Sin City – Home of Gambling
Las Vegas is the home of gambling in the US and the heart of the casino world in the US
The format for American sports betting was invented by bookmakers in Nevada, and Las Vegas hosts the annual de World Series of Poker, a series of poker tournaments culminating in the $10,000 buy-in WSOP main event, where a world poker champion is crowned and many millionaires are earned.
Hollywood loves Vegas
The movie industry has embraced Las Vegas, with many classic heist and gambling movies taking place in Sin City.
Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, Rain Man, Oceans 11 (1960) or the 2001 remake, or how about The Hangover, Leaving Las Vegas or Vegas Vacation? The question is, what’s your favorite ‘Vegas movie’?
It probably isn’t 1995’s Showgirls starring a young Demi Moore, which is regularly voted the worst Vegas movie ever made. It probably isn’t 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever, either. It regularly wins the poll when people are asked to vote for the “worst Bond movie ever.”
In reality, there are many Las Vegas movies to choose from. Vegas has been appearing in movies since the early 1940s. At the last count there are more than 100 titles that were made or shot in Vegas.
In the polls, which are popping up at an alarming rate, the comedy genre is in a different top 10 order every time. However, the most popular musical and gambling films always have the same names at the top of their lists: Elvis Presley’s ‘Viva Las Vegas’ and the Martin Scorsese/Robert De Niro collaboration, ‘Casino’.
Long Live Las Vegas (US, 1964)
Viva Las Vegas ends at the Little Church of the West, a wedding chapel that is the oldest chapel in Vegas and still open. Casino scenes in this movie are actually very few. The ones you may see were all filmed at the Sands Hotel.
The Sands closed in 1996, but before it breathed its last breath and imploded, Hollywood was having some fun. The film ‘Con Air’, released in 1997, used the lobby of the former casino as the setting for the chaotic finale of the plane crash.
Casino (US, 1995)
It had been done before to use a defunct casino to shoot a Vegas movie.
Martin Scorsese turned the lights back on at the Vegas Landmark Casino to film the 1995 Casino smash, the all-time classic starring Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci.
The film is based on the true story of sports betting pro Frank Lawrence Rosenthal who was renamed Frank “Ace” Rothstein and played by De Niro for the film version. Rosenthal is credited with increasing exposure to: sports betting in Las Vegas in the 1970s, when he was named “the best living expert on sports gambling” by Sports Illustrated.
Robert de Niro as Frank “Ace” Rothstein in Martin Scorsese’s Casino
The Vegas Landmark Casino was given the mythical name Tangier for the film. By then it had been closed for almost five years.
Most of the scenes in the Casino movie were filmed at the famous Riviera Hotel, Casino & Sportsbook on the Las Vegas strip. The Rivera was an active casino at the time and only went under in 2015 – by the usual implosion method.
The driving scene at the beginning of the movie was filmed on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas, which is no longer open to vehicular traffic. And this movie was shot entirely in the valley of Las Vegas, making it a rarity among all the so-called “Vegas movies.”
Another interesting aspect of the Landmark Casino is that it was once owned by billionaire aviator Howard Hughes. And, contrary to the fiction in Con Air, a plane crashed in 1968. On this occasion, the pilot, who was suicidal, died.
21, (US, 2008)
Another movie that shot many scenes in the old Riviera Hotel is 21, a true story about six MIT students who were trained to become masters of blackjack card counting – and who beat the odds and took over Las Vegas casinos for millions of dollars.
Kevin Spacey plays math professor Micky Rosa, who teaches a group of young students how to play the best and most profitable Blackjack betting technique. The crew wore disguises and went to the Vegas card rooms and won $640,000 from Planet Hollywood only.
This big budget movie contains all the key elements of hedonism, deceit and betrayal from the book abort everythingon which the film is based. A 2-hour romp of fast-paced fun, this gambling movie is definitely one of our Vegas favorites.
Top Rated Las Vegas Movies on IMDB
- Take Him to the Greek (2010)
- Jason Bourne (2016)
- Last Vegas (2013)
- Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
- Now You See Me (2013)
- Ocean Elf (2001)
- Ocean’s Twelve (2004)
- Ocean’s Thirteen (2007)
- Rainman (1988)
- Sleepless (2017)
- The Hangover (2009)
- Vegas Vacation (1997)
- Wild Card (2015)
- What Happens in Vegas (2008)
What are your favorite Vegas gambling movies that didn’t make the list?
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