The Marriage of Movies and Casinos: Proof That Filmmakers Love Casino Scenes

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It is quite obvious for movie fanatics that casinos play a major role in a lot of films, both old and new. This is probably because casinos are filled with so many different emotions – such as romance, excitement, tension, and risk – that they provide the perfect venue for intense scenes, not to mention that casinos provide a beautiful and elegant backdrop to actors. There are even movies whose entire plot revolves around casinos. Here are just a few:

Casino

This 1995 Martin Scorsese epic crime film is about money, power, greed, deception, and murder. The movie opens our eyes to the brutal and cruel reality behind the glamorous façade of 1970s Las Vegas. Ace Rothstein and Nicky Santoro are two mobsters who move to the Sin City to make their mark. Ace, a sports oddsmaker based in Chicago, becomes a casino executive at the Tangiers Casino. Nicky, Ace’s childhood friend in Chicago, is a thief and a killer who moves to Las Vegas and eventually became known as the mob’s enforcer after he squeezed a man’s head in a vice. The plot thickens as the two compete against each other over a gambling empire and a high-priced call girl, Ginger McKenna, who married Ace and became the mother of his child.

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Casino Royale

In this intense Texas Hold’em scene in Casino Royale, the player to James Bond’s left moves all in for 6 million dollars, another player calls, and Bond’s adversary, who is seated across the table, raises the stake up to 12 million dollars. Bond decides to push all in for 40 million dollars. The players reveal their cards. The first player, who moved all in for 6 million dollars, had a weak flush, the next player had a pair of eights in the hole for a full house, while Bond’s nemesis had a stronger full house with A-6. Bond had a straight flush and the 115 million dollar pot is pushed towards him.

The Big Short

The film is based on Michael Lewis’ best-selling book, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, which explores the financial crisis experienced in the United States back in the 2000s, and there’s a scene in the movie where singer/actress Selena Gomez, playing herself, is at a blackjack table joined by economist Richard Thaler. The thrill and excitement present in this scene is something modern casinos are still trying to replicate to this day. For example, live blackjack at William Hill features a dealer on webcam to create a more authentic experience for the player. The Big Short is ultimately a metaphor for a growing housing market, showing how “boom and bust” go hand in hand.

The glitz and glamour of casinos is so fascinating in real life that filmmakers just cannot keep their hands off them in movies. Odds are, at least one movie with casino scenes is being filmed right now. Coming soon to a theater near you!


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Donald Francis "Don" Draper is a founding partner and the Creative Director at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Advertising Agency in Manhattan, NY. Prior to that position, he was the Director of the Creative Department at the Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency. He is regarded among his colleagues as the best to ever pitch copy.

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