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How Well Are Casinos Represented In Films?

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Historically, live casino games have sometimes had a bad rep. Before the rise of cinematography and the licensing of establishments, casinos were seen as a place associated with crime and under the radar illegal casinos. However, we’ve come a long way since the days that casinos had a bad reputation.

Thanks to the rise of the Hollywood film era, these misconceptions became a thing of the past as the lavish casinos of Monte Carlo, Las Vegas and Montenegro have all featured as the backdrop of pulse racing plots in some of today’s most timeless classics. However, some critics argue that these classic casino films have contributed to an extreme culture where the lavish and dangerous world of casinos have become over exaggerated and not representative of normal life.




However, there are also films that represent the darker side of casino culture and involve plots around drinking and drug addiction, financial problems and relationship issues. These darker films contradict the timeless classics that represent lavish casinos that are filled with the wealthy higher classes. This side of representation could too be seen as promotion of extreme culture, however the lavish and more grueling representations have a level of truth to them.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular casino movies of all time and see how they’re represented.

The Hangover

The Hangover

The Hangover was the tenth highest grossing film of 2009, with a worldwide gross revenue of over $467 million. The hangover is a perfect example of where casinos have become part of extreme culture as while it is certainly an entertaining film to watch, it’s not representative of everyday life.

The plot is based around a group of friends who take a trip to Vegas to celebrate a Bachelor party. While the trio intend to have a wild time, it quickly develops into a more wild time than they ever expected in which a number of elaborate characters get brought into the mix, including a police officer, a tiger and a baby. The film also features an air of the drugs, sex and drinking culture that is associated with gaming in Las Vegas, however the tone is comedic and not intended to highlight it as an issue.




While the Hangover is a prime example of extreme culture, there is also a scene where the friends go head to head in a game of poker to win back the money that their friend lost. The characters show extraordinary skill in this game with a strategy that goes far beyond the basics. It could be considered that these scenes represent the more skill focused and professional side of casino games.

Casino Royale

Casino Royale

This remake of one of the classic 007 films manages to capture the two sides of casino culture well. On the one hand, viewers are taken into the world of wealth, class and superior technology that any bond movie portrays, as the scenes take you through the lavish Le Casino Royale in Montenegro. From the fancy cocktails to the executive cars and the lavish lifestyle of those visiting the casino, Casino Royale paints a picture of those that live a high end and luxurious life.

On the other hand, the film also represents the criminal side of casino operations as the plot revolves around 007 Agent James Bond as he goes head to head with criminal Banker Le Chiffre. Bond and Le Chiffre get into a tense game of Texas Hold’em, in which Bond must win the game in order to prevent Le Chiffrre from winning the blood money that’s used to fund thousands of criminal organizations across the globe.

The film really is a timeless classic.




The Swinger

The Swingers

Throwing it back to the 60’s the Swingers features two friends, Mike and Trent (Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn), as they head on a trip to Vegas as Trent tries to take Mike’s mind off a recent breakup with his girlfriend.

The Swinger features the high risk, risk behavior atmosphere that appears in the likes of the Hangover as the pair get involved in some high stakes casino games over the course of their trip. While they win a large sum of money at first, the pair soon lose their money again and end up returning home with nothing to show for their stint in the Vegas Casinos.

While entertaining, The Swinger highlights the high risk stakes involved in playing casino games.




Ocean’s 11

Ocean's 11

Ocean’s 11 is another timeless classic that features savvy criminal Danny Ocean as he pulls together a team of mastermind criminals to pull off a 150 million dollar heist. Featuring all the elegance and glamour of the bond movies, the team set about planning to rob three of the most prestigious casinos in Vegas; the Bellagio, MGM Grand and the Mirage.

Another factor which made the film so successful was the elite cast chosen to play the heists in which there was Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Julia Roberts. It’s hard to beat a cast like that and has further aided the establishment of casinos films as thrilling and high caliber.




Overall, while there is a strong culture of exaggeration when it comes to how casinos are portrayed in films, there seems to be an equal representation of the good and the bad. We all know the timeless classics that portray lavish casinos that open their arms to wealthy spenders looking to part all too easily with their cash. And then there’s the vegas side.

Nonetheless, the casino film industry seems to be doing more good in terms of promotion than harm. Now where’s the Netflix controller!

Author: Will

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