In this article, we cover:
  • Gambling myths found in some of your favorite movies
  • The reality of casino gambling compared to on film

6 Minute Read

If you’ve only seen casinos in movies and television, you’d probably have a very inaccurate perception of what actually goes down in those gaming venues. Hollywood makes it seem like casinos are seedy, shady crime-hubs where protagonists come in and overcome the odds to win big. After all, when is the last time you saw a protagonist from a movie really get cleaned out and lose it all in a casino?

The reality is that these types of portrayals are actually nothing more than myths. There’s a bunch of them, so if you’ve been misled, we’re here to set the record straight. Here is a look at five casino myths and what the reality is actually like:

Myth: You Always Win

Reality: You Don’t Always Win

One of the biggest misrepresentations of casinos in movies versus reality is that you always win. If you watch James Bond waltz around a casino, he always seems to win. Whether he’s playing Baccarat, Texas Hold’em, Blackjack or even Craps, he seems to clean up. If only we could all be so lucky.

In reality, most people lose in a casino. Sure, you might have a great night where you end up winning at every game you touch. That’s a little hot streak where things went your way. That’s not the norm, though.

Just think of as in the classic National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation: sometimes you’re Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) and you can’t win a thing and sometimes you’re his brother Rusty, who never loses. Movies make it seem like you can never lose.

Myth: Go With Gut Feeling

Reality: ‘Gut Feeling’ Means Nothing

Almost every single casino movie shows players going with the ‘gut feeling’ and then getting a big win. While that sounds great in a movie script, it’s in stark contrast to reality. Sure, it’s fun seeing Dustin Hoffman go on a run at the tables in Rainman or Zach Galifanakis win big in The Hangover, or seeing James Bond take on Le Chiffre head-to-head in Casino Royale. It’s fantastic for the plot as the protagonist always faces a little bit of a sweat but then pulls it out in the end. The problem is that this isn’t how things work in the real world.


Games in the casino are all pretty much math based. You’re looking at the probabilities and your chances of beating the odds. If you’re playing on a ‘gut feeling’ or instincts rather than making mathematically sound decisions, you’re going to lose in the long run. The numbers don’t lie.

If you want to have some fun and not worry about wins or losses, go into the casino or go online and bet it all on red at the roulette table or go all-in in poker. Go with your gut because that’s what’ll give you a good adrenaline rush. If you want to try to win and beat the house, avoid going with your guy because the key is playing the numbers and situations.

Myth: Casinos Are Run By The Mob

Reality: Casinos Moguls Are Mostly Normal People These Days

If you’ve watched movies like Casino or any in the James Bond series, you’ll see that casinos are run by seedy characters. Of course, back in the day, casinos were actually run by the mafia as it was big business for them. Not only did they make a killing on the games, they also used it as a place to launder money.

However, nowadays, mafia just isn’t a really big player in the casino world. Could they heavily influence one or two here and there? Absolutely. In general, though, casinos are mostly owned by major corporations. For example, MGM Resorts International owns several properties and so does Harrah’s. They’ll hire different companies to run operations for them but none of it is mob-related. You’ll often get some seedy people hanging out in casinos but it’s not nearly as bad as the movies portray.

Myth: You Can Sneak Around Surveillance

Reality: Casino Surveillance Is Impeccable 

If you’ve watched Ocean’s Eleven or any move in the series, you’ve seen how the casino surveillance system can be gamed. Cutting the power here, blocking a camera there, dodging some lasers after and you can get to the money. While it sounds good in a movie, reality is very different. surveillance camera cartoon

Casino surveillance is top-notch and there is really no way to move through the building unseen. Even if you happen to go off the grid for a second or two – maybe because someone obstructed a camera or you crouched down – you would still be seen at almost every other point. That means you’d be seen on the way out of the building, the parking lot, at the tables and many other spots.

Casinos also have advanced surveillance, which means they can use facial recognition, zoom in with clarity and much more. It’s not possible for you to pull anything off without being seen.

Myth: Cheaters Don’t Get Caught And If They Do, They Get Harmed Physically

Reality: Cheaters Get Caught And Pay A Price

This is a bit of a two-in-one: when it comes to cheating in casinos, movies and television portray two different extremes. If a player does get caught cheating, he’s usually taken to a back room where his legs are broken. The other end of the spectrum is that some movie heroes or leads are able to successfully cheat in a casino without getting caught.

The reality is that neither of these are true.

To start, cheating in a casino is nearly impossible these days. As mentioned, surveillance covers every corner of the casino. Dealers are also on high alert and there is other technology put in place to make sure that they can’t be scammed. Unless you’re extremely, extremely sophisticated, you’re not going to get away with it.

The flip side of it is that if you do get caught, nobody is going to pound your face in with a baseball bat. Nowadays, you’ll simply get arrested, get banned and be forced to pay a major fine. It’ll hurt; just not physically.

James Guill

James Guill is a former professional poker player who writes fro about poker, sports, casinos, gaming legislation and the online gambling industry in general. His past experience includes working with IveyPoker, PokerNews, PokerJunkie, Bwin, and the Ongame Network. From 2006-2009 he participated in multiple tournaments including the 37th and 38th World Series of Poker (WSOP). James lives in Virgina and he has a side business where he picks and sells vintage and antique items.

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