Casinos and Movies: The perfect combo?


In Hollywood, casinos are depicted as lavish establishments that are filled with celebrities, high-stakes gambling, and the lure of riches. Movies like “Rain Man” and “The Hangover Part II” show that casinos can be a locus for memorable moments in one’s life. Some actors have even managed to make a career out of portraying casino scenes. The Las Vegas strip is littered with real-life casinos that appeared in notable Hollywood films. Here are a few


Ocean twelve, 2014

In “Ocean’s Twelve”, Matt Damon’s character lives in Vegas and we see him going to the Bellagio hotel/casino on three separate occasions throughout the movie. The Bellagio has become a common filming location due to its lavish interior.

Murder at the Bellagio, 2011

In 2011 the film “Murder at the Bellagio” was released. In it, a man attempts to kill his wife (played by Jennifer Lopez) after finding out that she killed his brother. The Bellagio was used as a primary setting for this movie. The main characters interact with several of their hotel’s entertainers and some scenes were shot on location during the day.

Ocean’s eleven, 2001

“Ocean’s Eleven” is the remake of the 1960 heist film of the same name. The characters (played by George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Matt Damon) are set to rob three Las Vegas casinos on New Year’s Eve. This movie was filmed in a lavish set that was constructed in a large sound stage.

Leaving Las Vegas, 1995

“Leaving Las Vegas” is a movie starring Nicolas Cage. The plot revolves around a suicidal alcoholic that arrives in Las Vegas to drink himself to death. The main character is shown frequenting casinos in between drinking bouts and he even wins thousands of dollars at one point during the film. The movie was filmed on location at the Desert Inn and the Riviera.

Casino, 1995

“Casino” is a crime drama that takes place in Las Vegas. It is based on the true story of Frank Rosenthal, who served as the manager of a casino called Stardust. In this film, we see a glimpse of casino owner Sam “Ace” Rothstein (played by Robert De Niro) conversing with one of his employees, Nicky Santoro (played by Joe Pesci).

Diamonds are forever, 1971

James Bond movies have become synonymous with Las Vegas over the years. In “Diamonds are Forever”, Sean Connery’s character is tasked with investigating a diamond smuggling ring. He goes to Las Vegas and stays at The Stardust.

Casino Royale, 2006

“Casino Royale” is the first installment in the rebooted James Bond franchise starring Daniel Craig. While it takes place in a different setting, many of the same aspects of being a casino owner are shown. In one scene, the main character is seen entering the casino and being escorted through a clandestine route to avoid detection by his competitors. This scene was shot in the Venetian hotel/casino.

Goldfinger, 1964

In “Goldfinger”, James Bond is shown attempting to flee the villain by driving his Aston Martin DB5 onto the Las Vegas Strip. He crashes through the gates of Caesars Palace.

Bugsy, 1991

“Bugsy” is a biopic film that chronicles the rise and fall of real-life gangster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, who was responsible for building The Flamingo casino in Las Vegas. In this movie, we see Bugsy’s girlfriend living at The Stardust casino and she has a conversation with Sam Rothstein (played by Elliott Gould) regarding some stolen diamonds.

Black Rain, 1989

“Black Rain” is a detective story that takes place in Japan and the U.S. In one scene, we see Michael Douglas’ character attempt to track down a kidnapped Japanese teenager by exiting his hotel room and walking through the lobby of the Golden Nugget along with several other characters.

Skyfall, 2012

“Skyfall” is the twenty-third film in the James Bond franchise. In this movie, James bond visits Macau, a Chinese city-state. Some casino scenes were filmed inside the Venetian hotel/casino.

Titanic, 1997

“Titanic” is one of the highest-grossing films of all time. It’s also one of the most successful movies to be filmed in Las Vegas. In this film, a doomed couple makes a stop at The Stardust as part of their honeymoon.

What do Skyfall, Titanic, Casino Royale, and Ocean’s Eleven have in common? They all prominently feature casinos set in them. But why?

  1. They’re happy places

It turns out that Hollywood likes to set movies at casinos because they’re happy places—even when the film is not a comedy. Casinos are bright and cheery with plenty of rich people who are betting big bucks. The floor may seem like a giant slot machine for gamblers to play on but it can actually be fun for everyone else as well as the dealers who get into it with the players almost like a Vegas show. Get free credits in bingo blitz and experience this fun yourself.

  1. They’re perfect for setup

Casinos are great places for a movie to set up the hero, the villain, and their love interest in the story. James Bond is famous for his casinos in films like Casino Royale and Skyfall, while villains of all sorts are often found gambling in them from Kingpin in Spider-Man 3 to Seth Green’s character in Swingers. And passionate love interests? The pool guy Penny dated on Big Bang Theory always hung out in casinos and it was actually at a casino that Leonard’s wife first met his co-worker Raj.

  1. We’re fascinated by rich people

Humans have been fascinated with the lives of the rich and famous forever, and no place is more a symbol for that than casinos. Casinos are where you can actually see them up close and very personally and see how they play with their money. The rich are also mysterious to us all because, given how little we understand about their lives, it’s fascinating how often they show up in movies that otherwise have nothing to do with them at all. This is especially true of James Bond movies where the casinos he visits are often just bridges from one action scene to the next.

  1. They’re full of drama

The biggest movies of all time are films set in casinos. That’s because they’re filled with drama—not just the drama of gambling, but the story behind it as well. The romance, the crime, and the tragedy can be as big a part of these movies as the actual gambling that we see on screen. That’s why Skyfall was so big at the box office and why it has all those Oscars to its name as well. But it’s nothing new; from Ocean’s Eleven to Casino Royale, casinos have been used for dramas that are just as much about people as about money or cards.

  1. The risks are just as important as the payoffs

Everyone loves a rags-to-riches story, and while it may be fun to watch casino winners rake in cash, it’s even more interesting to watch them fall from riches to rags. Kingpin was a loser at the beginning of Spider-Man 3 who turned his life around through gambling. In Swingers, Jon Favreau spent weeks becoming wealthy at casinos in order to teach his friend how to act like a winner and thus gain confidence with women. In The Cooler, Alec Baldwin’s character made the mistake of helping out old friends instead of casino security when they asked him for help stopping an arsonist who had threatened them all. There’s something so intriguing about watching people play big and potentially lose big because if you make the wrong bet there’s nothing you can do but take it.

  1. They’re a great backdrop for stories

Just as casinos have been used for stories that have nothing to do with gambling, when they are used for gambling stories they’re not only set up perfectly, but they can also be a great way to frame a story. There can be no mystery in Ocean’s Eleven without the casino setting. James Bond couldn’t be Bond without the casinos he visits in his films, and so on and so forth.


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