Since their creation, casinos have been depicted many times in various forms of pop culture. These establishments are touchstones of fortune and luck, providing the glamorous backdrop for many cinematic masterpieces and literary works, but their study can also hold a mirror to the society that they belong to, as trends in casino gaming are often reflections of trends elsewhere in our society. This article will touch on the main phases of casino culture as seen through the lens of contemporary popular culture, from the casino complexes of Las Vegas to the technological realms of virtual reality we will see that casinos have had an enduring effect on pop culture.
The cultural phenomenon of Las Vegas
it would be somewhat gauche to talk about the influence of casinos on contemporary pop culture without mentioning or discussing Las Vegas, this desert city is a worldwide byword for extravagance and adult fun. Throughout the 20th century, Las Vegas was the pinnacle of casino culture and the height of extravagance, filled with legendary entertainers and locations it was a site of pilgrimage for those bored or possessing altogether too much money, the rich and aspirational used its fantastically opulent buildings as their playground. All of this has been lovingly represented over and over again in pop culture. Films like “Casino” and “Ocean’s Eleven” showcase a world of intrigue, glamour, danger and excitement that can only be pictured amongst the bustling casino tables of Vegas.
Las Vegas permeated the zeitgeist of the 20th century and all knew it as a place of extravagance and excess. But the city wasn’t famous just because of the casino games that people liked to play there, the idea of Las Vegas is synonymous with the idea of the American Dream, which is that it’s possible that anyone, from any walk of life, could become wealthy if they played their cards right.
The birth of online casinos
Towards the close of the 20th century, the world changed forever with the introduction of the Internet, the information super-highway. Three years after the internet was created in 1991, the first online casino appeared. Compared to what is on offer today, it would look laughably simple, but for people of the time, it was revolutionary.
Online casinos might not have been immediately adopted by many, but as technology matured, so too did the online casino industry. Now players were able to access casino games like the ones in Las Vegas, those same games they had seen represented in popular culture, from anywhere they could access the internet. This convenience of access allowed casinos to offer gambling to a vast audience of people who might have always dreamed of visiting Las Vegas but never had the opportunity, which democratized the act of casino gambling.
The online casino boom
While initially very simple and some might say lacklustre when compared to the experience of visiting a casino, this was not the case for online casinos for long. Just after the turn of the century the online casino industry matured alongside the technology it used and began to offer a rich and diverse gaming experience. The online casino industry has since grown into one of the world’s largest entertainment industries. With cutting-edge technology allowing live dealer games and interesting slot machines right alongside traditional casino games like blackjack or roulette, some say that the online casino industry is now able to surpass its original goal of mirroring the glamour of Las Vegas and is now instead able to provide a better experience.
An excellent example of this industry’s success can be seen in platforms like Betway, which offers a dizzying selection of casino games that players can choose from if they want to experience what virtual gambling can be. Many online casinos have made concerted attempts to provide more than just access to traditional casino games but also to provide novel experiences that can’t be found elsewhere. These online gaming platforms have been embraced by popular culture, where they appear in movies and TV shows and the glamourization of online gambling is as prevalent as that which surrounded Las Vegas last century.
Virtual reality casinos seem to be the next step forward
As various technologies mature we see them being adopted by industries and made a key part of their businesses, this is the case with casino games and virtual reality (VR). Casinos that are desperate to maintain an edge over their competitors are phasing in more and more VR games with the promise of a more immersive and interactive experience. The implications of VR in gambling are that the realm of the digital casino is seeking to fully supplant the physical by reaching for the offering of an experience that is the same as that of a physical casino but with none of the hassle of needing to travel.
The idea of the casino is so firmly ingrained in popular culture that even as it changes and digital casinos become more the norm, it is likely that representations of physical casinos will exist in popular culture for many decades to come. Casinos will surely continue to change and evolve and the way that people play casino games will change, even if the games themselves do not.