How Casino Movies Create Crazes for Real Casinos and Gambling

From California Split, to The Croupiers and Casino Royal, the movie industry loves to tackle the casino world topic for its next blockbuster. The gambling world is fascinating, sulfurous, glamorous, intriguing and moody. It’s the world of expensive smoked cigars and bling-bling gold jewels. That makes a lot of people dream about it. Just one tiny chance to enter this world… These movies pushed many viewers to make the step and plunge into this world. For each new movie produced, online casinos and real casinos rub their hands, as they know that the new release will also bring more visits for them. Positive and negative, what impact movies have on the real gambling world?

Skyrocketing Numbers

Over the last two decades, many of the most popular movies to feature a casino, such as Ocean’s 11, Rounders and 21, have enjoyed great success at the box office. According to the American Gaming Association, the rate of new customers signing up to gamble rose by an average of 20 percent in casinos around the world after the release of these films.

According to the same association, there was a 22% increase in new gambling customers after the release of films such as “21” and “The Hangover”. The movies gave viewers an insight into the world of gambling. This includes strategy and the potential excitement that can come with it. As many people, ordinary people, can’t have access to real casinos, they took over online gambling platforms. As a result, online gambling revenue is skyrocketing. In fact, revenue from online gambling has more than tripled in the past decade. This phenomenon is driven by the emergence of popular casino films.

A Huge Profit for Casino Owners

Another survey conducted in the UK showed that moviegoers who watched gambling-themed movies were twice as likely to visit a casino for the first time within a year of the film’s release.

This increase in public interest of casinos has allowed the gambling industry to grow and expand. Since 1998, the total revenue from casinos in the US has more than doubled from roughly $1 trillion to about $2 trillion. Another statistic: the number of casinos has grown from 1,700 in 1998 to 2,800 in 2018.

Psychological Effects an Addiction

The reasons behind this craze are purely psychological. Movie viewers do not comprehend that what is going on in the movies are pure fiction and that it doesn’t depict reality.

The effects of this sudden enthusiasm is even more pronounced in teenagers and college students. They are more prone to develop a gambling addiction. Unfortunately, these types of binge-style movie watching can lead to negative consequences.

Studies have shown that people who watch casino movies for long periods of time are more likely to overestimate their chances of winning. This in turn leads to higher levels of frustration due to losses leading to even more gambling. The issue is further complicated by the fact that most casino movies tend to romanticize gambling and addiction. This glamorization and downplaying of the real dangers of problem gambling can lead viewers to take risks and make decisions that can be damaging to their financial and mental well-being.

Playing is ok, as long as it stays occasional. Or as long as the player is aware of the risks he is taking when visiting an online gaming website or pushing the doors of a real casino.

Cultural influence of Poker

Poker, more than just a game, has become a cultural phenomenon, its strategies and terminology infiltrating our daily lives. In literature, it’s a fertile ground for exploring themes of bluffing, deception, risk, and reward.

Al Alvarez’s Contribution: The Biggest Game in Town

A seminal work that brought poker into the literary spotlight is Al Alvarez’s “The Biggest Game in Town”.

Overview of The Biggest Game in Town

Published in 1983, this non-fiction book provides an intimate look into the high-stakes world of professional poker. Alvarez masterfully chronicles the 1981 World Series of Poker, bringing to life the vibrant characters and dramatic moments of the tournament.

Alvarez’s Unique Perspective on Poker

Unlike Dostoyevsky’s troubled gamblers, Alvarez’s poker players are skilled practitioners of their craft, their decisions calculated and strategic. The book elevates poker from a mere gambling game to a sport of skill and endurance.

Comparing the Representation of Gambling and Poker in Novels

Now that we’ve examined gambling and poker through the lens of Dostoyevsky and Alvarez, let’s compare their representations in literature.

Dostoyevsky vs. Alvarez: Different Approaches

Dostoyevsky’s portrayal of gambling is visceral and raw, reflecting his personal struggle with addiction. In contrast, Alvarez paints a respectful, almost reverential, picture of poker. He presents it as a cerebral game that requires discipline, skill, and a deep understanding of human psychology.

Impact of these novels on Gambling and Poker culture

Both Dostoyevsky and Alvarez’s works have significantly influenced our cultural understanding of gambling and poker. They’ve shaped perceptions, inspired countless other narratives, and contributed to the discourse on these complex themes.


From Dostoyevsky’s “The Gambler” to Alvarez’s “The Biggest Game in Town,” the portrayal of gambling and poker in literature serves as a mirror to society’s relationship with these games. These works provide insight into the allure and dangers of gambling, the skill and strategy of poker, and the human condition itself. They remind us that life, like a game of chance or skill, is a mix of strategy, luck, and timing.


Q: How does Dostoyevsky’s “The Gambler” portray the theme of gambling?

  1. A: Dostoyevsky explores the destructive power of gambling addiction through the protagonist’s obsession with roulette. The game symbolizes his tumultuous love affair and self-destructive tendencies.

Q: What makes Al Alvarez’s “The Biggest Game in Town” unique in poker literature?

  1. A: Alvarez presents poker as a game of skill and psychology, far removed from mere gambling. He portrays poker players as strategic, disciplined, and deeply understanding of human nature.

Q: How have the portrayals of gambling and poker in literature evolved over time?

  1. A: While early works like Dostoyevsky’s often portrayed gambling as a self-destructive addiction, more recent books like Alvarez’s depict games like poker as a combination of skill, strategy, and endurance.

Q: How do these works influence our understanding of gambling and poker?

  1. A: These works shape our cultural perceptions of these games, influencing the narratives that surround them and contributing to our understanding of their complexities.

Q: What are some other novels that explore the themes of gambling or poker?

  1. A: Some other novels that delve into these themes include “Casino Royale” by Ian Fleming, “The Cincinnati Kid” by Richard Jessup,


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