If you love gambling, then you probably, also prefer casino movies. Many of these films come with the undeniable thrill of crime, and humor is always sprinkled here and there. Casino movies bring together some of the best actors from all genres.
This list features different types of casino characters. There are male and female ones, gamblers and casino operators, and others are just flamboyant owners of gambling operations. In some movies, it is hard to determine the main character since a few of them seem to be playing key roles in the films. Nevertheless, in most of the movies covered below, the main heroes are easy to identify.
So, let’s look at some of the most memorable characters in casino movies:
Joe Pesci is known for his famous role as a Mafia associate in crime movies. In the classic film, he played the part of Nicky Santoro. The film was loosely based on a true story, and it was noted that a few names in the movie matched people who participated in the early casino scene of Las Vegas.
Although gambling was legal in the city, Nicky (Joe Pesci) still treats it as a criminal venture steals from the casinos. He is sent by the Chicago mob to oversee their casinos in Las Vegas and does not legally play a role in the running of the casinos. Nicky single-handedly increases crime in Las Vegas in direct contradiction to the rules of the Mafia, which wanted to keep the place peaceful and appealing to tourists. Although he still has his macho look and is a lot smarter than many other characters in the film, he still ends up getting killed with baseball bats. With his love for violence and extremely witty methods of escaping the law, he stands out as one of the best actors in casino movies of all time.
Nick Moran can take the role of the main character in “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels.” In this film, he plays the part of Eddie and is de facto leader of his group. As noted in The Gamblers Daily Digest, this movie revolves around the premise of Eddie trying to beat a porn merchant and crime boss named Harry in the game of 3-card brag.
By the end of the game, Eddie and his three friends have lost the game and have to settle a six-figure gambling debt. One option here is for Harry to assume ownership of a bar belonging to Eddie’s dad, and the other is for the quartet to steal money from some drug dealers. Eddie chooses to steal the money indirectly by waiting for another group to rob the drug dealers first. He would then rob the thieves. Eddie has some of the best dialogues in the film. He is full of wit and manly posturing. The film is also quite funny and is light on violence.
James Caan starred in the film “The Gambler.” Here he plays the role of Axel Freed, a university professor who has a crippling gambling problem. His issue grows worse and worse as the film proceeds, and at the end of it all, he loses all his money. Axel ends up borrowing money from his girlfriend and mother while still gambling it all away. Roger Eber notes that Exel’s disbelief that someone could draw so many lousy poker hands is what lands him $44,000 in debt. Even with the huge debt, he still has a compulsion to risk money in the casino.
In the film, Exel himself confesses that he does not bet on games that he knows well since that would not give him the thrill of risking the loss of money. The New York Times even stated that he liked the uncertainty more than he liked winning.
Since he is placing his bets with the Mafia, he ends up with more than just debt on his hands. His life is at risk. At one point, he is locked in a basement and is waiting to meet a Mafia boss who is ready to cut off his legs.
James Caan is very convincing and original in this film. He can portray the image of a person who seems to be reasonable in society but has extremely antisocial behavior. He does not seem to derive from famous casino movies and does not even give hints of his roles in other movies.
Mike Tan from OnlineCasinoGems.com states, “The online casinos and slots industries are worth billions of dollars.” Molly Bloom took these words seriously when she gave up on her Olympic career and started a high-end gambling operation that brought in millions of dollars every year.
In the movie “Molly’s Game,” Bloom’s character is played by Jessica Chastain. The movie was released in 2018 and earned Jessica Chastain her fifth nomination for the Golden Globe Award. Variety even praised the movie for making maximum use of Chastain’s character.
Molly is an intelligent woman who can maneuver a male-dominated world of traditional casinos and rises to become the target of criminal and government bodies. Her clientele is made up of celebrities and well-known public figures.
She does not realize that she also hosts members of the Russian mob, and this will end up attracting the attention of the FBI. At the end of the film, she is charged with running an illegal gambling business. However, she receives a rather light penalty of community service and 1-year probation.
Our image of Las Vegas and gambling, in general, is heavily influenced by movies and TV shows. We love seeing the glamorous casinos and well-dressed attendees, not to mention the occasional violence involved in the business. The movie casino scene may not be the best depiction of real life, but it always makes for a good story.
The characters mentioned above have been some of the most entertaining in the history of casino films, and most of their lines and scenes are easily memorable. You should make a point of watching all the movies mentioned in this piece.