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How have casinos influenced cinema?

With neon lights, spinning roulette wheels and opulent interiors, casinos are made for the movies. The home of excitement, glamour and danger, nothing can quicken the pulse and boost adrenaline levels quite like a tense gambling scene. With an eclectic selection of characters, luxurious surroundings and large sums of money on the line, it stands to reason that a casino makes a great backdrop for a film.

Designed to distract from reality, a good movie can really showcase its setting. Sleek, sophisticated and sexy, many cult films and important pieces of cinema history feature casinos; after all, what’s better than living vicariously through your favourite actor, watching them put it all on the line and lose, or even better, win. 

2006’s Casino Royale dragged gambling back into the mainstream focus and A-listers such as Brad Pitt and George Clooney are well-known for their love of all-night poker games. But why should the celebs have all the fun? You don’t need to fly to Montenegro or buy a tux to win big, online casinos such as offer the chance to play from the comfort of your own home. Grab a martini, pop on your favourite casino film and play along.

Casino (1995)

You can’t talk about casino films without mentioning this eponymous classic. Directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert DeNiro, Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci, this gritty mob thriller focuses on the greed behind popular Las Vegas casinos. With a large amount of swearing, this cult film garnered several award nominations, as well as the Academy Award for Best Actress for Sharon Stone.

Casino Royale (1967, 2006)

While Britain’s favourite secret service agent regularly visits casinos, no other Bond film features them as heavily as Casino Royale. An integral part of the story, the plot of the film surrounds a series of high-voltage and high-tension games of Texas Hold-em. While Daniel Craig’s Bond verbally and mentally spars with his opponent in the 2006 remake, the original 1967 edition places a heavier emphasis on the gambling scenes.  

Ocean’s 11 (1960, 2001)

The ultimate heist movie, this comedy, crime-caper tells the story of a crack team of criminals, with plans to steal over $150 million from a trio of famous casinos. With twists and turns at every corner, the team’s plot is more of a gamble than a sure bet.

21 (2008)

A more modern twist on classic casino films, this heist thriller is based on a true story. Using a complex system of card counting and secret signals, a team of MIT intellectuals manage to crack the game of Blackjack, taking a large casino for millions of dollars in the process.  

The Hangover (2009)

The epitome of ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’, a trio of Hollywood’s finest prove Las Vegas’ reputation for raucous bachelor parties. Waking up with no memory of the night before to find a tiger in the bathroom and a baby in the closet, three confused friends must piece together their exploits to find their missing groom before the wedding.