Slot Machines in Hollywood: Most Memorable Scenes
Hollywood gets inextricably linked to Las Vegas, Nevada, through films like Casino (1995) and Ocean’s Eleven (2001). Slot machines in Hollywood showed up in movies that defined generations and American culture.
With brick-and-mortar casinos shuttered during the coronavirus pandemic, online gambling increased. Legalization had already ushered in a boom period for the gaming industry.
As casinos opened again to the public, Americans continued to gamble at record levels. They bet almost $55 billion at casinos and mobile apps in the first eleven months of 2022.
Here’s a look at the most memorable scenes associated with slot machines in Hollywood.
Rain Man (1988)
Rain Man was a 1988 road drama about a greedy car salesman, Charlie, played by Tom Cruise. His brother, Raymond (“Ray),” played by Dustin Hoffman, has autism.
After Charlie learns of his father’s death, he tries to seek an inheritance. He discovers his father left $3 million to a forgotten brother in a Cincinnati mental institution.
Charlie goes to get Ray, who refuses to fly to Los Angeles. They drive back, and along the way, Charlie discovers Ray’s uncanny ability to count hundreds of objects simultaneously.
After learning of a failed business deal and passing Las Vegas, Charlie decides to visit Caesars Palace with his savant brother.
There’s an iconic scene of Cruise and Hoffman descending to the casino floor, dressed in matching suits. They pass by the slot machines with vibrant close-ups and frantic players smoking, pulling levers, and tapping spin buttons.
Ray gets mesmerized by the lights and sounds of the slots before sitting down to play blackjack with his brother.
Directed by Barry Levinson (Good Morning, Vietnam, and Wag the Dog), Rain Man won four Academy Awards. The film grossed over $350 million on a $25 million budget.
What Happens in Vegas (2008)
Much like in Rain Man, casino scenes in Hollywood often have to do with table games. However, the film What Happens in Vegas, starring Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz, is based on a jackpot win at a Las Vegas slot machine.
Joy (Diaz) and Jack (Kutcher) meet by chance on a Vegas trip with friends after comparable life failures. They party and drink together at night and get married while drunk.
The next day, Joy and Jack agree to get a divorce. Before going through with it, Joy gives Jack a quarter which he uses at a slot. He ends up winning a jackpot worth $3 million.
It’s one of the few Hollywood movies where a slot machine plays a primary role in the plot.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
The infamous American writer Hunter S. Thompson published Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas under his Raoul Duke pseudonym in The Rolling Stone in 1971. Random House published the book the following year.
Hollywood failed to adapt the book into a film until the late 1990s with Terry Gilliam’s finished version. Starring Benicio del Toro and Johnny Depp, the movie disappointed at the box office but later became a cult classic.
As a journalist on a minor assignment for Sports Illustrated, Duke (Depp) and his lawyer, Dr. Gonzo (del Toro), get as intoxicated as possible while taking to the casino floor.
The movie depicts the excesses of Las Vegas as the gaming industry went through decades of association with taboos and vice.
Thompson’s career flourished after the publishing of his magnum opus. He went on to cover gambling and politics for the rest of his career.
Undoubtedly, he would’ve enjoyed the rise of online gambling across America.
Today’s Players get 24/7 access to top gambling slots at reputable offshore sites from their smartphones.
Martin Scorsese’s Casino might be the most essential film regarding America’s gaming industry. The film plays on the beginnings of Las Vegas as it became associated with organized crime via the Mafia.
Based on a book by Nicholas Pileggi (co-writer of Goodfellas), Casino stars Joe Pesci, Robert De Niro, and Sharon Stone. As an expert sports handicapper in Chicago, Sam Rothstein (De Niro) gets tasked with overseeing the opening of a Las Vegas casino.
After doubling the casino’s profits, Sam skims the extra cash back to Mafia bosses. They eventually send Sam’s childhood friend, enforcer Nicky Santoro (Pesci), a “made” guy, to protect their investment.
A significant turning point in the movie occurs when Sam fires a slot manager for allowing too many wins on a particular machine. The fired manager is a brother-in-law to the Clark County Commission chairman. Sam refuses to rehire the fired manager.
The chairman then denies Sam’s casino license, showcasing the connections of Vegas gaming oversight.
Grossing over $115 million on a $50 million budget, Casino runs for nearly three hours. It’s truly an epic with Las Vegas, betrayal, and crime at the heart of its storyline.
Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
Directed by Stephen Soderbergh, Ocean’s Eleven is a remake of the 1960 Rat Pack movie. The film is the first in a trilogy surrounding career criminals.
With a budget of $85 million, the 2001 version starred George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, and Julia Roberts. After grossing $450 million, the film remains one of Hollywood’s most successful casino movies.
There aren’t too many scenes centered around slots. The film does offer plenty of information, though, regarding casino oversight and security measures.
A central plot point comes from Danny Ocean (Clooney) and his desire to rob three major Las Vegas casinos.
Only in Hollywood.
Casinos Remain an Essential Part of American Gaming Culture
Worldwide gaming culture continues to thrive. With billions of downloads, gamers use their smartphones to interact through mobile apps. The gaming and gambling industries have intertwined.
Social casinos and offshore sites allow players in illegal gambling jurisdictions to play games online. Users choose from bingo, blackjack, slots, and poker.
Slots and table games generated the most revenue among gambling Americans in 2022.
Casinos remain a significant part of American gaming culture.
What’s your favorite slot to play?