4 Surprising Casino Facts Found in Famous Movies

The movies offer wonderful food for thought and huge doses of much-needed escapism. However, some of the realities they claim to depict are heightened or straight up glossed over for the benefit of entertainment. Of course, you knew that. But, as a casino aficionado, you perhaps did not realize the extent to which the beloved games are twisted for the storyline to work. Here are a few correctives to common misconceptions about casinos and gambling promulgated by cinema.

Violence is Exaggerated

Famed films from the 1990s such as Casino proclaim that you will most assuredly get beaten up by thugs if you win too much money, or rock the boat a great deal. While films like Casino are loosely based on true events, the terrible story reflects the absolute worst-case scenario. Walking into a casino doesn’t necessarily mean you will be walking into a cesspool of sex and violence. 

The Games Are About Strategy

The people handling poker or pontoon games in films usually look ridiculous: thuggish, showy, and seem to know very little about the game itself. In reality, everything about gambling is about strategy and having a handle on the rules and arithmetic. It is not just about dumb luck – although that can have a hand at times. Most people are familiar with the games and assess poker or study pontoon rules closely to be able to win. Hardly anyone wants to start off their night at a casino by wasting their precious dollars right off the bat on something they don’t understand. 

Casinos Aren’t Owned by the Mafia

A widely promulgated myth by cinema is that all casinos are mere fronts for a massive money-laundering scheme, prostitution ring, or some other form of organized crime. Yes, some Las Vegas casinos have indeed had ties with the mob in the past, but what we see on film is something else entirely. The vast majority of casinos are owned by Native American communities in this country, and they are highly regulated and extremely safe. In fact, profits from these casinos are used to funnel money back into their local communities through the funding of much needed social and educational programs. So, don’t buy the mafia hype. 

It’s Raining Money

So many films make it seem as though once you hit your stride in a game, or luck seems to be on your side, that it will be raining thousands and thousands of dollars on your head in minutes. Or, those who work as counters seem to be making more in an hour than what most of us earn in a year. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Most card counters make minimum wage, and they rarely do enough to bankroll tens of thousands of dollars in an evening. And, geniuses hoping to crack the code while playing poker don’t make that much either. This idea makes for a great scene in a film, but they don’t necessarily translate to real life. 

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While films like Ocean’s 11 are excellent for their entertainment value and witty dialogue, they don’t necessarily have much to do with what happens on the ground in a casino. A lot more prep goes into actually playing the games, and the home of slot machines and blackjack are rarely the scary caves they seem to be on the big screen.