Casinos In Popular Culture


In 1931, Nevada legalized casino gambling, and by the late 1940s, Las Vegas was well on its way to becoming the gambling capital of the world. By the time Elvis was singing Viva Las Vegas and images showing the strip were appearing on TV, the world associated luxury hotels and neon lights with gambling.

Since then, the glitz and glamor of casinos have permeated popular culture. We take a look at some of the areas of our lives that it has influenced.

Casinos Go Mainstream

In their early years, casinos were already popular. Still, they were seen as something you’d have to save up for, or maybe partake in on a special trip. Generally, they were something only the rich could enjoy. This meant that many people were aware of casinos, but didn’t have firsthand experience of one.

Online casinos first launched in the late 90s and have only grown in popularity. Ever since, the audience for games and gambling expanded substantially. Many physical casinos launched an online version. With a much larger audience, the number of people that could relate to casino pop culture references grew.

Symbols Of The Casino

One of the most widely spread elements of the casino that has entered our lives in small ways is the icons or symbols that are part of gambling. Thanks to the games of chance and the idea that you can get lucky and win big, the symbols are often associated with luck.

These objects range from the lucky dice hanging around a car’s mirror to casino and poker themed bars and parties. Even more common than these is getting a gambling tattoo. Popular images include a lucky number 7, the ace of spades, and the dead man’s hand.

Casino Setting

Las Vegas, and casinos, in particular, are popular places for a film to be set. There is something about our shared understanding of what happens in a casino. We can relate to the attitude and mindset of people who visit, which helps create a mood or tone for a storyline.

Notable films with casino settings include Casino Royale, Rounders, and Casino. There isn’t a limit on the type of genre that suits a casino backdrop, though. Comedies like The Hangover produced fantastic yet relatable scenarios. Even great science fiction franchises often add casino scenes, like the Canto Bright Casino in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Final Thoughts

Now that we can get casinos on our laptop and smartphone screens; we’re more comfortable than ever with the setting and symbols of the casino. Games of skill and games of chance continue to fascinate us, which is why it is not surprising to see gambling imagery in popular culture.

We’re just as comfortable experiencing it on the big screen, perhaps because the casino brings with it an easily understood set of rules, actions and emotions. Whether we’re picturing Bond in a tux or BB-8 being confused for a game, casinos are a recognizable part of our lives with a positive connection and atmosphere.