Things Movies Get Wrong About Gambling

You may dream of being at a casino no matter what you watch— it can be watching some thrilling James Bond movies like Casino Royale or some entertaining episodes on TV or streaming.

As the casino industry always looks so fascinating and charming, we often dream about going there wearing fashionable clothes and earning millions.

Like most other things, casinos have their own tropes in Hollywood and beyond – and like in the case of most tropes, these have little to do with the truth. Off the silver screen, things rarely happen the way they do in movies. Otherwise, how would you start your casino journey by playing online pokies in Australia or exciting table games over the internet?

Let’s take a look at some movie tropes about casinos that have nothing to do with them in the real life.

Shady casino owners

Hollywood movies often depict the people running the casinos as shady individuals with ties to organized crime. Think of movies ranging from Sam “Ace” Rothstein from Scorsese’s classic “Casino” to Terry Benedict in “Ocean’s Eleven” (who was not necessarily shady… but he was not the most lovable individual either).

Certainly, there’s a bit of truth to this Hollywood trope, considering that there’s a massive illegal gambling “industry” in the US and it certainly has ties to various gangs. But casinos today are strictly regulated businesses and… considering their business model, they simply don’t need to get involved in shady things to make a living – the casinos themselves are generating more than enough revenue.

Goons telling you to “be less lucky” or else…

With shady owners come shady practices… like massive goons showing up behind the player winning a lot to offer them “insurance”… against broken bones if they continue to win. This is another major Hollywood trope that isn’t inspired by real life.

Of course, casinos do have security personnel but their job is not to harass customers that win big but to spot those winning big by cheating. Which is, after all, understandable: casinos are not charities giving out money, they are businesses that mustn’t tolerate theft and cheating. They do, in turn, frown upon card counting (which is not illegal, by the way), and will try to prevent it by any means necessary… like in the movie “21”, inspired by the real-life story of the MIT Blackjack Team.

Big wins don’t happen that often

The “common folk” – the average casino players – hardly ever break the bank. This is not some conspiracy but the very nature of gambling: the casino always wins (see the remark above about charities). Many people win smaller amounts pretty frequently, and sometimes these amounts can be relatively big, but that’s about it.

For truly big wins, we have to take a look at the “whales”, also known as “high-rollers”. These players are not only passionate about gambling but they also have the budgets to do it for really big stakes, like the protagonist of 2014’s “The Player: Secrets of a Vegas Whale”. These people are the ones spending thousands, hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions on a single round. And they sometimes leave with millions more – or empty-handed.

Big wins, like jackpot hits on slot machines or breaking the bank at the roulette table, are the exception, not the rule.

… and there’s no such thing as a “cooler”

Finally, here is one thing that’s completely made up about casinos: there’s no such thing as a “cooler”, someone who will break a player’s winning streak simply by being there.

Gambling is all about probability – luck, if you like. Casino games are required by law to be completely random – in other words, fair. No person, no ritual, nothing of the like can influence the outcome of a round, and certainly not Bernie Lootz, played by William H. Macy in “The Cooler”.

In casinos, only probabilities have a word to say. Of course, this doesn’t stop superstition from running rampant in an environment built entirely around luck.

Written by Charlotte Lee

After obtaining her degree in gaming and casino management, Charlotte began her career working as a writer in the same area as she studied. Eight years later and Charlotte is one of the top journalists in her field, compiling reports on the latest industry news while reviewing the best and latest casino games. She is also renowned for her poker play and has won several tournaments, either online, in the poker room or with friends. She is one of the lead writers here at Top Australian Gambling and has written over 20+ casino reviews. In her free time, she let’s her creative juices flow and spends time painting and reading.