Gambling has long been a subject of fascination for filmmakers and authors. On rating websites like IMDb, movie enthusiasts can find countless casino flicks for their next movie nights. The glitz and glamour attached to the most prestigious gambling halls across the planet translate well to the silver screen. The high stakes and thrills of high-tension tabletop games like poker and blackjack also make for electrifying cinematic and literary material. So, how are casinos connected to the mainstream pop culture? Let’s find out.
Casinos and culture: a legacy that goes a long way
The very first gambling venue was inaugurated in Venice in the 17th century. From then on, the casino craze quickly took over the world. Lavish premises opened up from Vegas to Monte-Carlo, with the resort casino in its modern form taking shape throughout the 19th century.
Many prominent authors of that period explored the topic of gambling, including Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky, who mirrored his own addiction to roulette in the 1866 short novel The Gambler. The interest in gambling would soon extend to the movie theatres.
The earliest depiction of gambling on the big screen goes as far back as 1910 in the German drama serial Arsène Lupin contra Sherlock Holmes. Considering the first motion pictures had only been projected by the French Lumière Brothers fifteen years prior, the film industry wasted no time embracing the gambling theme. The golden days of Hollywood would then see the success story of the young up-and-coming gambler become a common trope with cult classics like The Cincinnati Kids. Movies exploring the seedy underbelly of casinos and their ties with organized crime also flourished in cinemas, from Casino to Molly’s Game.
Popularity fuelled by iconic pop culture characters
A poker or craps table is the perfect stage to set to let a character’s personality shine. Incidentally, many beloved fictional figures have made gambling one of their trademarks. The first to spring to mind is none other than the most stylish British spy in pop culture, the oh-so-iconic James Bond.
Casino sequences are essentially a staple of any Bond movie. The introduction sequence to Casino Royale, which sees Agent 007 confront the charismatic antagonist Le Chiffre, is even considered one of the absolute best poker scenes in cinema history. In an interview for Polygon, director Martin Campbell confessed this unforgettable opening scene was as elaborate as any Bond stunt.
Han Solo is yet another infamous gambler. In what went down as a foundational moment for the Star Wars saga, the coolest pilot in the galaxy snatches the Millenium Falcon from fellow smuggler Landro Calrissian after winning a game of sabbac – space poker. Many Han-centric stories also put him up to James Bond-esque challenges, such as the Star Wars: Han Solo graphic novel.
Casino’s influence on the gaming sphere
With about 3 billion gamers globally, video games sure have entered the mainstream. And the number of games that involve gambling is simply staggering. Several developers play out the casino theme to a tee in their game levels and environments. For instance, the characters in the indie run and gun action game Cupheads take down bosses designed after timeless card or dice games. Just as many classics like the neo-noir point-and-click Grim Fandango, the racing title Mario Kart DS, and the story-driven puzzler Professor Layton and the Unwound Future include memorable casino levels.
From open-world RPGs to casual farming simulations, countless titles make room for casino minigames, too. In-game casinos in series like Grand Theft Auto and Like a Dragon have become such fan favorites that removing them would spark outrage. Yet, that interest isn’t one-sided since the iGaming industry also looks up to video games for inspiration.
Video game-themed slots based on franchises like Tomb Raider or Street Fighter come in no short supply online. And players can often claim free spins to try them out. To pick the most profitable promotions around, they may check websites like CasinoBonusCA. Hundreds of up-to-date casino offers await, from welcome deals to no deposit bonuses. Advanced filters help users sort through bonus types, software providers, and more. Additionally, detailed bonus descriptions and comparison tools come in handy for players to know what they’re getting out of each promotion.
Casinos have a storied history in as many movies as video games and novels. In turn, pop culture also heavily influences the industry. Long story short, pop culture and casinos are as intertwined as ever.
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