In the 113 years since the first movie theater was opened in Pittsburgh, the movie industry has developed many popular genres. Films based around superheroes, science fiction, horror, and comedy, have thrilled millions of moviegoers for decades, but few genres have proven to be as enduringly popular as the casino-themed film.
The influence of the casino on film goes all the way back to the beginning of cinema, but the origin of the modern casino movie is probably in 1965, which saw one of the most famous casino movies hitting the big screen. That was The Cincinnati Kid, starring the biggest Hollywood name of the time, Steve McQueen, as a character mixed up in a high-stakes poker game. At that time, while gambling was legal in Nevada, casino and poker gambling retained an air of mystique, glamour, and excitement for many Americans.
As a result, some of the most prominent film directors in the business have tried their hand at the casino genre. Several Bond movies have had a casino theme, including Casino Royale, Dr No, and GoldenEye, but the next notable milestone in the genre was Casino by Martin Scorsese. This critically-acclaimed 1995 movie starred Robert De Niro as a Chicago bookmaker who took over a Las Vegas casino. Also starring Joe Pesci, James Woods, and Sharon Stone, Casino went on to Golden Globe and Oscar nominations. Sharon Stone received the best actress Golden Globe for her performance in the movie.
The success of Casino inspired a raft of casino-themed movies including Very Bad Things, Hard Eight, Leaving Las Vegas, and the British film Croupier, which starred Clive Owen as a casino croupier who was inspired to write a book based on life in a casino. The film was a triumph for its director Mike Hodges and brought Owen to the attention of US audiences.
The biggest casino film of them all was the 2001 remake of the 1960s classic Ocean’s Eleven. This version starred Brad Pitt, George Clooney and a host of big name stars in a plot that revolved around robbing three major Las Vegas casinos. The film was such a success that it spawned three sequels: Ocean’s Twelve, Ocean’s Thirteen, and Ocean’s Eight, demonstrating that the public’s appetite for casino movies is as healthy as ever.
That is hardly surprising, given the enduring popularity of casinos and the pastime of gambling. There is evidence that gambling has been a part of human civilization since the 2nd century BC when the game of Keno is believed to have originated in China.
The history of gambling has been the story of ingenious individuals, such as the mathematician Blaise Pascal, who is reputed to have invented the roulette wheel, and Charles Fey, who built the world’s first slot machine in 1895, and the casino itself has a long history. The word ‘casino’ translates as ‘small villa’ or ‘summer house’ from the Italian, as the first casino was built in Venice in 1638. Formerly known as a pleasure house, the casino soon evolved to be an establishment exclusively focused on gaming.
Fast forward to the 21st century, and casino gaming has been given an additional boost by the surge of online gaming. Casino operators were not slow to spot the potential for the gaming industry in the development of the internet, but it wasn’t until 1996 that the first online casino was opened. By the turn of the century, there was a booming online casino industry, which grew even faster as new technology such as high-speed broadband and mobile device capability opened up the possibility of ever more flexible and dynamic online play.
The online casino industry accounts for a considerable slice of the online gambling market revenue, which was estimated at USD 44.16 billion in 2016 and that is set to top USD 80 billion by 2022. This explosion in online gambling has led to the creation of thousands of casino sites, but not all of them are legitimate, which is why online casino players tend to stick to the reputable sites, which also are more likely to provide a pleasurable playing experience.
The highly regarded 888casino is an example of an online casino site that caters to the modern gamer by offering a wide array of the latest online casino games. The average casino player, whether they are enjoying roulette online or playing the slots at their favorite Vegas venue, know that statistically, it is unlikely they will profit in the long-term. Casino gaming is all about the anticipation and the fun of the play.
Not all casino games come into this category of course. Blackjack and in particular, poker, require a high level of skill to play well. Although it is possible to work out the precise odds of getting a particular hand in poker (for example, your chance of landing a Royal Flush is precisely 649,739-1!), there is a psychological human element to the game, and the best poker players manipulate that to their advantage.
But most popular casino games are a question of luck. They play on our enduring fascination with games of chance that go all the way back to the dice gambling of the Romans and the evolution of card games in China in the ninth century.
It is this fascination that explains why Hollywood has drawn inspiration from land-based and online casino gaming from the earliest black and white movies through to such classics as the Cincinnati Kid and the Oceans Eleven series, and why so many movies have sought a touch of glamour and excitement by involving a casino element. It also explains why the classic casino movie retains such a hold on the public and why we are likely to see many more takes on the casino-themed escapades in years to come. Anders Lee Jersey