The 16 Best Gambling Movies

A list of the best casino-based movies that will leave you wanting more.

In the world of cinema, there are some themes and settings that pop up again and again. Gambling is one of the themes that filmmakers use to bring out both positive and negative energy. As Joyce R. Knox, an online gambling expert points out, gambling has been a dominant theme, with the number of movies including casino scenes increasing decade after decade.

Scenes where players engage in a variety of casino games such as slots and poker, and choose the fast payout casino, have become a Hollywood mainstay. For those who choose the online casino route, the sensation that gambling movies provides is similar to the experience that one derives when playing real games. The anticipation, intrigue and excitement are just on another level.

So what are some of the best gambling movies that you can watch when not playing the games that casino Ontario has to offer? Here, we have a list of the 16 best gambling movies to start with.

1. California Split

Elliot Gould gave his best in this movie, released almost five decades ago. While it is meant to entertain the audience, casino movies also offer deep lessons about gambling addiction. Gould’s character, Charlie Waters, has gone beyond repair — he bets on almost anything. As experts warn, gambling enthusiasts should not let what hit Waters get them. They should engage in a responsible manner.

2. Hard Eight

Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1996 classic features some of the biggest names in Hollywood: Philip Baker Hall, Gwyneth Paltrow, Samuel L Jackson, and John Reilly are just a few members of the star-studded cast. This great casino movie revolves around Sydney Brown, a veteran casino-goer, whose gambling is part of narrative that also involves lust, deception and murder.

3. Uncut Gems

Some casino movies are meant to entertain while others ignite deep thoughts about the subject. As we know, engagement in gambling has both a brighter and no-so-good side. Uncut Gems was released four years ago but remains top of mind for most people who’ve seen it as an incredible but extremely stressful watch, wherein Adam Sandler exemplifies the dangers of excessive gambling.

4. Owning Mahowny

This Canadian film is based on a true story that involves gambling addiction, and stars Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Maury Chaykin and John Hurt. It tells a story of a bank employee in Toronto who stole $10-million for gambling purposes. The movie is one the best films of 2003 according to Roger Ebert. Other awards that this gambling movie has achieved over the years include best motion picture, Best Screenplay and Best Achievement in Original Score.

5. Ocean’s Eleven

Some film sites do not list Ocean’s Eleven as a gambling movie, but when a film is set in Las Vegas, features action in three casinos (and features casino games such as slot machines and poker), it should definitely count. Note that the 2001 remake is far superior to the 1960 Rat Pack original.

6. Croupier

The 1998 film Croupier features Clive Owen as a struggling writer who takes a job manning roulette tables in a casino, where he meets a glamorous love interest who’s planning a heist. The film impressed critics and audiences enough to kick off Owen’s career in Hollywood.

7. Maverick

The Oscar-nominated 1994 gambling comedy about a poker tournament, starring Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster, wasn’t honored by the Academy Awards for nothing.

8. Casino

Widely regarded as one of Martin Scorsese’s best films, Casino is also one of the all-time classic gambling movies to come out of Hollywood. The 1995 film stars Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone in a story about how the mafia operated in Las Vegas in the 1970s and 1980s.

9. Vegas Vacation

Casinos and gambling are a significant part of this Nation Lampoon franchise film, especially in a scene where Chevy Chase patronizes a discount casino and engages in a guessing game. For those who may not be familiar with terms such as house edge, it’s featured in Vegas Vacation when the dealer mentions number 7 — one of the ways that casinos stack the decks against players.

10. Cincinnati Kid

This movie is usually described as a thriller but its disclaimer to gamblers — a warning to be ready for some rough moments — makes it clear that this is also a film about the pitfalls of gambling. The feeling that one gets after a series of losses at a poker table is well depicted in the movie.

11. Casino Royale

Mention any Bond movie and terms such as thrilling and edgy are among the adjectives that come up right away. Casino Royale, the first film to feature Daniel Craig as James Bond, features casino games where the main actor gets to head to head with deadly villains.

12. The Gambler

This is another classic casino movie that needs little introduction. Some say that this film is based on a true story where James Toback is reflecting on his gambling antics. Watching this movie while in good company is one gamble that pays handsomely in terms of excitement and fun.

13. Rain Man

Blackjack and poker are featured prominently in this 1988 film, which won the Oscar for Best Picture as well as Academy Awards for directing, writing and acting, the latter for Dustin Hoffman.

14. Molly’s Game

When talking about the best casino movies, this is a must-watch film, released in 2017. The show-stopping thriller by Aaron Sorkin will leave you on the edge of your seat as you follow the intrigues of Jessica Chastain.

15. The Big Sleep

From the Golden Age of Hollywood, this 1946 film noir by Howard Hawks isn’t primarily remembered as a “movie about gambling,” but the casino scenes speak for themselves. Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall star in this all-time classic.

16. Mississippi Grind

Closing our list of the 16 best gambling films is the 2015 film Mississippi Grind, an excellent film about gambling (with plenty of casino action) starring Ryan Reynolds and Ben Mendelsohn.

If you’re looking for gambling-themed movies, you are clearly spoiled for choice as we have not even scratched the surface. But this is a good start.