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What Are the Best Gambling and Casino-Themed Films of All Time?

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Whether you prefer the timeless sophistication of old Hollywood casinos or tense, dramatic thrillers that show the less glamorous side of gambling, there are hundreds of gambling and casino-themed films for you to choose from. We’ve chosen a handful of our all-time favorites to help you narrow down your search.

Casino Royale (2006)

We’re kicking off our list with the ultimate cool guy of casino gambling. Casino Royale is the first installment of the James Bond franchise that features Daniel Craig as the famous 007, and what better way to mark the transition than with a high-stakes poker game? Unlike the online tournaments that you might find at SlotsLV, this intense competition takes place in person at a Montenegro casino.

Released in 2006, this action-packed spy thriller is a modern depiction of the old-school glamour of casino gambling. Unlike other films in this list, US bettors may not recognize the casino where the action unfolds. Instead of the famous Vegas strip, the fictional “Hotel Splendide” is actually the Grandhotel Pupp in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.

Casinos are a prominent theme throughout the James Bond franchise, with The Tropicana featuring as Bond’s preferred gambling destination in the 1971 release Diamonds are Forever.

Oceans Eleven (2001)

The first installment in the Ocean’s franchise, Ocean’s Eleven, is one of the world’s most famous casino heist films. The 2001 release is a remake of the original 1960 film and features a star-studded lineup (including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and Julia Roberts.) There have been three more installments since Ocean’s Eleven was released two decades ago, including an all-female gang headed by the sister of the first movie’s leader, Debbie Ocean.

The movie does an excellent job of capturing the glitz and glamour of the Las Vegas gambling scene. Featuring some of the strip’s most iconic casinos – including The Bellagio, MGM Grand, and the Mirage – you’ll be able to experience a taste of the Nevada nightlife without leaving your couch.

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The Hangover (2009)

Okay, so this film isn’t strictly gambling-focused. But it’s filmed in Las Vegas’ palatial Caesars Casino, so how could we not include it in this list? Far from the glory of other casino-based films, The Hangover follows a group of very hungover friends as they try to find their pal Doug after his wild bachelor party. Released in 2009, the movie was filmed at a handful of Las Vegas casino locations, including the legendary Caesars Palace (where their suite was booked) and the Wild Wild West Casino and Hotel.

Clearly, the film was a hit with audiences across the world, and two more Hangover movies (aptly named “Part 2” and “Part 3”) were released in 2011 and 2013, respectively. However, the second two aren’t themed around casinos.

The Godfather (1972)

Voted one of the greatest movies of all time, The Godfather follows the head of a mafia family as he prepares to hand his empire over to his youngest son. The film is based on Mario Puzo’s 1969 novel of the same name, and the patriarch Vito Corleone is inspired by a mix of prominent 20th-century mafia figures (including Frank Costello and Joe Profaci.)

As you’d expect from any mafia-related movie, gambling plays a large part in the family’s business. The iconic Tropicana in Las Vegas features as one of Corleone’s casino businesses, though its name is changed to the fictional “Tropigala” in The Godfather II. Puzo’s original novel was actually inspired by his own gambling tendencies, habits that he formed while growing up poor in Hell’s Kitchen.

The Gambler (1974)

Written by James Toback and directed by Karel Reisz, the story follows literature professor Axel Freed as he falls deeper and deeper into debt to fuel his gambling addiction. Though it does show images of the high-flyer casino lifestyle, the intention of The Gambler is to take a closer look at the darker side of gambling and highlight the negative consequences it can have.

In The Gambler, the protagonist gambles with the borrowed money from his mother and struggles to pay her back. His inner compulsion to put himself in dangerous situations overpowers him, which leads him to lose the forty-four grand in desperation.

The plot truly demonstrates the repercussions of gambling if it turns into a malevolent obsession. As the protagonist remarks, he plays in order to lose, “[failure] is what gets my juice going – If I only bet on the games I know, I could at least break even.” However, he’s driven to bet the money he doesn’t have on ventures he knows he won’t win.

The film was remade in 2014, featuring Mark Wahlberg as its protagonist, but wasn’t as much of a hit with audiences as the iconic 1974 original. Many see it as a glamorized version of the story that focuses more on Hollywood-style shots and editing than the harrowing story itself.

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