From Casino to Rounders to Jurassic Park to Jurassic World: Movies That Moved the Needle in Online Gaming
Online gaming is continuing to grow at an astronomical pace and is currently estimated to be a $37 billion industry as of 2016, with expectations that it will grow to well over $50 billion by 2020. Like many societal issues, acceptance for gaming has gotten a push from the pop culture world as TV and film have given more insight into the issue than viewers might otherwise have.
TV shows like Las Vegas and CSI: Las Vegas gave us behind the scenes looks at the casino world, but what are the best casino movies to watch for entertainment and insight that also maybe had some sway in the popularity and acceptance of gambling that predated online gaming? While there are a number of movies overtly based around casinos, inspiration has also come from unlikely sources. Take Guts, for example, where numerous online slots are branded now to enhance users’ experiences by being themed around a particular film or series – the Jurassic Park/World movie franchise and the Game of Thrones series being just two high profile examples of options for gamers.
One of the most popular movies centred on casinos was the 1995 movie Casino, by Martin Scorsese. The film showed us the way casinos used to be run back in the '70s. Starring Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone and based on the life of Chicago mob associate Frank Rosenthal, the movie was more focused on the seedier side of things but also made clear the path Rosenthal blazed for legitimate sportsbooks which now proliferate casinos and the internet.
Pesci, DeNiro and Stone in Casino (from top). Source: Casino via Facebook
Another popular movie, also based on real people and events, was 21 in 2008. Starring Kevin Spacey, 21 told the story of a group of MIT students who figured out card-counting schemes to beat the casinos in blackjack. The film showcased the constant battle between casinos and those who ingeniously try to ‘get an edge on the house.’
Source: 21 via Facebook
Arguably the most influential movie vis-à-vis online gaming would have to be Rounders in 1998. Headlined by young stars on the rise Matt Damon and Edward Norton, this movie focused on the game of poker – specifically Texas Hold’em – which was creeping out of the shadows and into respectability. The ensuing surge of popularity led to online poker being available the following year and ever increasing tolerance as groups of friends organised their monthly games and casinos around the world saw an increased demand for Texas Hold’em.
Norton and Damon bring Texas Hold'em to the mainstream. Source: Rounders via Facebook
Not long after, poker would become a regular fixture on television sets with shows like World Poker Tour and the World Series of Poker which further drove awareness and acceptance of the game which in turn kept the boom online poker going strong.
These movies don’t represent the totality of pop culture influences that raised the level of acceptance and usage of online gaming, but they definitely did their part. In fact, movies and TV continue to play an important role as the industry expands and gains legal status in more and more jurisdictions.