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5 Movie Plots Influenced by the Spin of a Roulette Wheel

Photo by Jeremy Yap on Unsplash

Games have long been an inspiration for movie scriptwriters and producers. Whether it’s board games like chess, such as in Searching for Bobby Fischer, or even made-up board games like Jumanji, games have a habit of being used to determine the fate of even the most important movie characters.

There is something quite alluring about the spin of the roulette wheel too. It’s a walk into the unknown, with no anticipation as to where the ball will land. The random nature of roulette has also been known to bring thrills to movie storylines on the big screen.

The beauty of playing and understanding roulette is its simplistic game dynamics. All you need to do is focus on which numbered pocket the ball will land on. It’s a fast-paced favourite on casino floors with a growing choice of variants at online casinos too; these include American roulette – featuring a green double zero pocket – and even games with higher maximum bets for so-called high-rollers.

In truth, roulette has been portrayed in all manner of Hollywood movies, from action thrillers to comedies. Below, we celebrate five of the most successful roulette-inspired films at the box office.

Photo by De’Andre Bush on Unsplash


The 1942 classic Casablanca is considered by many movie buffs to be one of the finest examples of a film in the industry’s history. It’s still a cult classic more than 80 years since its release at the box office. Humphrey Bogart plays Rick and Ilsa is played by Ingrid Bergman. In the roulette-inspired scene, Rick attempts to help Ilsa at the roulette table. He decides to bet on the ball landing on 22 twice in succession. Amazingly, he wins both spins. The odds of that happening are something like 1-in-1,369.

California Split

Robert Altman’s California Split is a 1970s classic, based on a relationship between two long-time friends. Elliot Gould plays Charlie and George Segal plays Bill, both of whom enjoy a flutter at the casino tables. There are many scenes where Charlie and Bill play the roulette wheel, underlining the trials and tribulations of the game. The friends go on to sample all kinds of casino games together, including craps, before returning to their run-of-the-mill lives.


The 1998 film Croupier sees Clive Owen assume the main role as Jack Manfred. Jack is a budding writer struggling for work and takes a job in a casino working as a croupier. It just so happens that Jack gets roped into a major heist on the casino. It’s one of the most successful neo-noir crime dramas in modern cinema, with roulette wheels aplenty. A £3m budget was comfortably surpassed by box office takings which hit over £5.6 million, demonstrating the appeal of casino life.

Indecent Proposal

The erotic drama Indecent Proposal, starring Demi Moore, Woody Harrelson and Robert Redford, was controversial in many ways but this just made it a more successful hit with audiences. It celebrated its 30th birthday this year, with many people remarking on how well it holds up so long after its initial release. However, there is a very important scene involving a roulette wheel within it. David and Diana place all their chips on red at the roulette table and… well, you’ll have to watch the movie to find out what happens next.

Run Lola Run

This is a rather leftfield pick as most movie fans are unlikely to have encountered it. However, the German film Run Lola Run is a clever movie inspired heavily by roulette. The plot is based on a woman who must win 100,000 Deutschemarks within a tight time limit. The experimental movie has not one but three separate endings, one of which involves her winning 126,000 Deutschemarks at the roulette table. Similarly to Casablanca, she bets on number 20 for three spins in a row, winning all three bets. There’s a 0.00197% chance of this happening!

What’s your favourite roulette-themed movie? Do you prefer one that hasn’t made the cut here? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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