Casino in Movies: Games We Love To Watch

Casino and movies have been involved and intertwined more than you might think. We are not talking about the 1920s scandals and 1930s mobsters who operated gambling joints, but about a love affair that spans decades and genres. There is no adrenaline-induced movie without casino gaming, and that’s a fact.

Anna Rosak, a digital marketing expert from Poland, specializing in live casinos (or how she calls them in Polish, “kasyno na żywo”) agrees and says that even if the main protagonist only plays roulette, it can be a turning point in the plot:

“Gambling provides a perfect set of all sorts. It can be a glitzy Vegas venue or a gritty basement somewhere on the outskirts of Chicago. It can be used as a plot device that shows our hero is desperate, or to make him the smartest person in the room. Even if a film is not about gambling, it will very likely include it in one way or another”, says Rosak and adds that even Star Wars have space casinos to be proud of.

But what games that we know appear in movies? Rosak knows the answer.


Poker is often known as the king of all casino games, and we dare to say it is also the king of all games featured in movies. Its appeal lies in the fact it is played pretty much all over the world, and even among people who never stepped into a casino.

“You can play it with friends for peanuts, or at a VIP table in Mirage – the level of thrill remains the same”, says Rosak. And what are her favorite poker movies? “Rounders is the most obvious answer, but I also love Molly’s Game and James Bond: Casino Royale. It all depends on if I want to see something more real, or a fantasy”, reveals the expert.


The popular casino game, also known as 21, is one of the real casino classics. What makes it so special is that perfect balance of luck and skill. Namely, although it starts as a typical game of chance, blackjack can also be approached studiously, and with proper analysis, it can even be quite predictable.

That is why it found its spot in any movie where a character needs a Deux ex Machina to help him get out of a sticky situation.

Rain Man, Swingers, The Croupier, 21 – the list just goes on and on. However, one should never forget blackjack can be mastered, but not as quickly as in movies”, warns the expert Anna Rosak.


There is something about the sound of the ball hitting the wheel that makes roulette one of the most popular games on film, not even the silver screen could resist its charm. Featured n classics such as The Deer Hunter, as well as in more recent movies such as Black Panther, roulette is a trusty sidekick, and Anna explained why:

“It is simple, and everyone knows it. Although the game is far more complex than many think, the most basic red-black betting is everything a filmmaker needs to push things to the limit”, says she.


Lottery might seem like a bit of an oddball, but Rosak convinced us it was insanely popular among directors in the 1980s and 1990s: “The thing with lottery is – it can be life-changing, plus once you win it, you get the cash. If you win in roulette, you’ll go back to the table and perhaps even lose it all. The lottery will make your dream come true, as the prize outweighs the cost of play. Plus, it is much more family-friendly than other casino games.”

And we couldn’t agree more. We have seen the lottery in classic rom-coms, such as It Could Happen to You, and in the legendary Lucky Numbers. And how could we forget National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation when the Griswold family takes a ticket from a dead man?

Slot Machines

Slot Machines

“How many movies dedicated to slot machines are there? None. And how many casino movies featuring slot machines are there? All of them”, laughs Rosak and adds, “Slots are not very attractive to be part of the screenplay, but they are the most attractive game when it comes to establishing the time and place, and the general atmosphere of the casino.”

And we couldn’t agree more. Getting 7-7-7 might not visually be the most powerful plot device, but seeing shiny lights, and hearing coins, rings, and bells are essential to creating a casino atmosphere. Slot machines are heavily featured in Casino, Showgirls, Army of the Dead, and the Card Counter.

“There is no casino without slots. They are the most recognizable game of them all, and one that appeals to wide audiences. Art directors can pinch pennies on staircases, chandeliers, carpets, and poker, but they can’t skip a wonderful slot display if they want to make an impression”, concludes Rosak.

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Author: James

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