Over the years, casinos have been seen in countless movie titles. Ever since the first casino was opened, they have been portrayed on film, be it on the big screen or on television – our fascination has never wavered. In this feature, we take a look at three essential casino movies that you absolutely must track down. Most are now available on DVD, or on the major streaming services.

Hard Eight

His little-known casino-based movie was made before there were slot machine games to play online. In fact, this year the film celebrates its 23rd anniversary of release. Hard Eight was brought to the screen by none other than Paul Thomas Anderson, who would later go on to direct the likes of Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood, and the more recent Phantom Thread. Phillip Baker Hall leads the cast of the film as Sydney, a professional gambler who teaches John (the superb John C. Reilly) the art of his trade. Things are going swimmingly until John meets and falls for glamourous cocktail waitress Clementine, played by Gwyneth Paltrow. The film’s impressive cast and solid direction from Anderson make this an absolute must for fans of the crime genre.

Croupier

It’s across the pond for our next one, an early screen outing from British actor Clive Owen. Croupier,  directed by the legendary Mike Hodges, is set in a London venue – an all gambling list casino can find one near you – Croupier follows Jack, an aspiring writer who fills in at his local casino to pay the bills. It is there where he discovers that his new-found vocation would actually make a great story and starts putting pen to paper to make his experiences his next novel. Croupier was released in 1999 and proved to be a launch pad for the talented Owen, who would go on to appear in the likes of The Bourne Identity, King Arthur and Children of Men in the years that followed.

The Hangover

The Hangover was, at one time, the biggest earning adult comedy to have ever been released in cinemas. It was a very funny movie set in the gambling mecca Las Vegas, revolving around a bachelor party that goes horribly wrong. The trio of men at the centre of the story lose their groom on the eve of his wedding, and end up in tons of debt, owing a considerable amount of money to a local gangster. In the limited time they have left until the big day, the three must come up with a plan of winning back some cash to pay off the gangster and locate their friend. The three don’t opt for an online casino win real cash in the story, but instead look to Zack Galifianakis’ Alan to count cards in a blackjack game to score some funds as the zero-hour approaches. It’s a great watch, and stands up to repeated viewings, director Todd Phillips laying on the humour and action set-pieces aplent