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The Top 10 Most Popular Casino-Inspired Movies

It’s not difficult to see why so many movies are inspired by casinos. The location can act as a backdrop for so many movie genres, from history to crime to drama to comedy – not to mention suspense. A casino-based movie also provides an ideal platform on which to highlight the many characteristics of human nature – competitive spirit, grit, greed, power, addiction, and basically the need to escape by stepping outside of the real world for a while.

Viewers can also lose themselves in casino-themed movies. Many of us often replay our favorite moments over in our minds and even act out the most memorably scenes like the ones that analyzed so we can be our own hollywood star and relive our best-loved casino-inspired scenes over again.

There have been countless casino and gambling movies produced over the years so grab your popcorn, settle back and enjoy a rundown of the top 10 casino-inspired movies ever made.

1. Casino (1995)


If you’re looking for a movie that gives an insight into how a Las Vegas casino is run then you’ve hit the biggest jackpot with this quintessential masterpiece. The happy-clappy slot pulling tourists remain in the background as the film focuses on the life of a casino boss, Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein (Robert De Niro), his erratic friend (Joe Pesci), and his unstable wife (Sharon Stone).

The characters are based on real people and events which happened in mob-run casinos in the 1970s and 1980. Directed by Martin Scorsese, as well as glorious glamour you can also expect a couple of scenes of inglorious gore.

2. Casino Royale (2006)

The character of James Bond is no stranger to casinos but Casino Royale has been acclaimed as one of the best casino-themed 007 movies made. The broody Danial Craig plays Bond who attempts to bring down international terrorist financer Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen)by beating him in a high-stakes Texas Hold ‘Em game.

The action takes place in Casino Royale in Montenegro, and Bond fans love the fact that this movie sticks closely to Ian Fleming’s books. All the same, there’s still plenty of bondesque trademarks to savor – gadgets, chases, beautiful women, fast cars, and double-dealing. A great movie for both Bond enthusiasts and poker lovers.

3. Owning Mahowny (2003)


Despite its aura of glamour and excitement, gambling also has a dark and piteous side. Based on real events which happened in the early 1980s, Owning Mahowny tells the story of how a successful Canadian banker manages to fraud the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce out of 10 million dollars in order to feed his secret gambling addiction.

Philip Seymour Hoffman gives a convincing portrayal of Dan Mahowny and Minnie Driver plays his girlfriend. John Hurt plays Victor Foss, the leeching Atlantic City casino manager who benefits from Mahowny’s compulsion. The lesson here is to know your limits. As Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein would say: “The longer they play, the more they lose, and in the end, we get it all.”

4. Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971)

The next entry in the 10 most popular casino-inspired movies was a toss-up between this hilarious Western spoof and the more casino-centered Maverick (1994). The gunfighter won. Well, both movies do star the very personable James Garner.

Although Support Your Local Gunfighter is essentially about a con artist, Latigo Smith, who pretends to be a notorious gunfighter, it does have a couple of entertaining scenes in the local saloon. Latigo, who is wont to declare, “Roulette is for idiots” is often overcome with the compulsion to walk to the table and put all his money on number 23. The supporting cast includes the bulgy-eyed Jack Elam and Harry Morgan, with Suzanne Pleshette as the love interest.

5. Casablanca (1942)


Gin joints, looking at you kid, always having Paris, hills of beans, beautiful friendships, Humphrey Bogart in a white jacket and a bowtie… Set in a nightclub and casino during WWII, this classic of classics is still lauded by movie fans around the world.

Rick Blaine (Bogart) makes the difficult decision to help his former lover and her new husband escape the Nazis by letting them win the money for exit visas on a rigged roulette game. And this from a man who sticks his neck out for nobody. The stellar cast includes the beautiful Ingrid Bergman (Isabella Rossellini’s real-life mother), Paul Henreid, and Peter Lorre. Play it again and again, Sam. No, Ace Rothstein, I don’t mean you.

6. Croupier (1998)

From Morocco’s Casablanca in North Africa, we now move to South Africa’s Sun City where the casino scenes of this movie were shot. Actually set in London, Croupier explores the world of writer-in-waiting, Jack Manfred, (Clive Owen) who gets a job as a croupier in order to earn some money. Working in a casino atmosphere inspires him to write a novel based on his environment.

He also gets involved in a plan to rob the casino, and against casino rules has a couple of flings with women associated with his workplace. The movie’s style is a throwback to earlier noir movies with its use of internal monologues. It’s a super movie for those who want to see the inner workings of the gambling industry.

7. The Hangover (2009)


This riotous comedy follows the misadventures of four pals who head to Las Vegas for a bachelor party and a night of debauchery. They wake up the next day to discover the groom-to-be is missing and none of them has any memory of what happened the previous night.

Using clues from their trashed hotel suite they set about piecing together the events of their escapades so they can find their friend and establish what actually happened on their mad night on the town. The movie stars Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, and Justin Bartha. Watch out for the tiger in the bathroom and the baby in the closet.

8. 21 (2008)

Another casino-themed movie based on true life events – this time centered around Las Vegas. Trained by a math professor, Micky Rosa (Kevin Spacey) a group of Boston MIT students learns the skill of card counting at blackjack before taking Vegas casinos for millions. The students are played by Jim Sturgess, Kate Bosworth, and Aaron Yoo. Viewers and critics loved this movie which gave a great insight into the strategies of card counting, but the gambling industry was not too impressed in case the idea caught on. Hit me again, Sam – yeah, Ace this time I am talking to you.

9. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)


This is a comedy heist movie involving Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and 10 buddies who plan to rob 3 Vegas casinos at the same time and hopefully earn over $150 million for their trouble. Cast members include as the eternally handsome Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Elliot Gould, Andy Garcia, and Julia Roberts.

The movie was a huge hit and appreciated by audiences for the star-studded performances, the suave style, and witty banter. Ocean’s Twelve (2004) and Thirteen (2007) soon followed, making up the Ocean’s trilogy, all directed by Steven Soderbergh.

10. Rounders (1998)

Matt Damon and high-stakes poker star in this movie which sees Damon’s character Mike Mc Dermott as a reformed gambler who gets back in the game in order to help out his friend Worm (Edward Norton) who is being chased down by nasty loan shark Grama (Michael Rispoli).

The viewers are helped understand the mechanics of poker by Mike’s narration throughout the film which crescendos at a nail-biting heads up between Mike and Russian card sharp Teddy KGB (John Malkovich). Often described as the best poker movie ever made, this is definitely a must-watch for poker fans.

Movies based in and about casinos are really a moviemakers dream and the variety of themes ensures producers are never short of a good plot and storyline. Whatever your game is – be it poker, blackjack, roulette, slots – or whether you want to root for the casino or the gambler there’s always a movie out there for you to enjoy.