Top Casino Movies of All Time

For decades now Hollywood has cast the country’s most lavish casinos as a character or backdrop in films. Whether the audience sees some of the most intense conflicts unravel or has the opportunity to admire the details that adorn these luxurious gambling palaces, there is an obvious intrigue to these films. Tinsel Town aims to please, so casino productions continue to be rolled out.

If you’re new to the casino genre, or just looking for some suggestions, check out three of the best casino movies of all time.


This 1995 classic was directed by Martin Scorsese and gives the audience a glimpse into the network of a corrupt Las Vegas casino. Ace Rothstein (Robert De Niro) is the Tangiers Casino’s manager and oversees the daily operations. Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) is his best friend and Mafia minion who ends up betraying Ace. Ginger McKenna (Sharon Stone) is a former prostitute and Ace’s wife whose scruples are non-existent.

Together they rise to the top of their game with excess money, power, and drugs. When greed enters the picture, the FBI and mob bosses are able to dissect the trio’s loyalty and trigger their downward spiral. The film was shot at the iconic Riviera casino which has since been leveled and won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture.

This is the kind of movie that has you pulling out your tablet to play online slots at or booking a flight directly to Las Vegas to sit at the tables. Either way, this is a class that will have you watching for years to come.

The Cooler

This 2003 romantic drama directed by Wayne Kramer is set in; you guessed it, Las Vegas. The film tells the story of Bernie Lootz (William H. Macy), a down-and-out cooler who just can’t get a break. In the land of gambling, a cooler is a casino employee who brings bad luck to players. Bernie lives in a motel, hasn’t had companionship in years, and is up to his ears in debt to Shangri-La casino boss, Shelly Kaplow (Alec Baldwin). Things begin to turn around for Bernie when the cocktail waitress, Natalie Belisario (Maria Bello), begins to fall for him. Unbeknownst to the cooler, Shelly has paid Natalie to seduce Bernie into being a work mule among other things for the casino.

The lines begin to get blurred, however, when Natalie starts to develop a real feeling for Bernie and Shelly’s plan goes haywire. Baldwin and Bellow were both nominated for Golden Globes. Baldwin also got a nomination to shout out at the Academy Awards.

Casino Royale

How could we create a list of all-time casino movies without 007? James Bond is the quintessential gambling man. Between his daring action sequences to high roller casino scenes, he is the gambling man. The film was released in 2006 with Martin Campbell directing and Daniel Craig as the leading man (007). This is one of the most successful bond series films ever made grossing over $600 million.

The film shows Bond as a rookie agent fresh off his first two kills on the job. He’s on the scene in Madagascar watching Mollaka who is a bomb-maker looking to cause destruction for his financial gain. The two end up at a high stake casino table looking to show who has the superior intellect and nerve. After Bond is poisoned and barely escaped with his life, he returns to win a hefty sum at the tables.

The Sting

Unlike most casino movies that take place in Vegas, this 1973 classic uses Chicago as a backdrop. Directed by George Roy Hill, “The Sting” tells the story of a young conman and gambling addict, Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford), out to avenge his friend’s death at all costs. He teams up with a master conman, Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman), to pull off the ultimate con on the criminal banker he deems to be responsible for the murder. The conmen are so good at being bad you’ll find yourselves rooting for them. The film received 11 awards – the Academy Awards nod for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Writing are just a few.

From films that feature organized crime to emerging trends like female poker players, a casino as a backdrop is always a crowd-pleaser.

While these are three of the best casino flicks ever made, they certainly aren’t the only ones. What are your favorite casino-themed films?