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WPGM Commentary: The Impact Of Gambling Movies On Culture

Hollywood has been fascinated by the gambling world for a long time. Gambling-related Hollywood movies quickly become popular and captivate the public almost without exception. Movies about gambling were pioneered in the period between 1908 and 1930. However, only six films were made during this time. The demand for this theme began rising after World War 2 and culminated in the 21st century.

What kind of an impact do gambling-related Hollywood movies have on culture and the gambling image? Do viewers think positively or negatively about this topic after watching such a movie? Generally speaking, do gambling movies facilitate gambling actions or do they condemn them?

Let’s answer these questions by considering some interesting facts about this popular genre.

Gambling Movies Form The Public Image

Apart from being a huge source of entertainment, Hollywood is also a powerful tool capable of shaping the public image. According to an infographic about gambling movies created by Casino Sites, most people aged 18-47 in China agree that most Hong Kong gambling-related movies predominantly show luxuriously decorated casinos and an opulent lifestyle.

On the other hand, the majority of those same respondents strongly agree that Hong Kong gambling movies realistically show the problem of gambling addiction.

Therefore, we can see that gambling movies are capable of showing two completely different images at the same time. They show us that the gambling world is full of luxury and wealth, but at the same time, they teach us that it is very difficult to escape this world when the situation becomes less than ideal.

Negative Images Portrayed In Gambling Movies

Even though many people are against the gambling theme being explored in Hollywood movies, the reality is that they show more negative than positive images.

If you watched a couple of such movies, you could notice a clear pattern: the antihero protagonist gets in a lot of trouble because of his unsustainable habit, puts his life in danger, gets associated with people from the underground, and makes life a misery for all the people around him. However, in the end, everything seems to work just fine.

These are some of the most common negative images from gambling movies.

Gambling Addiction

The main actors in most gambling movies usually struggle with gambling addiction. Even though their fondness of gambling has made their life a living hell, they are unable to stay away from it. Examples of this image can be seen in The Gambler and Owning Mahowny.

Gamblers As Losers

Gamblers in movies are rarely shown as reputable members of society who have life figured out and who you’d like to trade places with. Instead, they are usually individuals who do not have life sorted out and deal with problems on a daily basis. Examples are found in movies such as Mafia and Croupier.

Gamblers Are Cheaters

Movies often show gamblers as people who are dishonest, morally corrupt, and fond of cheating. Those are not the best traits a human can have. You can see these images in Shade and Lucky Numbers.

Organized Crime

In most gambling movies, the main character has to deal with a criminal organization that runs the game behind the curtains. The best examples are shown in Casino and The Godfather.

Criminal Tendencies

Apart from the ones mentioned, gamblers in gambling movies usually have other criminal tendencies. One of the dominant ones is stealing. Watch Ocean’s Eleven and Lady Killers, for example.

Positive Images Shown in Gambling Movies

We’ve shown you some of the most popular negative images that can be often seen in gambling movies, but there are some positive ones as well. After all, most gambling movies have a happy end.

However, the positive impact on the gambling image is much weaker than the negative one. Therefore, the final impression of ordinary people who know little about this world is often skewed and unrealistic.

Here are the most common ones.

Magical Skills of Gamblers

More often than not, gamblers are capable of escaping difficult situations by using their miraculous gambling skills that can rarely be explained. Therefore, they are shown as highly intelligent and capable individuals. Great examples are movies such as Rain Man and Rounders.

Miraculous Wins

As we have already mentioned, gambling movies rarely have a sad ending. The protagonist usually manages to solve all of their problems by the end of the movie. They beat all of their enemies, become rich, get their significant other back, and live a long and happy life. If you like such movies, check out Mafia and Croupier.


As you can see from the facts and examples that we have shared above, gambling movies definitely impact the gambling image. Depending on the movie that you watch, this impact is sometimes positive and sometimes negative. However, it is rarely realistic as most gamblers are just ordinary people from our surrounding that differ little or not at all from ourselves.

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