The casino industry has had a major influence on our everyday lives. But one thing that not many know is that gambling movies actually helped these activities in their legality back in the 1960s.
How? In the early ages of 20th century, gambling was illegal in most parts of the world. When gambling films started heating theatres, they proved to be a major success. The public became so fond of them that they wanted to play blackjack, poker, slots and other games in real life.
So, they started pressuring their governments to overturn the prohibition and start regulating these establishments. And they succeeded. Gambling is now legal in numerous countries. Gambling movies remained a big thing in the movie industry as well.
With that being said, we wanted to share some of the best gambling movies of all time. This list includes newer releases as well as films that are classics and helped the industry grow back in the day.
High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story (2003)
This is a gambling movie based on a true story. High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story was released in 2003 and it follows the life of Stu Ungar. He was a professional gin and poker player. The story in this movie is told in flashbacks and it includes various details of Ungar’s life. This includes his personal relationship with his father who was a bookmaker, his marriage and kids, etc.
Everything culminates with Ungar’s win in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) one year before he passed away.
The Gambler (1980)
Kenny Rogers as The Gambler or simply known as The Gambler is a 1980 movie about Brady Hawkes. He is an expert gambler who travels all the way to Texas to help Jeremiah, his long-lost son. He wants to introduce Jeremiah to the industry and teach him how to master it without actually developing a gambling addiction. The movie stars Kenny Rodgers, Bruce Boxleitner, Linda Evans and Harold Gould.
Molly’s Game (2017)
Molly’s Game is one of the best recent gambling movies. It stars Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Michael Cera and Kevin Costner. Just like High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story, this gambling film is based on a true story. The plot revolves around Bloom, who is known for organizing illegal poker game tables. Her actions make her the most wanted person by the FBI as they are trying to crack down on the organization.
Rounders may not be a true story gambling movie, but it is one of the best films ever made. It stars the legendary Matt Damon. He is a gifted poker player who ends up in trouble as he occurs massive debt. All he wants is to help his friend settle a score, but he ends up in major problems.
His actions lead him to a life-or-death game of poker with a mobster known as KGB. With all stakes on the line, will he manage to come out on top or succumb to the pressure?
Rain Man (1988)
Speaking of legendary actors, Rain Man is one of the few gambling movies that has a star-studded cast. Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise, Valeria Golino and Jake Hoffman are a few to mention.
A selfish youngster learns that his estranged father is actually a wealthy man. So, he decides to make a radical decision and kidnap his other son who suffers from autism. Several gambling scenes make this movie a must-watch as it is packed with action.
Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
Action is always welcomed, especially if it includes casino gambling. That’s what Ocean’s Eleven is all about. Not only is this among the all-time top casino movies, but its cast will blow your mind.
George Clooney, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Andy Garcia and Bernie Mac are the main stars of the show. Danny Ocean is a cunning gangster that assembles a team of 11 people. They roam the Las Vegas casinos and use various illegal strategies to win money and cheat.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is based on the same-named novel by Hunter S. Thompson. It stars Johnny Depp, Tobey Maguire and Benicio del Toro. Raoul Duke is a journalist that is in charge of covering the Mint 400 race in Las Vegas. He gets picked up by a group of strangers and after drugs start getting involved, the situation escalates to a whole other level.
The Cincinnati Kid (1965)
The Cincinnati Kid is one of the most legendary poker movies of all time. It tells the story of an up-and-coming young poker enthusiast who wants to make a name for himself. He wants to do so by beating the best player in the region – Lancey “The Man” Howard.
However, Eric Stoner, the young player, suffers a major loss and later finds out that the game was actually rigged. So, he wants to play on his own terms and make sure that he does not slip this time.
Casino Royale (2006)
Who doesn’t like a James Bond movie, especially if it includes gambling? Casino Royale was released in 2006 and it follows Bond’s journey into Montenegro casinos. He is after Le Chiffre, a criminal that allegedly has vital information for the British government.
The plan for Bond is to play poker, make Le Chiffre lose and thus, seek asylum with the British government. The government will grant him asylum in exchange for the information. However, Le Chiffre gets the better hand and Bond is suddenly in trouble.
The Gambler (2014)
People often say that Mark Wahlberg can adapt to any type of role and The Gambler proves that. He portrays the image of a university professor who suffers from gambling addiction. He always ends up owing money to the wrong people, but the good thing is that his family. Hence, his mother always ends up taking care of business.
However, she grows tired of it and says that if he ends up with another debt, she will not be there to help him. For a while, Wahlberg resists his urge to enter the gambling world, but that crashes one night when he spends all his money.
As a result, he picks up a debt that he cannot pay out. That leads him to massive trouble that he can’t get out of.
Uncut Gems (2019)
Our final pick is a traditional gambling film that does not feature casino games. Instead, it tells the story of a person who is known for his sports betting addiction. Adam Sandler is the main star of this show, alongside Julia Fox.
Howard Ratner is a well-known jeweller who is obsessed with making high stakes bets on all sports. After he ends up losing a lot of money, he gets caught up with various criminals and his only way out is to make a bet and pay out his debt with the winnings.
A lot of problems occur and even though he is able to pay off the debt, his greed makes him want to keep his money. This leads to even bigger trouble as Ratner runs out of other options.
Uncut Gems was a massive success in the movie industry and it was nominated for and won numerous prestigious awards.