popular casino movies as reviewed by Grande Vegas

Many of Hollywood’s best and most popular movies have played out against the backdrop of casinos. Gambling settings are glamorous and create a captivating atmosphere that increases the adrenaline and engages the imagination.

Some films build their storylines around casinos while others have casinos in the background but movies with casino action have proven successful at drawing diverse audiences in to the plot.

Take a break from your Vegas Online Casino games and check out recent and golden oldie casino-themed movies of the last 50 years.

The Sting

This year is the 50th anniversary of the release of the Oscar-winning The Sting which paired up legendary actors Robert Redford and Paul Newman in a tale of deception and revenge.

After Redford’s friend is killed by a mobster, he is taken under the wing by the older and more seasoned Newman who works with him to plan out a Sting that will pay back the mobster in a way that the mobster and his police cronies will never know that they’ve been taken.

The pair, with the help of friends, organize an elaborate con where the mobster believes that he is betting on a rigged race. The race is completely fake and the sting gang walks away with enough cash to keep them living well for the rest of their lives.

The film won 7 Oscars, including Best Picture, and is forever a timeless classic in casino movie history.


The 2008 movie 21 is based on a book published in 2003, Bringing Down the House which tells the story of a group of Ivy League students who turned card counting into a lucrative Vegas hustle.

Over the course of a decade, a revolving group of students played blackjack at a number of Vegas casinos where they beat the system and walked away with millions of dollars in winnings.

Their efforts were mentored and organized by a former MIT professor who had developed a system of body signals, verbal cues and role-playing as they used disguises, aliases and ingenuity to score wins based on their ability to figure out which cards in a blackjack deck had already been played, which ones were yet to be dealt and how their understanding of statistics could put that knowledge to work.


The 1995 Casino, directed by Martin Scorsese, explores the dark underbelly of Las Vegas casino life. Robert De Niro plays Sam "Ace" Rothstein, a professional gambler and casino operator, who keeps the violent and unpredictable Joe Pesci as Nicky Santoro at his side.

The storyline is based on the life of Frank Rosenthal (“Lefty”) who ran the Fremont, Stardust and Hacienda casinos for the Chicago Outfit in the 1970s. It depicts the casino operations, the involvement of the Mafia and the changes in the Vegas casino landscape over the years.

Ocean’s 11

Led by George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Julia Roberts, the 2001 Ocean's Eleven is a heist movie like no other. The storyline revolves around Danny Ocean who meticulously plans a simultaneous robbery of three Las Vegas casinos simultaneously.

Each of the 11 co-conspirators has his or her own specialty – a casino security expert, an explosives expert, a former croupier, an auto specialist, an acrobat, a pickpocket, con men, etc. The elaborate scam nets the gang millions and they not only get away with their money but make sure that their main target, the casino’s owner, knows it.


Matt Damon plays a talented poker player who engages in a game of high-stakes poker to help a friend pay off his debts in an underground game. The film is as much about the seamy life of underground poker as it is about the game itself…..the characters, the tension, the involvement of the underworld and the way that these games destroy relationships.

Casino Royale

From the 1960s’ Dr. No and From Russia With Love through the James Bond movies of the ensuing decades, one thing could almost always be counted on – James Bond would be spending time in a casino.

Oftentimes the casinos were the setting for a good part of the action in the 25 James Bond movies while at other times they were just a backdrop for meetings, socializing and other activities that weren’t important to the plots.

From meeting the first Bond girl that he was to marry in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in a casino to action in casino-hotel Whyte House in Diamonds are Forever, the golden bullets collected in the casino in Man with the Golden Gun and more, casinos have always been front and center in Bond films.

In the 2008 Casino Royale, the casino became the focus of activity as Bond tried to prevent terrorist financier Le Chiffre from advancing his ambitions. To do so, Bond is forced to enter a high-stakes poker game at the Casino Royale where he aims to prevent Le Chiffre from obtaining the cash that he needs to finance terror attacks.

Movies that feature casinos tend to be thrilling and captivating. The opportunities for varied plotlines are endless with high-stakes poker games, daring heists, intense gambling scenes and more. There are dramas, suspense and even, as in the case of The Sting, opportunities for some humor. These films offer exciting journeys into the heart of casinos and the characters that inhabit them.


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