Top 7 movie scenes shot in real casinos

Posted on: September 28, 2022, 03:00h.

Last update on: September 28, 2022, 04:07h.

The vast majority of casino movie scenes that you assume were shot in real casinos were actually sound scenes. This is because never disturbing customers is usually a higher priority for casino owners than advertising a movie that might or might not do well.

Robert De NiroNetflix
Robert DeNiro starred in Martin Scorsese’s 1995 classic, Casino. The same was true for the Riviera in Las Vegas, where most of the film was shot and real guests were filmed playing in the background. (Picture: netflix.com)

We salute the casinos that have taken a bet. From the defunct Desert Inn and Riviera to the still going strong Bellagio, Circus Circus and Fremont, thank you for upgrading the following seven (lucky) casino scenes by making exceptions to this rule.

7. “A winner every time”
Film: Diamonds are forever
Year: 1971

Casino: Circus Circus

Circus Circus provided an exhilarating backdrop of intrigue and action, including a slot machine shooting elephant! – in Sean Connery’s sixth and final turn as a James Bond super spy.

While the movie isn’t great, this scene — in which the CIA stages a water balloon race for Jill St. John to win a bear stuffed with contraband diamonds — is a virtual childhood time machine for anyone who spent at least one day in the mid 60s or 70s.

6. “Always double down in blackjack”
Film: Swingers
Year: 1996

Casino: Fremont

Trent (Vince Vaughan) convinces his buddy, Mike (Jon Favreau), that a trip to “Vegas, baby!” is the only possible cure for his recently broken heart. This scene, filmed at the blackjack table at the Fremont, epitomizes the couple’s dysfunctional relationship. Mike, an inexperienced player, recklessly follows Trent’s persistent advice to “always double the 11”. Of course you shouldn’t, which is why strangers at blackjack tables around the world always break the ice by repeating this quote.

5. “Fountain Scene”
Film: Ocean 11
Year: 2001
Casino: Bellagio

This surprisingly good remake of a 1960 Rat Pack casino heist film had unlimited access to the film inside the Bellagio. (Producer Jerry Weintraub was a close friend of casino owner Kirk Kerkorian.) But his most iconic scene took place on the public sidewalk outside.

Towards the end of the film, the thieves (minus the apprehended George Clooney) gather to watch the fountain show on Claude Debussy’s “Clare de Lune”. Then, one by one, led by Brad Pitt, they separate.

4. “Blackjack scene”
Film: rain man
Year: 1988

Casino: Caesar’s Palace

Tom Cruise (playing a narcissist obsessed with money) discovers that the brother he never knew he had (Dustin Hoffman) is an autistic savant with a unique, money-making talent. Struggling to pay off $80,000 in unexpected debt, Cruise escorts Hoffman to where card counting can pay off big. Their visit to the Caesars Palace casino – which begins with an epic escalator entrance – puts an end to their money troubles.

3. “Blackjack Scene”
Film: The hangover
Year: 2009

Casino: Caesar’s Palace

It is a wonderfully hysterical homage to the rain man scene mentioned above. It begins with a ride down the same escalator, with Zach Galifianakis dressed similarly to Hoffman. And, after a similar montage of card counting and suspicion in the sky, it ends with Galifianakis paying off the same unexpected $80,000 debt.

2. “Bold Advertising Scheme”
Film: Lost in America
Year: 1985

Casino: Desert Inn

In this hysterical scene, Albert Brooks’ typically defeated main character desperately tries to convince Gary Marshall’s casino manager to give him and his wife their money back. This is after she spent most of their nest egg at the Desert Inn roulette. Brooks’ argument includes a pitch for a television campaign announcing the casino’s atypical new cuteness. (“The Desert Inn has heart!” he sings. “The Desert Inn has heart!”)

1. “Blackjack Scene”
Film: Casino
Year: 1995
Casino: Riviera

Joe Pesci (playing a barely fictionalized version of vicious Vegas mob boss Anthony “Tony the Ant” Spilotro) physically and verbally abuses a series of blackjack dealers who don’t deal him the cards he wants. (The one shown above is played by real-life blackjack dealer Nick Mazzola, the same man who dealt blackjack to Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise in rain man!) Almost all Casino was shot by director Martin Scorsese at the Riviera. Its casino floor, penthouse, restaurants, kitchen, ballroom and showroom are all highlighted, preserving this relic for the ages.

And real Riviera guests were filmed playing at the tables in the background. Scorsese asked them not being quiet during filming as he wanted the noise they made to contribute to the authenticity of the film.

Did we forget your favorite casino movie scene shot in a real casino? Let us know in the comments below!

Andrea G. Henderson