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Best Casino Scenes in Movies

April 3, 2024

We love casino-based movies for all the reasons you would imagine. The glamour, the excitement and the all-you-can-eat buffet, well, maybe not the last one, but definitely the glamour. Our favourite casino movie is Casino; this aptly named 1995 classic wins hands down in the best casino movie scene stakes, not for the reason you would imagine. No one has made a movie called Online Casino yet, though… 

Casino 1995 Has the Best Casino Movie Scenes by Far

To really understand our reasoning, we have to give you some background. 1995 was a hot year for movies, plus a spree in Vegas in 1995 influenced our taste for casino life – back to ‘Casino’. The movie follows the gorgeous Ginger Mckenna and Sam ’Ace’ Rothstein, a gambling expert handicapper who is asked by the Chicago mob to oversee the day-to-day casino and hotel operations (while skimming cash) at the legendary Tangiers Casino in Vegas. 

The plot is relatively simple and packed with thrilling scenes and characters. One of which is Nicky Santoro, a mob enforcer and Sam’s protector; who spends more time breaking the furniture than playing minder, and causes Sam loads of grief. 

The FBI are hot on the mob’s trail, and the mob is gunning for Sam. It’s a classic cross and double cross situation that sees Artie Piscano (A Chicago underground boss) oversee the entire operation from his grocery store – what could go wrong?

History will tell us that skimming the skimmer never works; Piscano deals the ultimate blow by keeping detailed written records of the operation, which is a big no-no. The final scene is brilliant – The FBI places a bug in Piscano’s grocery store and catches him giving the details about the skim, prompting a full investigation into the Tangiers Casino and a massive FBI sting.

By the end of the story, only Sam survives to tell the tale, but you can be sure it’s a good one – based on a true-ish story by Nicholas Pileggi’s book Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas. If you’re a fan of action movies, fashion and big hair, this one’s for you.

You can’t talk about the best movies that feature scenes in casinos without mentioning the Ocean films; while most might go for Ocean’s Eleven, we will always pick Ocean’s Eight.

Ocean’s Eight 

What’s not to like? Ocean’s Eight has a cast of talented and beautiful actors. If you’ve seen this film, you will know who steals the show. Written by the dream team of Ross and Olivia Milch, it’s an Ocean’s movie with class and style sprinkled with funny one-liners.

While this film is a heist movie just like the others, Ocean’s Eight is set in a museum, and the target is a magnificent diamond Cartier necklace. The action sequences that take place in casinos are right at the beginning of the movie and right at the end. 

It’s a movie with class and humour, the perfect underrated combination that shows casino life the way it should be shown: cocktails and chandeliers all the way.

Rounders

The storyline is about two friends who need to win rounds of high-stakes poker to pay off a large debt fast. ‘Rounders’ was directed by John Dahl and featured a star studded line up. The term ‘rounders’ refers to the tactic of travelling around looking for high-stakes gambling opportunities.

The movie revolves around poker and features iconic places in New York City, while the casino scenes are all filmed in Atlantic City. The writer of this film is David Levien, who co-wrote the screenplay with Brian Koppelman. The scene that says it all for me is when Mike challenges Teddy to a second heads-up no-limit Texas hold ’em for the outstanding debt, with a winner-takes-all scenario, which he accepts.

Maverick 

This film follows Bret Maverick, a card shark who teams up with a wealthy gambler to seek revenge on the men who tried to kill them. Maverick has a who’s who list of actors starring in it and is a must watch movie.

This film is about revenge and gambling, but anything with acting talent like this in means you’re served a hefty batch of style and class. The film is set in the Wild West and gambling takes place on an old steamboat called the Lauren Belle. Boats like this were common in the early 19th century, with this one decorated to resemble a Mississippi-style gambling boat and all the casino scenes filmed on the river.

Maverick won 2 Oscars, including Best Original Song for ‘The Shadow of Your Smile.’ The best casino scene, undoubtedly, was when Maverick  poses as an agent from the Bureau of Indian Affairs investigating gambling, conning the Archduke out of $6,000 to cover his and Bransford’s entry.

We can’t talk about films with classic casino scenes without mentioning Casino Royale, not the remake in 2006 but the original made in 1967 starring many actors who are no longer with us.

Casino Royale 1967

The first James Bond movie, Casino Royale, is a comedy spoof of the famous novel of the same name. Agent 007 is sent to investigate the activities of a secret organisation known as SMERSH, a Russian counter-intelligence agency set to defeat Le Chiffre in a baccarat game to save the world from destruction. My movie, the 1967 version, featured a fantastic acting line up and it was directed by Val Guest.

This early Bond movie features gambling, and as Ian Fleming was a roulette fan in his personal life, there are always casino scenes in all the subsequent Bond movies. The film is iconic, and with so many casino scenes to choose from, the well-known bleeding eye scene will always spring to mind. However, the scene does not feature in the 1967 version; instead, Bond defeats Le Chiffe with pure card skills.

The film was made in the UK at Pinewood Studios, Shepperton Studios and Twickenham Studios in London. The casino scenes were filmed in London, not in the Casino Royale in Montenegro, as the film suggests.

So there you have it – no spoilers, but some new takes on the best movies that feature great casinos and scenes in casinos that have become legendary.