Casinos In Popular Culture

From Las Vegas to Macau, casinos have captured the imagination of many and played a huge part in popular culture. From hits on the silver screen to TV series and documentaries and from works of literature to popular songs – the arts celebrate casinos and a wide range of table games. Let’s take a look at some of the most notable examples of live casino immortalized in popular culture.

James Bond Popularizes Casinos

Watch any James Bond film and what do you notice? 007 loves casinos. From the first film in the franchise, Dr. No in 1962, to one of the most recent, Skyfall. Bond has a penchant for high-stakes, and it doesn’t matter what game he’s playing because he’s played them all.

One of the more memorable scenes is in the 2006 blockbuster Casino Royale and from the title alone, you’d expect there to be plenty of table action. In Daniel Craig’s debut, we see him enter a Poker tournament with a $10 million buy-in, organized by Le Chiffre. Voted the ‘best Poker movie scene’ ever, we see our hero face off against the villain. The tension is high throughout, much like the classic casino game. At one stage, it looks as though it’s all over for Bond who has his drink poisoned, but he returns to the table and takes down the villain. While it’s not the truest representation of Poker, it’s thrilling.

Real-Life Escapades On The Big Screen

While the majority of scenes depicted in novels and movies are purely fictional, there’s one example that’s based on a true story. American author Ben Mezrich’s Bringing Down the House is all about a group of card counters, known as the MIT Blackjack Team. The novel went on to inspire two movies, 21 (2008) and The Last Casino (2004). The former was a box office smash, taking close to $158 million.

The MIT Blackjack Team was a group of students from many of the USA’s leading colleges, who used card counting techniques and other strategies. Managed by founding member J.P. Massar and Bill Kaplan, the team went on to have years of success, winning millions of dollars.

The Glitz And Glamour of Vegas

While casinos themselves provide the luxury facilities and grand stages for bands and singers to perform, the theme has emerged as a hot topic for pop songs over the years. No song is more iconic than Elvis Presley’s Viva Las Vegas, which has become an unofficial anthem for the city. Encapsulating the sights and sounds of Sin City, the song also captures the excitement of the casino, referring to many games including Blackjack, Poker and Roulette.

Popstar Katy Perry also released a track called Waking up in Vegas, which paid homage to the adage, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”. While the lyrics don’t mention the casino, the video featured scenes in one. You’ll see Perry and her love interest winning the jackpot at the slot machine, as well as the Roulette table. Further scenes show other casino games played. Side note, the video even stars professional Poker player Daniel Negreanu. 

The tension and excitement surrounding a casino make it an easy subject matter to integrate within popular culture. We’ve not even mentioned themed Slots inspired by TV and film, which help increase the popularity of online gaming. Have we missed anything? Leave a comment below with your favorite ‘Casino in pop culture’ references.

Published by Larry Fire

I write an eclectic pop culture blog called THE FIRE WIRE that features articles about books, comics, music, movies, television, gadgets, posters, toys & more!

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