From epic stories of gambling whizz-kids to action-packed tales of spies and their adventures, casinos and the related gambling activities have played a huge role in the global film industry. Needless to say, gambling is all about highs and lows which is exactly the kind of drama and tension that many films fans tend to enjoy. In most part, there has been a rather interesting dynamic between film studios and the gambling industry as they benefit from each other in a number of different ways.
Is Hollywood Obsessed with Gambling?
Well, obsession is a very strong word so to speak. However, it would be safe to say that filmmakers are often fascinated with gambling. There are several tales of celebrities engaging in both legal and illegal gambling activities and this, in a way, makes the case for the claim that Hollywood is indeed obsessed with gambling. But why?
Surprisingly, the answer to that question might be very simple. If you have been at a poker or blackjack table or even given a slot machine a shot, then you will probably have an idea about how emotionally engaging it can be. Literally, the whole spectrum of human emotions can be found wherever there is a gambling activity going on. Depending on how the games turn out for you, you will feel everything from excitement, happiness, anger, apprehension, sad and even heartbroken. Sometimes it even gets to a point where life and death situations are made through gambling.
Now, the core purpose of filmmaking is to invoke emotion by portraying emotion and gambling has an abundance of this. Basically, it gives the impression of people in their truest form or nature. There are several iconic gambling movies available right now. Each of these brings fans of gambling and film closer to the thrill involved when gambling. Now, you might never get to pull off a James Bond and gamble against villains in Macau but it is certainly thrilling to see everything play out on screen.
Fact or Fiction
Everyone has a different taste when it comes to films. That said, the question about whether a movie about gambling should be fiction or based on facts can be rather subjective. For people who love true stories, there are a number of great movies about gambling legends. Naturally, the goal of these movies is to portray everything in a way that best resembles actual real-life events. For instance, poker enthusiasts can get a few tips by watching movies such as High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story. Reviews may vary but it does a great job at showcasing the life and poker career of one of the world’s most successful poker players.
Despite all that, it is still important to acknowledge that film is also largely about imagination. Lots of filmmakers have mastered the art of bringing untold stories to life and the result is such amazing movies as Casino Royale and Skyfall. Gambling is portrayed in these films quite a bit which begs the question about the accuracy of such depictions. Well, in most cases filmmakers will try to be as realistic as possible but, in some cases, they may go out of their way to include something bizarre. Avid gamblers are often quick to point out such bizarre anomalies in the way gambling is depicted. Apparently, even fiction stories about gambling need to be based on factual gambling phenomena. The rules remain the same.
The actions of the gamblers in the films are not the only things that are grounded in reality though. Unless you are watching a tale about adventures in space or other planets, you will find that gambling movies are often based in real-world locations. Perhaps the most notable gambling destinations in movies are Macau and, of course, Las Vegas. These two destinations have been go-to places for filmmakers not just when they need to research about gambling but even when they are actually shooting the movies. This not only makes the films more relatable but is also a great way for the casinos to market themselves. Very smart.
The Crime Factor
Most, if not all, of the gambling films that have been released show a supposed relation between crime and gambling. While this not always the case in the real world, it is undeniable that the two things cross paths quite often. Films about crime are already very popular and films about gambling are also quite a treat for many people. Combine the two and you get an amazing action-packed film.
Unlike the case a few years or decades ago, gambling activities are no longer always synonymous with heists, the mafia, gangs or mobs. There is more regulation and oversight right now which makes it a legit business, at least in most parts. However, it goes without saying that when it comes to the film industry, drama sells. A gambling story is exciting on its own but with a bit of crime thrown into the mix, it becomes a mind-blowing cinematic treat.