Movies have long held a fascination amongst people because they present larger-than-life characters and stories. Yet, movies also take a lot of inspiration from true events and this is especially true for the casino and gambling themed movies. Over the years, there have been some brilliant movies in this genre. Even if they are not entirely true, some portions of them are based on true events. Here are some of the top casino and gambling themed movies released in the last few decades. Playing on websites such as is a good way to refresh yourself, but reading about casino movies is also inspiring.

Casino (1995)

Directed by Martin Scorsese, this film depicts Las Vegas mobsters who have different ways of going about their business. The film was extensively shot in a real casino, and several aspects of the movie like day-to-day running and the problems encountered in a casino are actually true. The film features one of the best performances from Robert De Niro, while Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci also have crucial roles.

De Niro’s character, Sam “Ace” Rothstein, is based on Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal’s time in Las Vegas. It was Rosenthal who gave the thumbs up to the film’s accuracy in depicting of the various events that took place during the 1960s and 70s. At the peak of his powers, Rosenthal was in charge of four casinos, not the mobile ones like those found at, but casinos in Las Vegas. He brought through several inventions that doubled the revenues of the casinos in less than a couple of years. He also survived several unsuccessful assassination attempts before passing away in Florida back in 2008. His wife, Geri McGee, played by Sharon Stone, was accurately depicted including her problems with drugs.

21 (2008)


This movie follows a band of MIT students, who are headed by their professor, as they try to make money from Las Vegas casinos by counting cards. Even though large sections of the movie are fiction, the main plot is based on true events. There were MIT students who were involved in card counting at Las Vegas casinos. In order to enhance the movie, several aspects of the true events were changed. Those MIT students were counting cards during the 1990s when Las Vegas casinos were still not yet at peak levels of preventing malpractice.

The movie shows a group of six students, but the true events involved a much larger group. They also did not come up with a high amount of stake and ended up winning far less than depicted in the movie. The movie also depicted a picture of card counting being a foolproof way to success. This may not be the case since the edge for a player counting cards is only minimal. There is even the possibility of losses.

Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

A star cast featuring George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and many more try to rob three Las Vegas casinos at the same time. Over the years, many have tried to rob casinos and have achieved varying degrees of success. Even though there is an element of truth about Ocean’s Eleven in that the security at a Las Vegas casino is truly of epic proportions, it does turn into fiction in terms of the amount of money being stolen.

The biggest ever heist at a casino has taken place at Crown Casino in 2013. Located in Perth, Australia, this casino was swindled of $32 million by in-house people rather than a team as suggested by Ocean’s Eleven. Furthermore, the money was recovered rather quickly as the thieves did not get far.

Ocean’s Eleven, though, may have been an inspiration for other heists. There was a failed attempt to rob Soboba Casino in 2007 in a similar fashion to the movie. Yet, even they could only manage $1.5 million before being arrested a few days later.


Rounders (1998)

Even though the plot of the movie is not a true story, the way the movie depicted various avenues like the card rooms and exclusive clubs was real. The movie also came at a time when most viewers were not aware of the poker lingo, and the subtle use of it made it a cult classic.

Movies have often used real life incidents as their major inspiration. Even though some changes had to be made in order to improve the entertainment value, there is little doubt that the core concept comes from true incidents. These casino themed movies have also shown the viewer from various angles what it is like to be a player, a casino owner, a security guard, or even a thief looking to rob a casino.