Two films with different takes on casino life


It’s not surprising that casino scenes feature so often in movies. Even when the casino isn’t the main focus of the film, it often provides a perfect backdrop for the characters to dialogue in front of – especially when the director wants to portray ideas of luxury, opulence and self-indulgence. Yet, it can be used to show the dark side of casino life too.

For some great examples of great movie casino scenes, check out the list of casino films here, compiled by; the online casino and gaming site.  Playing casino online gives you the thrill of the games, without having to make the trip to a land-based casino. If you watch the two films described below, one would make you want to go to a land-based casino for the glitz and glamour of it all, the other would make you want to give casinos a wide berth and stay home.


Many would see Martin Scorsese’s Casino as an absolute classic casino movie. It’s a heady mix of the different sides of life in the casino industry. You get the flavour of the opulence and glamour of the gaming rooms, but you also get to see a seedy underside of the lives of the people involved in the casino. Casino was released in 1995 and stars Robert de Niro, Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci. The film runs for 178 minutes and many of those minutes are disturbing ones.

It’s based on the life of real-life casino manager Frank Rosenthal, who ran three casinos in Vegas for the Chicago Outfit in the seventies and eighties. The lead character, Ace Rothstein, is played by Robert de Niro, with Stone playing his girlfriend (and later, his wife) Ginger, while Pesci plays the part of mob enforcer, Nicky Santoro.

Ace is running a fictional casino for the Chicago mob and Santoro is there to make sure the profits don’t get creamed off by local Vegas gangsters. He does this with plenty of violence, and plenty of enthusiasm for that violence. A lot of the story focuses on the volatile relationship between Ginger, a former drug addict and prostitute, and Ace.

This was the eighth movie that Scorsese and de Niro worked on together and it was a huge success. Although you’re glued to the action, at the end of it, you’re glad to be able to walk away from it!

Ocean’s 11

At the other end of the movie spectrum, Ocean’s 11 is another take on Vegas. This 2001 remake of a 1960 film starring the Ratpack, is a casino heist movie with plenty of comedy in it. The lead character, Danny Ocean, is played by George Clooney and, at the start of the film, Ocean has just been freed from prison. He’s quick off the mark to get his old crew together to help him carry out a daring heist on his ex-wife’s new partner’s casinos.

The plan is that they will rip off three casinos simultaneously – and those used in the film are the Mirage, the MGM Grand and the Bellagio. Director Steven Soderbergh added authenticity by shooting many of the sequences in the real casinos.

Ocean’s focus is blurred by the fact that he’s still in love with his ex-wife, Tess, who’s played by Julia Roberts. The new man in her life is Terry Benedict, played by Andy Garcia. Brad Pitt also stars, as Ocean’s second in command, Rusty Ryan. There are many other famous faces in the cast including Matt Damon, Miguel Pérez, Bernie Mac and Carl Reiner. The movie drips with luxury and glamour and just makes you want to go and visit all these casinos for real. It also features a clever plot twist at the end, which brings the story to a climax without any need for the usual end to a heist movie – a big shootout.

Ocean’s 11 and Casino are two great casino movies but you probably couldn’t imagine two more opposite scripts.


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