The roll of the die, the spin of the roulette wheel, the dealing of cards; gambling is an activity packed with suspense, thrill and intrigue. It comes as no surprise, then, that gambling and casinos feature heavily in some of Hollywood’s most well regarded and star studded films. So how have casinos been portrayed in film, and what does the future hold for the casino based flick?
Crime and gambling, sadly, seem to go together hand in hand. No wonder then, that some of Hollywood’s finest films feature shady doings alongside casino thrills. Casino (1995), starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone, tells the tale of the seedy underbelly of a Las Vegas Casino, one in which profits are skimmed by the mob before being declared to the tax authorities. The 2001 remake of Ocean’s Eleven, featuring a star studded cast that includes George Clooney and Brad Pitt, continues Hollywood’s love of casino- based crime. The film follows a group of con-men who aim to simultaneously rob The Mirage, Bellagio and MGM Grand casinos, coming away with millions of dollars in the process.
It’s not just crime portrayed in 2009’s box office smash, The Hangover. The film depicts a group of friends on a bachelor party who wake up the morning after with no recollection of the previous night’s events. The friends then had to piece together their errant night, trying to find the groom in the process. Though evidently less criminal than the above, The Hangover still portrays gambling in a harsh, sordid light, continuing the ‘seedy underbelly’ themes endemic in other casino-related films; with new developments in the casino industry occurring, though, will this overriding portrayal continue into the future.
With the online casino gaming industry on the rise, will films soon be featuring the stories of online gamblers? The many aspects of blackjack have given enough inspiration for the 2008 movie “21”, based on the 80’s events revolving around the Harvard MIT blackjack team. Sports channels broadcasting live poker tournaments have found a solid audience over the last couple of years. It wouldn’t be unthinkable that high stakes games being played online with big names in the online gambling world would get featured on regular televisions.
What’s for sure is that if online gambling did suddenly feature heavily in film, the crime-ridden sprees that featured so heavily in years gone by might be consigned to the past. Gambling through the internet is increasingly becoming an accepted aspect of society to be responsibly enjoyed, so perhaps we will see films and scenes that show the lighter, more carefree, side of gambling. All we can do is wait and see!