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What are the best gambling movies?

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Best Casino Movies

Most of us can still remember the first time we were taken to the movies – the air thick with equal measures of expectation and the smell of warm popcorn. Who doesn’t remember sitting back in those lush chairs that made you feel like royalty? The first time I went, my swinging feet barely reached the floor, and I couldn’t wait for the laughter in the auditorium to stop and the movie to start.

It’s in those movie theatres that many of us got the first taste of love and life; it’s within the safety of those padded walls that we were able to experience to see the glamour of the casino. Sean Connery as James Bond swaggering through the most memorable game of craps in ‘Diamonds are Forever’, the original Rat Pack in ‘Ocean’s 11’ showing Las Vegas at the beginning of the glitz and glamour – these are just two of the movies that lit our casino fires and left us wanting to cash in and bring down The House. Here, we will be taking a trip down memory lane with the best gambling movies out there which have inspired and enriched our lives – perhaps even inspired our own online gambling – and telling you exactly why you should be watching them.

Bugsy (1991)

‘Bugsy’ tells the tale of a gangster who has a big, beautiful dream of building a casino in the middle of the Nevada desert. For Bugsy Siegal, played by Warren Beatty, his fantasy fires him up, but he finds it hard to convince others of his vision. His passionate affair with Virginia Hill leads to his murder, and he ends up never seeing his dream turn into a reality. It’s the ultimate casino movie when it comes to the power of dreaming big, even though Bugsy never does get to see that his vision has generated $100 billion in revenue by 1991.


Casino (1995)

While they didn’t use the most imaginative name out there, ‘Casino’ is Martin Scorsese’s love letter to the glitzy Las Vegas of the 70s and . Based on the Nicholas Pileggi book about a Mafia associate sent by the mob to run the Tangiers Casino, ‘Casino’ fast became a cult classic. Indeed, few hardcore fashionistas aren’t familiar with the photo of Sharon Stone lying down on a bed clutching a long fur coat to herself surrounded by piles and piles of Bvlgari jewelry… which might actually make a pretty great NFT. A story of excess, ‘Casino’ is one of those movies that beautifully document the rise and fall of those obsessed with money and power. It also doesn’t hurt that the star of the film is a young Robert de Niro.


Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Although ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ was a financial disaster and not a gambling movie in the strictest sense of the word, it provides a memorable trip for everyone who watches it. Based on a book by Hunter S. Thompson, the movie follows Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo on their drug-fueled trip to Las Vegas, where writer Duke is meant to cover the Mint 400 motorcycle race. Through the hallucinations and general mayhem they leave wherever they go, ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ remains one of the craziest rides in cinematic history. It’s also an opportunity to see Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro at their most eccentric (Benicio gained 18 kgs in 9 weeks for the role by eating multiple donuts every day). Johnny Depp formed such a close bond with Thompson that he paid for his funeral when Thompson died from a self-inflicted gun wound in 2005.


Croupier (1998)

Struggling writer turns croupier is the name of the game in this classic piece that sees Clive Owens at his finest. As Jack (Owens) starts his descent into the dark and alluring world of casino, he gets sucked into a plot for a planned casino robbery, which turns deadly. Jack eventually gets the success he is after, but it doesn’t have the desired effect, and he hates who he’s become. Far away from the glittering lights of Las Vegas, Croupier presents a dark, rough, unsmiling look into London’s card rooms where grit, not glitz is the order of the day. It’s a must-see for all those who are tired of clichés and want to gaze at the world through the dealer’s eyes.


Rounders (1998)

You can’t talk about gambling movies without touching on what is still considered one of the best poker movies ever made – ‘Rounders’. The film centers around Matt Damon, who plays law student by day, poker genius by night Mike McDermott. It follows his journey of navigating law school, his relationship with his girlfriend Jo, who wants him to quit playing, his troublemaking best friend Worm, and the Russian mafia. After enough twists and turns to make your heart stop several times over, McDermott is finally able to follow his true dream. ‘Rounders’ did such a brilliant job capturing the game’s spirit that several pro poker players cite it as their inspiration.


Casino Royale (2006)

A remake (if you can call it that) of the 1967 version, which was a parody of the classic Bond, Casino Royale was Daniel Craig’s first James Bond film. His casting was highly controversial at the time — many people thought  he couldn’t quite cut it in the role. Casino Royale saw Bond fall in love with the enigmatic Vesper Lynd and take part in a Texas hold ’em tournament, which sees him eventually win $115 million from Le Chiffre. The tournament that sees Bond poisoned with digitalis between games is considered by many to be one of the best examples of how to integrate the adrenaline of casino with a high-action plot. We’ve got to admit, the movie would lose some spark if Bond was bankrupting bad guys with online slots


21 (2008)

Based on a true story, 21 is a heist movie that sees exceptional mathematics major at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Ben Campbell get accepted into a medical school that he can’t afford. Under the leadership of one of his professors, he and his fellow MIT students use their skills to take the best blackjack tables at Las Vegas by storm. Many ups, downs and huge piles of cash follow. Like Mike in ‘Rounders’, Ben’s tale brings him clarity about the next big step he wants to take in his life journey.


Guns, Girls and Gambling (2012)

As colorful as ‘Fear and Loathing’ in plot, ‘Guns, Girls and Gambling’ is like a Tarantino film on steroids. The movie throws in everything from Elvis impersonators,  to cowboys and Indians . Centering around the theft of a priceless ancient Native American mask from an Indian Reservation casino, we see the Elvises tracked down by a beautiful hitwoman who quotes Edgar Allan Poe before murdering her victims. Despite all the exciting characters, the biggest punch of this iconic casino-based film comes from the outcome.


We hope you’ve enjoyed our best gambling movies list — feel free to let us know your favorites too!

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