Casinos and Modern Pop Culture – A Match Made In Heaven?

In spite of the more dangerous and harmful side of casinos and everything associated with them, society has had a long love affair for everything associated with them for as long as we can remember. Even for those who don’t choose to visit them (for personal reasons or because they aren’t able to), there’s no way to avoid their influence on contemporary culture or avoid references to casinos or the more popular games found in them in almost every aspect of everyday life…

Video Games

We’re proud to admit to being geeks here at Infinite Frontiers and video games play a big part in most of our lives. Directly or indirectly the world of video games and casinos have been integrated right since the dawn of the games industry. Whether it’s been home versions of poker or slot machines on consoles as far back as the Atari 2600, local and online licensed poker games featuring some of the most well-known players competing in the World Series of Poker Tournaments on the PS3 it’s great to be able to take part, safe in the knowledge that your bank balance is perfectly intact at the end of it!

It’s not just the games that are based around gambling and casinos that appeal to the average gamer. References have appeared in the unlikeliest of places in the gaming world for decades. One of my favourite open-world games on the PS3, Sleeping Dogs, certainly has one of the strangest… There is one area you can discover in the game world where you can wager your in-game currency on – of all things – cock fights that are taking place on the seafront! Not something you’d expect to find every day in Las Vegas! Whether it’s characters in games who are tasked with visiting casinos, games that feature betting elements within them as bonus games (often a trait for many RPGs) or even games of chance for end of level bonus points, there are references everywhere…

Hollywood Takes A Bow

It’s understandable that film and television is drawn to the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, casinos and everything associated with them. It’s no wonder that a wealth of Hollywood greats have been a part of some of the classic movies that have come out of Las Vegas that have either depicted gambling as a way of life or have been based in or around the city itself. Despite changing lead actors twice,the original CSI series managed to last for a staggering 15 years – an achievement that not many drama series could attest to. Sadly, that level of success wasn’t achieved more recently by the action series The Player that starred Wesley Snipes. Based around a group of anonymous businessmen who gamble on the outcome of criminal activities and the intervention of the show’s protagonist (the aforementioned “player”) to determine whether or not he can stop crimes or not, it was canned after just nine episodes.

Cinema has fared much better with the Ocean’s Eleven series, both Casino Royale films (I’ll leave it to you to decide which of the two interpretations of the Bond movie you prefer here), the stunning Brit flick Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (which is a personal favourite of mine), The Cincinnati Kid and far too many more to mention. Now if you’ve been playing a few games and watched a few of these and then you believe that Lady Luck is on your side, is always ready to satisfy your betting ambitions.

The Gambling Lifestyle Reflected In Music

Music, is another one of those areas that seems to be drawn to the gambling culture, whether it’s through soundtracks from some of the films I mentioned earlier or simply as original songs. It seems as if there are always a few themes that always make good songs and if it’s not about love, it has to be something to do with money! Anything that encaptures the thrills, the glamour, the emotion, and the risks always seems to be a winner and there have been no shortage of legendary performers who have taken to the microphone to record some truly classic songs over the decades.

The King himself, Elvis Presley, was known to be a lifelong fan of Las Vegas and is often associated with his classic song Viva Las Vegas (taken from his film of the same name) although many forget the cover version later done by ZZTop. For those of you lucky enough to have been to Vegas you’ll know that it’s just as famous for its hotels as it is for its casinos, especially with the stars who perform in the theatres in them and one singer who was no stranger to them was the legend that was Frank Sinatra whose Luck Be A Lady was another song about gambling that has stood the test of time remarkably well. Even Australian rockers AC/DC got in on the act with their own Vegas inspired track with Sin City. It really seems as if no-one, regardless of what audience they appeal to, can resist the lure of the bright lights of Vegas…

No matter where you look, what you do, where you go, all aspects of our culture have been permeated by casinos, gambling or aspects of it. If it’s something you decide to be an active participant of – whether its as simple as the Lotto or a scratchcard – as long as it’s treated with a degree of respect then you can have a load of fun. Otherwise, just savour all of the media and entertainment all around you as it will be with us for a long time to come…

About Simon Plumbe 214 Articles
Husband, father and lifelong geek. Originally from the West Midlands, now spending my days in South Wales with my family and a house full of animals. Passionate about video games, especially retro gaming, the Commodore 64 and PlayStation Vita. Love pro wrestling, sci-fi and I'm an animal lover and vegetarian. Enjoyed this and my other articles? Why not buy me a coffee:

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