon expand his product line. The dice were soon accompanied by injection-molded plastic gaming chips. Jones was a pioneer in perfecting this style of chip, adding security features and beautiful designs and enhancing their feel and appearance.
He would also add gaming tables to his product line and, in 1973, Jones introduced coin-inlay gaming chips, which are manufactured of molded plastic surrounding an actual silver coin. This style of chip was developed to foil counterfeiters, but it also became quite popular with collectors, and with casinos as commemorative chips.
By the 1980s, Jones’ main line of injection-molded plastic gaming chips became one of the most popular American styles of chips used in European, Far East Asian and South African casinos. Jones, in fact, sold more chips overseas than he did in the United States, through an exclusive British distributor.
By the 1990s, the Bud Jones Company had customers in more than 500 casinos, in 50 nations around the world.
Along with Endy, Jones became one of the most trusted and well-loved vendors in the business. Bud Jones is also a member of the Gaming Hall of Fame. His greatest love was in overseeing the production of his precision-crafted dice and gaming chips. For personal reasons, he named no successor, and because Jones shared the same values as B&G CEO Gérard Charlier, he sold his business to the French company in 2000.
GPI will surely take good care of the business that was Bud’s passion, and will continue the tradition of quality craftsmanship and service that Jones personified for some 34 years.
Paul-Son Gaming Supplies
Paul S. Endy Jr. had gaming supply in his blood. Born in Monterey Park, California in 1929, he worked as an electrician before going into sales and service at his father’s business, a gaming supply distributor and dice manufacturer called T.R. King & Company.
Paul Sr.’s business, which Endy joined in the early 1950s, would provide the seeds that Paul Jr. would eventually turn into the top gaming supply company in the nation. In 1963, with the help of his father, Endy and a partner, Curley Ashworth, bought a bankrupt dice company in Las Vegas. Because Endy brought his three sons in to help run the business, and in a tribute to his own father, he decided to name his new company Paul-Son Gaming Supply.
It would be gaming chips that Paul-Son would become most known for. Endy’s company developed custom-molded clay chips with personalized inlays—intricate graphics, photography and other features never before seen on a chip—and a constantly increasing number of anti-counterfeiting features. Over the years, the security features built into the clay chips became more and more sophisticated. (After the merger with Bourgogne et Grasset and thanks to their know-how and a long established experience in adding security features to a chip, Paul-Son security features culminated in the development of the microchip-embedded chip in 2003). Paul-Son also began offering its clay chips to home poker enthusiasts through its Paulson Pro Series retail chip line and continues to develop and produce new and unique limited edition designs.
By the 1990s, Paul-Son had grown with the industry, establishing offices around the United States and nurturing relationships with table game operators both in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. The explosive growth of the industry in the early 1990s with emerging riverboat and Indian casinos added more customers, which prompted Endy to take his company public. In 1994, an initial stock offering transformed Paul-Son Gaming into Paul-Son Gaming Corporation.
The new public company offered an expanded product line that included not only chips and dice, but playing cards, table layouts and other equipment, making Paul-Son a one-stop shop for everything in table game supply. The expanded product offerings and burgeoning business necessitated a manufacturing facility much larger than Paul-Son’s Las Vegas headquarters, so the company established a plant in San Luis, Mexico, to handle production of all Paul-Son products.
Paul Endy Jr. died in April of 1999, leaving a legacy not only of the best in table game supply, but of the best in service to the communities in which he operated. Endy had served as chairman and director of Westcare, a nonprofit treatment center for drug and alcohol abuse, and contributed to numerous other community organizations, including high school baseball, UNLV baseball, and the Boy Scouts of America. In Mexico, he and his wife funded the expansion of a home for elderly women and contributed extensively to local orphanages.
Paul Endy is a member of the Gaming Hall of Fame, and GPI aims to continue that tradition.
Bourgogne et Grasset (B&G)
The company that is now the GPI SAS subsidiary of Gaming Partners International Corporation was known to casino operators across the globe for decades by the names of the two pioneers of table game supply who were its founders: Bourgogne et Grasset, or as it was more commonly known, B&G.
B&G’s mission—which carries on in the form of GPI SAS —was always to provide the highest quality chips, plaques and jetons, and more recently, roulette wheels, while working with its customers to ensure the highest level of security possible for the sensitive equipment.
In fact, security was the main reason for the founding of Bourgogne et Grasset. In the 1920s in Beaune, in the Burgundy region of France, lithographer Etienne Bourgogne and engineer Claudius Grasset were working to pioneer the use of plastics for use in items such as brooches, hair slides and plastic playing cards. The partners were the first to master the art of plastic film printing. One day in 1925, Claudius Grasset read in the newspaper Le Figaro that a player had broken the bank at the Monte Carlo Casino to the tune of 600,000 Francs, and after he had left, the casino’s managers realized he had done it with counterfeit chips made of solid ivory and mother of pearl.
Bourgogne and Grasset saw an opportunity to use their plastics research and their technical skills to address the counterfeiting problem. The partners got to work on producing a new generation of chips that would offer casinos total security. They perfected an ingenious process by which the impression of the chip was protected by a thin plastic film, which made it practically impossible to imitate them.
The partners sent some samples to the general manager of the Monte Carlo casino, Monsieur Blanc. Blanc’s reply came in the form of a first chip order, and Bourgogne et Grasset was born as a gaming supplier.
B&G built a solid reputation over its first two decades, and in 1945, the company was purchased by another innovator, Daniel Senard.
Senard, who purchased B&G following his return from five years in a Nazi detention camp during World War II, gave the company a new dimension, developing even more security features for the products. He added features such as color stripes, see-through windows (“lunettes”), white and golden lace, lamé, and invisible prints, all groundbreaking anti-counterfeiting features that gave B&G chips, plaques and jetons an unprecedented level of security.
Soon, the company’s service area had expanded across Europe. In short order, the word was out about the high quality and counterfeit-resistant properties of B&G products, and soon, the vast majority of casinos not only in France, but in all of Western Europe, were buying their chips from B&G. The B&G logo appeared in Germany, Spain, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Greece and England, and the company’s round chips and rectangular plaques would eventually be dominant in all corners of the world—Macau, the Philippines, Malaysia, Australia, Chile, Argentina, South Africa and Canada. The late Shah of Iran and the late King Farouk of Egypt both had their personal chips made in B&G’s Beaune plant.
B&G always adapted quickly to new challenges and market conditions. When the Bud Jones plastic injection-molded gaming chip, developed in the 1950s and 1960s, gained widespread popularity in Europe during the 1980s, B&G developed its own line of “American-style” plastic injection-molded chips, and launched it in 1990.
This was a turning point for B&G. Production expanded dramatically from the traditional jetons and plaques, creating a product line with the widest range of gaming chips available on the market. Daniel Senard decided to sell his company in February 1994 to a group of investors led by one of his sons in law, Gerard P. Charlier, a Stanford University graduate, who had been on the board of B&G since 1985 and involved in the reorganization of B&G since 1992. Daniel Senard died in 1998. With the introduction of the Euro in January 2002 as the new currency for most of the EU countries, Bourgogne et Grasset was chosen in 2000 and 2001 as the sole chip and plaque supplier by more than 250 European casinos, that is to say 90 percent of the market.
The company’s growing list of customers around the world eventually prompted B&G to expand its product line beyond the chips, plaques and jetons that had been its mainstay for decades. Fifteen years ago, the company started to manufacture quality roulette wheels in the Beaune plant. In addition to wheels for both American and French roulette games, the company began supplying gaming tables and other supplies, until its mission to diversify into a full-service gaming supply house led executives to the acquisition of the Bud Jones Company in 2000 and the merger with Paul-Son Gaming.