6 Things Movies and Series Get Wrong About Gambling

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BetMGM Aug 24, 2021, 10:10 AM

Online casinos in the USA are legitimate businesses with expenses and profits – providing real casino games and a great user experience doesn’t come cheap. For the public, they’re an entertaining way to spend some of their leisure time. Unfortunately, the movie industry sometimes gets carried away, and gets things wrong in its efforts to create dramatic scenes and glamorous backdrops.

Here are 6 of the biggest myths that gambling movies and TV series portray about the world of wagering.

1. Casinos are all glitz and glam

Sepia image of a movie projector.

Some of the most famous gambling scenes in movie history are those of James Bond engaged in tension-charged, high-stakes casino table games in settings that are impossibly glamorous. Who can forget the scene when 007 faces off against the villainous Le Chiffre in a game of No-Limit Texas Hold’em?

The truth is that while there are many famous, upmarket casinos around the world, particularly in Monaco, Macau and Las Vegas, the majority of casinos have been set up to entertain ordinary people. Your nearest brick-and-mortar casino is more likely to host 60th birthdays or engagement parties, and get visited by people in shirts and pants, and skirts and cardigans rather than tux-wearing international men (and women) of mystery.

2. Gambling can make you rich quick

One of the things movies get wrong most often is implying that gambling is a great way to get rich quickly and with minimal effort. The heroes of Tinseltown win every time, either in a tournament or soon after strolling up to a table. But it’s a different case in reality. According to Investopedia, the true odds of winning at gambling in general, are 37 to 1 or 38 to 1 (that’s +3700 or +3800 in American odds,) and in 2020, America’s debt-help organization debt.org recorded that as many as 23 million Americans were in debt due to their gambling activities, with each person losing an average of around $55,000.

The bottom line is that successful gamblers, whether they prefer online casino games or time spent at a casino, play for the entertainment factor. They make allowance for their bankroll as part of their recreational budget, and they balance gambling with many other leisure activities, which makes it easy to walk away when their time or money is up. So remember to give “fun” top priority the next time you log on to your favorite casino site and you’ll have a good time… even though you probably won’t hit the big time!

3. All it takes to win is a bit of brain power

There have been plenty of movies made about how easy it is for a genius to beat the odds and walk away with loads of cash – from Eric Bana winning at the poker tables in Lucky You, and Dustin Hoffman outwitting the tables by “counting cards” in Rain Man, to Zach Galifianakis’ big win in The Hangover.

While there’ll always be a certain amount of skill involved in a game like poker or blackjack, winning at most casino games comes down to one thing only, and that’s Lady Luck. Recreational gamblers play for the fun of it with a predetermined bankroll, as a responsible way to take their mind off life’s troubles and relax, so it doesn’t matter if they rarely win. Playing the latest titles and their favorite online slots is reward enough.

4. Casinos are portrayed as dangerous places

One of the most common themes in gambling movies has been fictitious connections between casinos and the mafia or dangerous individuals. From Smart Money starring James Cagney in 1931 to California Split in the 1970s, Once Upon a Time in America in the 1980s, and Carlito’s Way and Hard Eight in the 1990s, the casino gangster epic has been a firm favorite with audiences around the world.

Nowadays, casinos – both land-based and online – are mostly owned by large corporations that understand that good business sense and a legit reputation are crucial to customer loyalty and an establishment’s longevity. So when you’re looking to play casino games online, it’s important to pick a trustworthy, regulated and regularly audited site such as BetMGM. 

5. Stiffing ‘the house’ is easy

Movies about casino cheating are a dime a dozen. Probably the most famous is the Ocean’s franchise that has taken us from Ocean’s Eleven through Thirteen and an Ocean’s 8 spin-off.

In these stories, casinos seem to be continually in the crosshairs of would-be thieves, pitting some down-and-out but essentially decent characters against a large gambling establishment, with the little guys always coming out on top.

The real truth is that casinos are indeed vulnerable to crime, whether in the form of robbery or attempted cheating at the land-based tables, or cyberattacks in the case of online casinos. But like all responsible businesses, these establishments spend a great deal of money keeping themselves and their customers safe from theft and exploitation with state-of-the-art casino surveillance systems and the latest cyber defenses.

Unlike movies and TV series that show a cheater having his legs broken in a dark alleyway, these days you’ll face criminal charges, and either a hefty fine or time in prison. (You’ll probably get a lifetime ban from the establishment, too.) It’s always best to keep in mind that while you may cheat Lady Luck from time to time, you’ll almost never get away with cheating the house.

6. Certain games are for certain types of people

A well-dressed man pushes a pile of casino chips forward with lush red drapes in the background.

It isn’t unusual for gamblers to be portrayed as stereotypes in the movies, from bingo being shown to be for the elderly only in TV series like The Simpsons, to baccarat as the game of choice for the successful and sophisticated thanks to a certain Mr Bond, and poker being for edgy, maverick types.  

In the real world, certain games do not appeal to certain types of people alone. Bingo has been on the comeback trail since the 1990s, and is now uber-cool with twenty- and thirty-somethings. Meanwhile baccarat is often seen played by middle-aged men in polyester shirts and pants – and poker is a game for everyone, whether you’re in your sixties, or a 25-year-old playing online while barefoot, in shorts sporting cartoon characters. So from now on, if you feel like playing a casino game, don’t let any preconceptions stop you!

Play online casino games at BetMGM, whoever you are

Now that we’ve separated the myths from reality, you can get on with playing real online casino games! Whether slots are your thing or you’d like to try your hand at table games or maybe a few immersive live dealer games, register with BetMGM and join in the fun for real.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.