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It’s common knowledge that not all cinematic thrills are created equal. However, while action, crime, and adventure releases often top the list of enjoyable films, there’s something undeniably captivating about casino movies.

The world of high-stakes gambling is a breeding ground for suspense. And so, movies that follow casino players testing their luck usually tap into our desire for excitement. In turn, these films leave us on the edge of our seats as we watch the fortunes of award-winning actors hang in the balance.

If cinematic works that fit this description rock your boat, then you don’t have to go too far. We have carefully curated some of the most enjoyable movies with plots that take place within a casino house. Here are five of the best movies about the gambling world.

The Sting (1975)

Robert Redford plays Johnny Hooker who finds trouble with a powerful mob boss after he unknowingly steals from him. When his partner is murdered, Hooker seeks out Paul Newman’s Henry Gondroff, to help him pull one back on the mob boss.

How do they go about it? Both criminals enlist other criminals, scheming up an elaborate plan involving a betting parlor, lots of gambling, and even more at stake.

Casino (1995)

Pretty obvious from the title, Casino is set in 70s Las Vegas, following expert gambling handicapper Sam “Ace” Rothstein who runs a casino for the Italian mafia. Ace is successful, impressing the mob to send his friend Nicky Santoro to protect him. He soon after falls in love with Ginger McKenna, whom he marries. Everything only goes downhill from there on in the movie.

The film entertains with typical scenery of casino houses, showcasing popular games of that era including blackjack, roulette, and slots. Casino was also filmed in the Rivera Casino of Las Vegas with dazzling shots of gamblers enjoying card games and playing slots.

The Card Counter (2021)

Paul Schrader directs Oscar Issac in this movie, which takes a dark spin on the gambling film culture. William Tell is an ex-convict who learned how to count cards during his time in jail. Tell is a free man by the movie’s start grappling with his gloomy past, traveling from casino houses as a discreet gambler.

This film shifts from the common fast paced casino thrillers, using gambling to explore the grief and suffering of the character. While the movie does have an existential theme, there are enough scenery and elements of casino gambling explored in the movie.

California Split (1974)

The saying that ‘Two heads are better than one’ is driven home in this comedy. Bill Denny and Charlie Walters are individually unlucky gamblers, but together they are an unbeatable pair. They both go on a betting spree, hunting for the jackpot from racetracks and bars in Los Angeles, to casinos in Reno.

Eventually they find themselves at a poker game against world champion Amarillo Slim. California Split is a feel good casino movie that follows a newly found friendship of two gambling partners.

Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

This film is a successful reboot of the 1960 original, and perhaps the best heist movie of its time. Danny Ocean is the leader of an 11 crew of con men who attempt an audacious heist of three Las Vegas Casinos.

The movie is packed with an impressive star-studded ensemble, and the first of the Ocean’s movie series. While a lot of gambling does not happen, the risk and danger of the casino heists very well makes up for it.

Final Thoughts

Casino movies offer a thrilling escape into a world of high stakes, without ever leaving your seat. And all the money you ever get to risk is the cost of a cinema ticket or streaming subscription. But don’t take our word for it. Dig into our list of the best gambling movies and experience the mesmerizing glow of roulette wheels, slot machines and colorful casino lights today.

Emily Davis

Emily has a deep understanding of the gambling industry's regulatory landscape. With over 12 years of experience, she keeps readers informed about changes in legislation that affect both online and brick-and-mortar casinos.

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