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The Best Gambling and Casino-Themed Movies of All Time

One of the first things our early ancestors did once agriculture had replaced hunting and gathering as a means of existence, and provided them with a bit more security and leisure time, was to start gambling.  

And ever since then, games of chance have remained a hugely popular human pastime. There is evidence of organised gambling dating back to 2300 B.; and the oldest casino in the world, the Casino di Venezia, opened in 1638. So it’s no surprise that the film industry has, since its inception, produced a vast number of films dealing with the topic. Since the Lumiere Brothers filmed a card game at Villa du Clos des Plages in La Ciotat, France, in 1895, gambling and casinos have been a favourite theme on the silver screen. Here we’ve put together a list of our picks for the four best gambling and casino-related movies of all time. 

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

A classic cult film by the incomparable Terry Gilliam based on a classic cult novel by the infamous father of Gonzo journalism, Hunter S. Thompson. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas follows the adventures of journalist Raoul Duke, played by Johnny Depp, and his psychopathic lawyer Dr Gonzo played by Benicio Del Toro on a drug-fuelled rampage through the desert to Las Vegas. Here, they blow the money received to cover the Mint 400 motorcycle race as their reality dissolves into a hallucinogenic nightmare. And there’s some gambling action along the way. 

Croupier (1998)

Croupier is one of the rare, perhaps only, British gambling films that has managed to reach cult status. few gambling movies to come out of Britain that managed to reach classic cult status. Jack Manfred, played by Clive Owner, a struggling writer in London, takes a job as a croupier to support himself and research his net novel. Gambling has always been part of most people’s lives, and its popularity and accessibility have been greatly helped by huge improvements in online and mobile connectivity. This has been evident in the continued success of online brands, as seen with Gala Casino and other established operators in the business. So Jack decides to explore the life, only to get sucked into the not-so-glamorous side of gambling and has to face his own demons.

The Gambler (1980)

Director Karel Reisz’s  90s classic film explores the themes of gambling addiction and the devastating consequences it has. The main character, Axel Freed, is played by one of Hollywood’s most underrated performers, James Caan, in a stellar performance that lays bare the desperation of addiction. 

Rounders (1998)

No list of gambling films can be complete without at least one about poker, and our choice is Rounders. Directed by John Dahl, this iconic poker film stars Matt Damon as Mike McDermott, a law student with a gift for the game. Despite his talent, he has sworn off gambling after losing all his money to Teddy (John Malkovich). But when his childhood friend gets out of prison, he’s sucked back into the poker circuit.


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