If someone was to say to you to picture the casino lifestyle, you would most likely conjure up images of someone who’s smartly dressed, wearing expensive jewellery, and is smart enough to beat the house. While not strictly a kind of lifestyle, per se, casino culture is often thought of as one for the upper-class, either those with too much money or VIPs with the intellect to swing games in their favour – even though the odds are always against the average player. Still, this isn’t the actual picture of casino culture in the modern day.
The classic view of casino culture
If there’s one place in the world that continues to uphold the aesthetic and lifestyle implication of classic casino culture, it’s Monaco. The sovereign city-state is an infamous billionaires’ playground, with the annual Monaco GP, which proved pivotal in this year’s Formula One, showcasing just how rich you need to be to live or even visit. Of course, the most famous venue here is the casino. Casino de Monte-Carlo, in Place du Casino, is quite simply a gambling palace. So stellar and classically upper-class is the venue that it’s even worth taking a tour around to experience classic casino culture at its pinnacle. Origins of many of the still most popular table games originate from France, heavily influenced by the aristocracy of the nation’s capital.
Back when it was rising to prominence, the entertainment medium was very much one for the wealthy. This aesthetic and depiction of casino life have further been enforced by western cinema, primarily because filmmakers want to relay glitz, glamour, and an exciting aesthetic when the story takes them to a casino. Listed as one of his best films, Martin Scorsese’s Casino (1995) very much leans into the high-rollers and casino takes in a sparkling establishment. Another film with a more refined, suave approach is that of Croupier (1998), available to buy online from Apple TV, the Clive Owen neo-noir thriller surrounds the protagonist surrounded by the rich, cash, and tuxedos.
Casinos have opened their doors to the masses
With changing times and more savvy business owners, the casino scene has become much, much more accessible. In fact, the 2009 comedy The Hangover, which is set in Las Vegas, shows two of the lead three characters come into a casino in almost full suits – missing ties. While this was a reference to the multiple award-winning Rain Man (1988), suits are certainly unnecessary or expected in casinos anymore, which includes the big-name venues on The Strip that are hyped for their classy aesthetics. Much of this has come from all forms of gambling becoming more accessible. The primary driver of this in recent times has been the rise of the online casino. Regardless of where you are or what you’re wearing, you can play slots and table games. In fact, with the advent of live casino games, you can get the authentic casino experience streamed to your device for real-time play.
While the atmosphere and experience can’t quite be replicated through the internet, gaming and gambling certainly can, meaning that those who don’t think that they can enter a casino can just get their entertainment online. Now, Las Vegas casinos are classed as public venues, and for many, there isn’t a dress code beyond common decency. VIP sections may require you to dress the part, but to enter and play games, weather-appropriate attire tends to be fine. Online platforms have similarly helped to open up other seemingly exclusive entertainment mediums, too, with the National Theatre offering unlimited access to the finest of British theatre.
Availability also changing attitudes towards gambling
Over the last decade, alongside the rise of online gambling and trust in the entertainment medium, people’s attitudes towards gambling as a whole have shifted. It’s gone from it being for society’s most affluent to a common form of gaming. In fact, while millions of people go to China to visit the Great Wall, which you can see some superb art of here, millions of Chinese tourists will head to the southern coast and the former Portuguese colony, Macau. Now the gambling capital of the world, its mostly-Chinese customer base generates six times the revenue of Las Vegas – which has more than triple the number of casinos at 144 to 41.
However, it’s not just in China’s sole gambling haven that the classic games have been able to become more accessible. In the US itself, online betting and gambling have long been outlawed, leaving Las Vegas and a clutch of Native American-run venues to appease the nation. However, after the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Provision Act 1992 in 2018, states leapt at the chance to offer sports betting, with many adding online casino play into their new online industries. In 2021 alone, Pennsylvania – one state that permits online casinos to operate – generated $1.1 billion from internet gambling, with the total being $2.6 billion.
Casino culture has changed tremendously over the last few decades, and particularly over the last ten years, with the entertainment medium becoming far more accessible than its famed depiction would suggest.