What Hollywood Movies Get Wrong About Gambling


If someone wants to know about the seedy side of gambling, there’s no shortage of Hollywood films that will take the viewer down that path. Many of these gloomy films focus on the addictive aspects of gambling, mostly sports betting and poker. If anyone wants to get a glimpse of what “rock bottom” looks like to a compulsive gambler, films like “Fever Pitch” 1985 with Ryan O’Neil, “The Gambler” 1974 with James Caan, “The Gambler” 2014 with Mark Wahlberg, “Owning Mahoney” 2003 with Philip Seymour Hoffman and “Rounders” 1998 with Matt Damon will certainly oblige.

The problem with the way Hollywood movies portray gambling is there’s very little balance. The movies either focuses on the bad aspects of gambling or some angle where the gambler becomes an instant millionaire in spite of impossible odds: see “Let It Ride” 1989 with Richard Dreyfuss. Either way, Hollywood fails to address gambling the way it really is for most people. Remember, the gambling industry is currently growing at an unprecedented trajectory, due in large part to the growth of online gambling throughout the world. It’s almost second nature for someone in Europe to sit down with their laptop or smartphone and start playing casino games for real cash on a casino website www.g-club.net or any one of another 500 sites.

The Truth About Gambling That Hollywood Misses

Let’s take a look at reality and what gambling is like for the average adult. First, land-based and online gambling providers are heavily regulated. With a built-in house advantage on every betting option, there’s simply no viable reason for any casino to go rogue and risk losing guaranteed profits. The rogue casinos quickly run themselves out of business because word spreads like wildfire. Any movies about cheating casinos should be viewed as fiction.

For most people, say 90% of them, gambling is a fun and exciting form of adult entertainment. For the average person, playing a few hands of Blackjack or spinning a slot’s reels has no more chance of leading to tragedy and addictive behavior that eating a hamburger has to leading to obesity. Of course, gambling is a prerequisite to a gambling problem, but that hardly justifies portraying gambling to be a bad thing.

The reality is most people belly up a few dollars of their discretionary money and gamble for a little while on their favorite options. They eventually walk away with a little extra money in their pocket or a smile on their face from the enjoyment they experienced. You’ll never see a Hollywood movie about this aspect of gambling because there’s no hook, there’s no excitement in portraying normal life.

That doesn’t mean problems don’t occur. What we know about all addictions is people who are vulnerable to an addiction usually have a host of other personal problems they want to hide behind with drugs or gambling. In all fairness, Hollywood (see the movies listed above) does a good job of getting down and dirty in dealing with this subject matter. It’s incumbent on each adult to understand their limitations and honour those limitations. Most recreational gamblers do exactly that, which is what makes gambling a great form of adult entertainment.

How Hollywood Might Portray Gambling in the Future

As a whole, the gambling industry is undergoing a huge transformation. If people have a desire to gambler for a few hours, they can do so online without having to travel and incur additional expenses. Land-based casino gambling has become more of a vacation vocation for folks who want to eat good food, watch first-class entertainment and gamble as time allows.

With this drastic shift towards online gambling, Hollywood is likely to go looking for a hook. Maybe the movie-watching public will get a glimpse of how online poker players can make millions by shadowing no-limit poker games with special software. Maybe Virtual Reality technology will lead Hollywood to portray people caught in an actual virtual casino or better yet, as live participants in a video slot bonus game. Who knows what the future holds?

What we can assume is this. Online gambling is fast becoming a part of everyday life for people all over the world. With a license to portray things any way they want, we can count on Hollywood to find the drama in online gambling and exploit it to its fullest.

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