Since the 1970s and the release of the movie The Sting, Illinois has established itself in the film industry as a favorite location for screenwriters who want to tell game stories. The successors to The Sting, which won the Oscar winners for Best Picture in 1974 include The Color of Money and Hard Ball, a 2001 drama set in near-west Chicago.
However, while Illinois is a famous filming location for this genre, game movies are shot all over the world. So how accurate are they? In this article, we’ll explore the best and worst portrayals of the game in movies.
Fiction versus non-fiction
Although it has existed since the 18th century, bingo games did not explode in popularity until the 1960s when theaters began to appear across the United States. Since then, the game’s popularity has fluctuated. Over the past five years, however, it has been on a slope for a variety of online bingo games like Cube 2, Rainbow Riches and Temple Tumble have been added to online platforms. This resurrection comes from the ease of online gambling (eg no transport costs), but also because the platforms offer players many options, such as playing for real money or just for fun.
We’ve yet to see this transition depicted in Hollywood movies, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t movies that have capitalized on gambling. One of the most accurate depictions of bingo in Hollywood is found in the 2009 film Rampage. In an understated bingo scene, a gunman calmly walks through a bingo hall in full armor as the announcer calls out the numbers .
The accuracy comes from the fact that Rampage filmed the scene in a real bingo hall with real players, not actors. It also touches on the immersive nature of the game, as the majority of real gamers didn’t notice the actor. At the end of the scene, Williamson calls a number and the player’s reactions are real.
Bingo contributes to the growth of the online gambling market projected CAGR growth 11.94% from 2021 to 2026, but on screen games like blackjack and poker take precedence. Unfortunately, not all of these films are accurate. For example, in Rain Man, there is an infamous blackjack scene where Raymond Babbitt continually wins. Although there are realistic elements, some actions Babbitt takes would not hold up in a real game, such as hitting 18 when the dealer showed a four.
Finally, Rounders (1998) is an example of a film that attempted to portray poker accurately. The writers did a lot of research beforehand, and Edward Norton and Matt Damon visited several underground poker rooms during filming. When Damon gets a bad or a good hand, his reactions are linked; the audience can imagine feeling similar in this situation.
Unless it’s non-fiction, movies are expected to spread the truth about the accuracy of the situations they depict. Rain Man may have won Best Picture in 1989, but the game scene wasn’t a step-by-step on how to play blackjack. Still, many movies stay close to the line, including Rampage and Rounders.
Featured Image Credit: stokpic via Pixabay