The global downturn brought about by COVID-19 has wreaked havoc with peoples’ lives the world over, forcing us all to adapt in some shape or form to the ‘new normal’. For most, that means sacrificing some of the things we love dearest – like a trip to the cinema, cheering on your favourite sports team, or an innocent flutter down the local casino.
Whether you like the rush of the roulette wheel, enjoy a turn on blackjack, or prefer to don your poker face at the green felt, land-based casinos represent an exciting safehouse where we come to forget everyday troubles and socialise, and where bringing down the house remains an ever-enticing proposition.
Thankfully, help is at hand for any of you out there missing the thrill of the live casino ambience, thanks to Wildz Casino. To guide you through these COVID-19-plagued times, we’ve compiled a rundown of some of the best gambling-themed flics to have graced the big screen over the years.
So sit back, switch off the lights and burst open the popcorn to one of the following movies to be transported right to the casino floor.
Who better to kick off our shortlist than the smoothest operator in all of Hollywood - Mr. 007 himself?
Sent by Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, James Bond (Daniel Craig) heads off for the lesser trodden plains of Montenegro to partake in a super high stakes poker game against Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) in Casino Royale, hellbent on bankrupting the financier of terrorism. It is here that Bond falls in love, for the umpteenth time. On this occasion the subject of his amorous intentions is Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), a femme fatale who ensures Bond arrives suitably bankrolled for the multi-million-dollar showdown.
In classic Bond fashion, he goes on to win the deciding $115million (€95million) hand with a royal flush, before surviving an assassination attempt orchestrated by his archenemy and escaping to Venice.
The film would gross a staggering $606million (€500million) worldwide, making it the highest earning Bond film until Skyfall hit viewers' screens six years later.
Ocean Eleven comes swaggering onto our list with arguably the most stellar line-up of all gambling movies, oozing plenty of Las Vegas cool.
The incomparable George Clooney leads an all-star cast as Danny Ocean alongside the equally suave Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) in the first of the three-part Ocean's series. Fresh from his Rounders appearance, Matt Damon also dusts himself off as Linus Caldwell for another high adrenaline gambling affair, as the group set about concocting a heist worth $160million (€130million) from casino owner Terry Benedict (García).
Director Steven Soderbergh adds a large dash of comedy to lighten proceedings in this stylish 2001 release that evokes lashings of 1950s ratpack charm, ensuring the film doesn't get bogged down in the blood-soaked dramatics of previous Sin City blockbusters.
Arguably the finest poker movie ever produced sees a cocky, wrinkle-free Mike McDermott (Matt Damon) take on Russian mobster Teddy "KGB" (John Malkovich) in the murky high stakes underworld of New York.
Rounders is perhaps best remembered for its scene in which the KBG kingpin breaks open an OREO Cookie during a winner-takes-all poker decider - inadvertently giving off an obvious live 'tell' that reveals the true strength of his hand.
His actions don't go unnoticed by the eagle-eyed McDermott, whose poker instincts correctly interpret the gesture as a very real bluff. In the end it proves a $60,000 (€50,000) mistake to the hardline Soviet intelligence bureau, with McDermott going on to take his nemesis for the lot and finally rid himself of debt.
No compilation of the best gambling movies of all time is complete without a nod to mobster-heavy Casino, centred around wise guys of Las Vegas.
The crime movie follows Ace (Robert De Niro), charged with overseeing daily operations at the Tangiers Casino on the neon-lit Vegas strip. His role is made difficult by constant interference from the Mafia muscling in on his patch, along with the hustling ways of his wife, Ginger (Sharon Stone). Ultimately, Mafia enforcer Nicky (Joe Pesci) takes things too far in his attempts to infiltrate the casino scene, finding himself buried alive in one of the most iconic, terrifying climaxes to a Martin Scorsese flic.
An all-star cast made up of such Hollywood glitterati as De Niro, Stone and Pesci ensure this production retains a place in the hearts of casino lovers - and fans of gangster movies, for eternity.
Last but by no means least, 21 relives the story of a group of math whizz-kids studying at MIT University in Massachusetts, who can lay claim to truly breaking Vegas for close to a decade.
Led by founder, Bill Kaplan, the MIT Blackjack Team's modus operandi: card counting. Simple on paper, but excruciatingly hard to execute in practice - especially under the watchful eye of heavy-handed security guards and casino bosses - all dumbfounded at the team's unprecedented success.
It's estimated the group cleaned out various gambling halls for more than $10million (€8million) over the course of their 10-year blackjack reign - one of the most enduring legacies ever to emerge from MIT University and earning its place in Vegas folklore. The students' legendary run also inspired the 2005 paperback penned by Ben Mezrich, Busting Vegas.