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Casino in Cinema and Literature: What Is True and What Is Not?


The pace of change in the contemporary world is incredibly rapid, driven not only by advancements in technology but also by the evolution of methods for conveying information and authorial ideas.

In the earliest epochs, human language was limited to a mere 1000 words, written language was non-existent, and primitive cave paintings served as the only means of passing information through generations.

Today, our toolbox has expanded significantly and includes the use of symbolic representations in books and films – the archetype of the villain, the hero, and the victor.

This article will delve into the portrayal of casinos in film and literature, exploring the reasons behind their usage and the techniques employed in their depiction.

The exhilarating realm of gaming has surged in popularity, thus including it in other domains of life, including cinematography and literature. However, whether those two can mirror the genuine portrayal of glitzy and high-stakes casinos has been doubted.

Casino in Cinema and Literature

You can watch a movie about a casino, then go to any of the best 10 mga licensed casinos and realize that the picture doesn’t add up.

If you have made an impression about casinos based on what you have read or watched, you are encouraged to read this view to explore the veracity of those conceptions.

Casino in Cinema: How Is it Portrayed?

  • Most rudimentary and basic rules are comprehensively and accurately depicted in movies. However, sometimes filmmakers take creative and imaginative liberties to amplify the impression of drama. For instance, sometimes it shows players using infallible strategies or audacious bluffs while playing blackjack, which is not true for real casinos. But, of course, every trick will only be feasible in a real casino setting.
  • Very often, movie players are shown to defy the odds and win mind-blowing awards. In contrast, most casinos are created in a way that works to the advantage of the casinos, not the players. Although no one rejects the possibility of lucky wins, constant winning over casinos is not probable.
  • Security. Silver screens often depict impeccable players being able to outsmart the system. However, cutting-edge security systems allow casinos to make success almost impossible. Surveillance cameras and sophisticated facial recognition equipment render apprehending cheaters an easy task.
  • Most movies and films show the solitary experiences of casinos, which starkly contrast to their brick-and-mortar counterparts. However, many casinos offer chat options, engage players in live deals, etc. All these perpetuate a strong sense of community among casino players. Unfortunately, what is portrayed in movies does not always successfully emulate the real casino ambiance, which often results in misconceptions.

How is Casino Presented in Literature?

Casino depiction in literature

The most commonly presented driving factor for fictional characters is financial gain. Most characters take audacious steps to get out of a tight spot and increase their social status. One of the lambent examples is the novel “The Great Gatsby,” where the main hero organizes fancy parties and casino games to flaunt his wealth and increase his standing in society.

Another example of literature depicting casinos is “The Color of money.” The main character wagers to increase his self-esteem and gain the respect that he believes he deserves.

On the other hand, literature shows gambling as a double-edged sword and warns of all unfavorable consequences of excessive lust of getting wealthy with casinos. Most characters gamble to cement the image of a wealthy person in society, whereas sometimes, they form habits full of perils.

The main heroin of “The House of Mirth,” Lily Bart, collapsed because of her dependence on gambling to fund her lavish lifestyle. “The Gambler” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky shows another example of obsessive gambling features. From a negative perspective, literature protagonists use casino-obsessed characters to increase the thrill of their works.

They make their characters sometimes fall and use gambling to relieve despondency and stress. Even if gambling is often portrayed in a negative way by writers, it may serve to probe human psychology. They may teach us why characters take unreasonable risks and wager, knowing that the chances of winning may be low.

How Realistic Are Writers Talking About Casinos?

Writers Talking About Casino

The reality of casino and gambling descriptions depends on one simple thing: is the author talking about his personal experience, or using the description of the casino to bring atmosphere to the book?

Dostoyevsky’s book “The Gambler” describes his personal experience after he lost all his money in card games and got into debt. The Great Gatsby is not a book about a casino, but there it is necessary to give detail to the image of the character. The question is – what is the purpose of the author.

Let’s analyze several both fiction and non-fiction texts to determine which of them provide the most realistic portrayal of casinos and gambling.

  • “Beat the Dealer” by Edward O. Thorp: This is a non-fiction work and provides a very technical and detailed account of the card counting strategy in blackjack. It’s undoubtedly one of the most realistic portrayals of the casino and gambling world, but it’s limited by its narrow focus and might be complex for the average reader.
  • “The Gambler” by Fyodor Dostoevsky: This piece of fiction is based on Dostoevsky’s personal experience with gambling. This novel provides a fascinating and psychologically profound look at the psychology of gamblers, exploring themes such as gambling addiction, debts, and destructive behavior. It does not focus on the technical aspects of games, but it can give you a good understanding of the motives and emotions associated with gambling.
  • “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” by Hunter S. Thompson: This novel is a semi-autobiographical description of Thompson’s wild adventures in Las Vegas. Although it describes casinos and gambling, it does so in a very stylized and hyperbolic manner, which doesn’t always provide a realistic view of actual casino gambling.

Out of these three books, It could be said that “Beat the Dealer” by Thorp undoubtedly provides the most realistic portrayal of the technical aspect of gambling, while “The Gambler” by Dostoevsky offers the most realistic view of the psychological side of gambling.

While “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” by Thompson is a great piece of literature, its depiction of casinos and gambling is the least realistic among these three books.


casinos in movies

There are numerous misconceptions about gambling rooted in literature and cinematography. Filmmakers and writers often use gambling to increase the excitement and thrill of their works since they understand the popularity of casinos far and wide.

Despite existing differences between real and depicted casinos, such works may provide a comprehensive understanding of human nature, leading to taking risks and playing casino games.