Top 5 Movies about Casinos

Casinos have a central place in popular entertainment culture. Think of major league pop culture icons like Frank Sinatra and the next thing that comes to mind is usually the casinos of Las Vegas.

Another reason why casino gambling looms so large within the cultural landscape is that it has featured in so many movies. It is not difficult to grasp the attraction for filmmakers – the element of risk involved is a great way of creating drama and tension. Casinos combine that with luxury and glamour, which makes for the ideal cinematic blend. 

Of course, in the current era, more people are playing at casinos on the internet. This has many advantages, such as the impressive bonuses they offer and here’s some you can try online.

It does not lend itself to the silver screen to quite the same degree though, which is why films mainly focus on land-based gambling. This article will take a look at the best movies to feature casinos.


No list of the top casino movies can possibly exclude this one. It was directed by a man considered one of the greatest of all time, Martin Scorsese, and also features one of the world’s finest actors in Robert De Niro.

Released in 1995, it tells the tale of the fictional Tangiers Casino in Las Vegas and the man sent there by the Mob to run it. It is adapted from a true story and De Niro plays Sam Rothstein, who the Mafia employs to manage the casino and skim the profits for them.

The interesting thing is that it does not feature much in the way of actual gambling. The drama comes from interpersonal conflicts and the ever-present threat of violence courtesy of enforcer Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci).

It is about the contrast between the outward glitz of Vegas and its opulent casinos and the darkness underneath. If many casino movies depict people you might actually meet, this film features the sort of characters you have to hope that you will never encounter.

The Card Counter

This is a much more recent movie – from 2021 – showing that casinos remain popular with filmmakers. It stars Oscar Isaac as a man who used to interrogate people for the US military but now makes money at casinos by counting the cards in poker games.

There is a lot more gambling involved in this movie and it serves as a metaphor for the gamble the main character must take to redeem himself. The casino scenes ramp up the tension and add some shadowy glamour as a backdrop to the action.


Another film where casino gambling could be viewed as a metaphor for the behavior of its lead character is the 1991 movie Bugsy. It tells the true story of Bugsy Siegel, the man who had the idea for the first luxury Las Vegas casino.

Siegel borrows millions in cash from the Mafia to finance the construction of the Flamingo and the costs go wildly over budget. He risks everything on the belief that it will recoup all of those losses and save him from Mob vengeance. 

In this film, the developing casino provides a glimpse into the future of the gambling industry and organized crime, making for another classic casino movie.


The 1998 thriller Croupier stars Clive Owen as a would-be writer who earns a living as a croupier in an exclusive London casino. It is unusual in examining the perspective of someone on the other side of the table, rather than the actual gamblers.

The lead character Jack Manfred despises those who gamble and sees himself as being in total control. His life goes off the rails though when he is persuaded by a female gambler to help her repay debts by robbing the casino. 

In a subplot, the film also depicts the way that Manfred becomes more obsessed with his job, suggesting he is not quite as different from the hapless gamblers as he thinks. Croupier is dark noir-style filmmaking and the casino setting adds both glamour and danger to the mix.

The Cooler

The last of our best casino films centers on Bernie Lootz, a man whose luck is so terrible that the Shangri-La Casino employs him as a ‘cooler’ – someone who can end the lucky streaks of others just by being around them. Things get more complicated for him when he falls for Natalie, a customer at the casino, and his luck starts to change.

We also discover that he is an ex-gambler who works as a cooler to pay off money owed. The movie explores the role of fortune in the lives of people, with the casino setting helping to emphasize that idea.

These movies each examine different aspects of the casino experience with real skill.