Why The Drama Of The Casino Goes Hand In Hand With Movies

It’s obvious why the casino enjoys a strong presence in the movies. There’s the Hollywood glitz present at the Las Vegas poker tables, and the black-tied decadence of James Bond’s favoured baccarat venues. There’s also the inherent drama of a huge poker raise or the moment before the ball lands on the roulette number.

Ridley Scott’s Gladiator starring Russell Crowe was one of the standout movies of 2000. It made over $450 million at the box office, earned plaudits from the critics, and enjoyed a place amongst Entertainment Weekly’s list of best films of the decade. It has also become a very popular five-reel, 25-payline slots game, highlighting how movies and casino games enjoy a distinct kinship.

The Gladiator video slot sees you enter the gladiatorial arena to fight your way to free spins, multipliers, and wilds or a potential journey to the jackpot if you can unveil nine gold helmets. Delivering the film’s dramatic action to the slots platform, excellent use of sound immerses players in the entertainment. Complemented by “coliseum” and “gladiator” bonuses, there is an appealing mix of the film’s characteristics inside the online casino game.

The Casino’s Presence in the Movies

Casino Royale, How To Win In The Casino According To The Movies

It’s obvious why the casino enjoys a strong presence in the movies. There’s the Hollywood glitz present at the Las Vegas poker tables, and the black-tied decadence of James Bond’s favoured baccarat venues. There’s also the inherent drama of a huge poker raise or the moment before the ball lands on the roulette number. While the place may change, casino games afford movies a singular kind of tension-filled drama.

On the silver screen, throughout its history, the casino and its games have enjoyed roles ranging from subtle reference to playing significant roles in the plot. From Martin Scorsese’s Casino to the Ocean’s 11 collection of films, filmmakers have shown us how the gambling meccas of Vegas could be pivotal big screen entertainment.

Elsewhere, British secret agent James Bond has travelled the world playing everything from roulette to baccarat and craps, while Matt Damon showed us all how to play poker in stylish drama Rounders. Yet, contemporary cinema hasn’t just found out how useful the casino can be. Laurence Trimble made poker-themed A Cure for Pokeritis over 100 years ago, for example.

The Sting, How To Win In The Casino According To The Movies

Three more prominent poker films arrived between 1965 and 1973. There was The Cincinnati Kid, A Big Hand for the Little Lady and the much-loved The Sting, which saw Paul Newman and Robert Redford at the poker table. Away from poker, drama Indecent Proposal used the casino as a platform for an unusual business proposal, and 21 was inspired by a true story surrounding blackjack card-counting.

All the while, 007 was frequenting baccarat, craps and roulette tables throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. There’s a famous scene in Dr. No when he enjoys one his favourite casino games – a form of baccarat called chemin-de-fer. It is here where 007 utters the immortal line: “Bond… James Bond”.

We also saw Bond tackle craps and roulette famously in Diamonds Are Forever. He’s at the tables of both the Whyte House and Circus Circus casinos during the film, mixing his time between games where, at one point, while at the craps table, he wins himself $65,000 while gaining the attentions of Bond Girl Plenty O’Toole.

Beyond the Table Games

Behind the table games we’ve also seen the slot machines dazzling with their twinkly lights and electronic sounds. Every now and again we can hear the metallic clatter of coins hitting the collection tray as a player gets a winning return or even the jackpot.

Particularly because there are so many opportunities to play free slots online, these casino favourites are a familiar part of films that feature gambling. The slots’ role is more subtle, from an ever-presence in Scorsese’s Casino to a character’s fleeting glance at a potential jackpot in Vegas Vacation. More significantly, we’ve seen the slot machine’s pliability to partner the movie world with the gambling gaming world.

In addition to games like the very popular Gladiator, we’ve got The Terminator from Microgaming. This 5-reel game offers 243 ways to win but with free spins can ump to 1024 ways to win. You join John Connor trying to evade bad guy robot, the T-1000.

Elsewhere, there’s Dirty Dancing, a slots game from Playtech that takes its inspiration for the much-loved romance-drama through its Whirling Wilds mystery feature and a rock n roll soundtrack. And for fans of the 2005 version of King Kong, Playtech also released a fun slots game based on the Adrien Brody/Naomi Watts-starring action-adventure film.

Slots developer NextGen has also got in on the act with the release of Psycho. Its popularity is, in part, courtesy of the licensed footage and sounds from Hitchcock’s movie. This really brings the game alive with effective visuals that offer distinctive thrills as you play.

Horror movies have enjoyed a strong presence in the slots market. Others such as the five-reel, 30 pay line A Nightmare on Elm Street, and a couple inspired by black and white favourites The Invisible Man and The Mummy have also proven to be very popular.

It’s clear, filmmakers understand the allure of the casino in the internet age. Statista data tells us it’s going to continue to trend upwards, with figures showing growth more than doubling between 2017 and its predicted level in 2024. Data in 2018 showed the worldwide casino market had jumped from $3.18 billion to $3.20 billion in just 12 months. The gross gaming yield has increased $15 million in the last three years and during this time Hollywood has produced a female-led spin-off of Ocean’s 11, and poker-based Mississippi Grind and Molly’s Game.

Why Filmmakers Love the Casino

California Split, How To Win In The Casino According To The Movies

The reason films and their screenwriters and directors continue to find creative empowerment in the casino is because games like roulette and poker are inherently dramatic. They help sustain tension, they can be used to develop character arcs and offer a pay-off that illuminates the onscreen action. There’s a distinctive thrill from competitive gaming that we’ve also seen in the sports-based movie, where the line between winning and losing offers an unpredictability that works harmoniously with silver screen entertainment.

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About the Author
Rory Fish has loved movies since he can remember. If he was to put together an "all time" top 10 of absolute favourites it would have to include North By Northwest, 12 Angry Men and Sunset Boulevard.

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