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    Betting on a Winner – The Rise of Gambling in Movies

    Betting on a Winner – The Rise of Gambling in Movies

    Hollywood always had a certain fascination with risk, be it in planning the perfect heist, or betting it all on a long shot to win. It seems gambling and movies, in one way or another, seem to make strange and rather enticing bedfellows.

    If one casts an eye back to the golden age of Hollywood movies, it is quite easy to see how the then fledgling gambling industry of Las Vegas and its older sibling, Atlantic City, made for perfect silver screen story telling. In fact, the incredible story of how a sleepy desert town in the middle of nowhere would be transformed into one of the world’s premier gambling destinations is its own muse.

    Hollywood’s Winning Gamble

    Take a few key ingredients, namely organised crime, gambling, a few down on their luck fellows, and you already have most of what it takes to make the perfect gambling or heist Hollywood blockbuster.

    Place those down on their luck fellows in the middle of one of America’s most notable success stories, Las Vegas, then, ensure to throw in some of the age’s greatest talents to play the parts including Sammy Davis Jr, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and others – aka “The Rat Pack”. Now, create the perfect heist, where the down on their luck guys fleece the mob of millions of dollars.

    That’s pretty much how the original 1960 version of Ocean’s 11 was conceived and went on to become a classic of the genre. In fact, the Ocean’s 11 formula has been successfully applied to a string of heist movies revolving around the gambling industry. Ocean’s 11 was remade in 2001, redubbed as Ocean’s Eleven and starring the modern equivalent to the original Rat Pack, including George Clooney and Matt Damon.

    Well, that’s one angle or aspect of the sprawling genre inspired by risk takers and gamblers, but what about movies that more directly relate to gambling? Read on below.

    Showdown at the Roulette Coral

    Casinos and gambling have always been an intriguing subject and are often associated with a life of excitement, opulence and adventure. Perhaps one of the reasons for this association has to do with how casinos, and various casino games such as roulette and blackjack, have been used as vehicles in movies.

    This can be something as simple as a background to a certain scene, like those found in any number of the James Bond movie franchise, or even as a catalyst, the backdrop to the ultimate showdown between the good guy and the bad guy. Rounders, starring Matt Damon as the more or less good guy and John Malkovich as the more or less bad guy, is a perfect example.

    The Idea that Anyone Can Gamble and Win

    Aside from the art of gambling, whether it is a game of poker, blackjack or roulette, being used as a vehicle where good and evil decide the winner, gambling in movies can itself be the central character. The act of gambling, can often be the central premise of a blockbuster movie and a prime example of this particular angle can be found in 2008’s ‘21’, a movie based on real events starring Kevin Spacey.
    Winner-1This approach is extremely appealing as it speaks to that part in all of us that fantasises about driving down to Vegas and coming back with a life changing fortune. In 21, the story is inspired by the Ben Mezrich book “Bringing Down the House”, which tells the story of an MIT professor who organises a team of blackjack card counters with the aim of taking down the top Las Vegas casinos. The movie effectively put blackjack card counting in the spotlight, and increased the popularity of the game at online casinos all over the web.

    Whether it’s about an adrenaline pumping heist, a plan to take down a Vegas giant with clever gambling strategies, or as the finale scene in a tense thriller, Hollywood has used gambling to fuel popular movie culture for decades, and will continue to do so. That, you can bet on!


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