Gambling is never far from the lips of anyone who mentions the USA. The art of taking a chance to win big has captivated the minds of many people across the world due to its frequent depiction in cinema and literature, and also on the small screen.
Books, movies and television series may not be what most people think of when the word art is mentioned, but the literary and cinematic arts have been the biggest cultural exports from the USA for decades. The famed writer, journalist and pop culture icon Hunter S. Thompson immortalised gambling and its related sins in the infamous novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. If the book wasn’t enough to cement his name in history, the film adaptation of the book, starring Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro, and directed by Monty Python alumnus Terry Gilliam, did much to establish this tale of drug abuse and idealism as a cult classic.
Gambling, especially in Las Vegas, is synonymous with the mafia. Mario Puzo must get credit for his vivid depictions of a crime family in his novel The Godfather, which was adapted into the most highly regarded gangster film of all time. Quite unsurprisingly, one of the family members is a Las Vegas casino owner. The Godfather spawned a host of other famous gangster movies, such as Goodfellas, and also the legendary TV series The Sopranos.
In The Sopranos, the family man and mafia capo Tony Soprano is seen as a bad guy who gradually softens up, and becomes a good man. He is deeply flawed, though, and this makes him one of the most interesting characters ever portrayed on the small screen. As his conscience starts to bother him more and more, he somehow turns to gambling as the series progresses, and turns into quite an addict, despite his losing streak.