How TV and Movies Have Shaped the Gambling Industry; Details You Should Know

You would be hard-pressed to find an aspect of life that TV and movies have not helped shape in some way. As the two most important forms of media for 50 years, TV and movies have influenced so many things in so many ways. The gambling industry is not immune to this. 

 While there are many ways that this industry has been influenced by these two types of media, it has been influenced slightly differently by each form. Movies have helped romanticized gambling and casinos while TV has shown the reality of the industry and how real people can be involved. Here we will look at 3 movies and 3 TV shows.

 3 Movies That Helped Shaped the Gambling Industry  

For a very long time movies have been the part of the culture that makes things cool. If an industry was the subject of a great movie, it was a major boost for that industry. Movies have long loved to tell gambling-based stories and there are so many that have shaped the industry. Here are 3 that many people point to most often as among the most influential.

 1. Casino 

25 years before director Martin Scorsese and actors Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci got together again for The Irishman, they joined forces for one of the most influential casino movies of all time. Casino hit theaters in 1995 and tells the gritty, epic, and ultra-violent story of Las Vegas casinos in the 1970s. The movie became an instant classic and ranks among Scorsese’s best along with films like Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and The Departed. The movie reinforced Vegas legends about the Mafia tough guys who built the city and is referenced by many visitors today.

2. Rounders

3 years before an average accountant made the poker world explode (more on that in a bit), the epic showdown between Mike McD and Teddy KGB made the world of underground, high-stakes poker games super-cool. With a killer cast featuring Matt Damon, John Malkovich Edward Norton, and more, Rounders did just ok in theaters but found a new life a few years later among poker enthusiasts everywhere. It made people search out underground games and led to bad Russian accents around poker tables everywhere. 

 3. Casino Royale 

In 2006, Casino Royale introduced the world to a cool, new, smolderingly intense James Bond in the form of actor Daniel Craig. In what many consider the best James Bond movie ever, Bond has to take on his nemesis in a high-stakes game of Texas Hold ‘Em in order to save the world. While Rounders showed the dark, gritty side of the poker world, Casino Royale highlighted the glitz and glamour of gambling in Monte Carlo. For anyone who ever walked into a casino in a tux (or wish they had), this James Bond movie has been a huge influence.

 3 TV Shows That Helped Shape the Gambling Industry  

If the movies above helped make casinos and gambling edgy and cool, these TV shows helped make gambling, specifically on poker games, seem like they could be a reality to millions of people around the world. In the early 2000s, TV made average people into poker stars and poker stars into big-time celebrities. What once was at a niche competition that was only interesting to hard-core players became a worldwide phenomenon in large part because of a handful of TV shows. Here are the 3 shows that helped shape the gambling industry most.

 1. World Series of Poker

We will put two other shows on this list, but we don’t really have to. This is because in 2003, an accountant from Tennessee named Chris Moneymaker, who liked to gamble in online casinos in his free time, entered an $86 tournament on PokerStars and went on to win a WSOP Main Event bracelet and $2.5 million. And, it was all shown on ESPN.

 The ensuing poker boom of the early 2000s has become known and “The Moneymaker Effect”. This TV show seems to have launched thousands of online poker rooms, in-person tournaments, and home games around the world. The show itself, which no longer draws the massive ratings it did a little over a decade ago, still airs on ESPN to this day.

 2. High Stakes Poker

During the height of the poker boom in 2006, the Game Show Network (GSN) started a unique poker show that many people loved and wish would come back today. High Stakes Poker was different than other shows because instead of a tournament, it was a high-stakes cash game. Announcers Gabe Kaplan and AJ Benza (and later Kara Scott and Norm McDonald) presided over games where some of the most famous poker players in the world but up huge sums of their own money. Players like Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth, and others bet big, won big and lost big on this incredibly tense and exciting show.

 3. Celebrity Poker Showdown

Years before they became the Real Housewives network, Bravo was actually known for their poker show. The Celebrity Poker Showdown was the TV culmination of the early 2000s poker boom. The game had become so popular that celebrities wanted to get in on the action. Each season of this hour-long show featured 5 satellite tournaments and a final table that would ultimately crown a celebrity champion. The show featured an incredible amount A-list talents vying for the pots including Ben Affleck, Amy Poehler, Chevy Chase, Heather Graham, Neil Patrick-Harris, Rosie O’Donnell, and many, many more.


TV and movies have had a huge influence on the gambling industry over the years. From the aspirational fictional worlds depicted in movies to the inspirational real-life drama shown on poker TV, the influence of these forms of media is still seen today. While social media and streaming services have grown in influence over the years, TV and movies still hold a special place in gamblers’ hearts and every online casino, poker room, and Vegas resort owes these shows and movies a debt of gratitude.