Getting reeled in:the Portrayal of Gambling in films

Many of us first encountered the adrenaline rush of gambling in movies such asOcean’s Eleven, The Gambler, Casino Royale, or even Barry Lyndon for the historical fiction fans out there. But does this difference between real gambling and fictional gambling make a difference? Movies are, after all, for entertainment.

Well, researchers have several different ideas on the subject and whether or not film depictions of gambling can influence how the rest of society perceives gambling in general.

The darker side of gambling

In most films that portray gambling, it is depicted either very positively or negatively with little nuance. An article published in the 2007Journal of Gambling Issues found that most films depicted gambling in one or more of the below eight ways:

  • Pathological gambling
  • Seemingly magical skills of a gambler
  • A happy ending derived through a miraculous gambling success
  • Gamblers who are ‘suckers’
  • Cheating gamblers
  • Gambling and professional, organized crime
  • A casino heist
  • Gambling used as the background of a narrative to provide symbolic context

The authors of the article found that these themes run through most movies that depict gambling and that they usually distort the reality of gambling and gaming. These distortions can create a ripple effect and, in turn, change public perception of gambling and spread misinformation about the reality of gambling.

Glamour and gambling

One thing that most gambling movies have in common is an element of glamour. Whether the film is portraying high-flying stockbrokers who are betting on currencies, debonair thieves who are breaking into gorgeous casinos, or fancy poker tournaments and casinos, everything is given a glamorous sheen. Films such asOcean’s Eleven, Molly’s Game, Casino Royale, The Wolf of Wall Street, and American Hustle all depict the high-stakes, fast-paced gambling as flashy, glittery, and seductive. The heroes and heroines are mainly all big-name stars who emerge from glossy casino tables victorious.

Contrasting such alluring depictions are movies such asThe Gambler and Uncut Gemsthatshow the destructive, punishing aspects of a gambling addiction thathas lost all of its appeal. These films show gambling to be dangerous, addictive, and all-encompassing.

However, they are two extremes of gambling thatdo not accurately reflect the reality of most gamblers – that gambling is a fun, exciting hobby that is enjoyed in moderation. As more and more films are made thatinclude scenes of casinos or gambling references, it is likely that the overly dramatized depictions of gambling as either highly glamorous or extremely dangerous will give way to films showing gambling realistically as a fun, everyday hobby. If you enjoy gambling online and benefit from attractions such as the Golden Nugget bonus code, you will understand that gambling, as it is portrayed in films, is a world away from the reality of today.

Gambling inaccuracies

Anyone who has gambling experience knows that unlike the movies, in real life, not everyone in a casino is young, gorgeous, and dripping with diamonds. However, aside from the patrons, what other inaccuracies exist in filmic depictions of gambling? Well, many people might not notice these slip-ups, but for expert gamblers, some of the inaccuracies found in movies are downright distracting.

In the fan-favorite casino Royale, there are a few minor slip-ups that you might catch the next time you watch it. When James Bond and his nemesis play poker at a high-end island casino, Bond and his enemy win hand after hand of poker while the other players continue to lose. That is unrealistic at best as even master poker players and international poker stars lose a game here and there. Also, when Bond finishes the game, he tosses a chip to the dealer as a generous-looking tip. The tip seems generous until you realize that chips have no inherent monetary value and are tied to a specific, locked account – meaning that the dealer cannot receive any funds from the tip.

In the hit comedy The Hangover, one of the characters, Alan, begins counting cards to win big money in Las Vegas. In the film, Alan starts mouthing out the numbers of the cards and doing math in his head to find the right sums. In reality, however, if a security guard saw that you were counting cards, you would be immediately removed from the table.

These are just a few of the examples of gambling inaccuracies in cinema. Next time you watch a movie with a gambling scene, look closer – you might be able to pick out a few of the mistakes.

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