A Tale Of Luck & Love –
The Rocky Relationship
Between Music & Casinos

Source: "Online-Pokern" (CC BY 2.0) by wuestenigel

The worlds of rock music and casino games have often collided in the most spectacular of fashion. Think of the “Ace of Spades” and you are just as likely to think of the thundering Motorhead song of the same name as of the playing card it celebrates. Think of the phrase “Poker Face” and an image of pop sensation Lady Gaga is likely to pop into your head rather than one of a random player hiding behind shades at a poker tournament. But what it is about the world of gambling that has sat so comfortably with songwriters and musicians around the world throughout the decades?

The concepts of chance, luck and randomness are key themes in many rock and pop songs and many of those subjects are just satellites revolving around the central topic of love. Love is the gravity that powers much of modern rock and pop music and when discussing all things love related, analogies related to chance, such as casino games, can be useful tools for any songsmith.

The toss of a dice, the turn of a card, the spin of a roulette wheel - all these images can be used to express the part that chance or fate plays in love and life. Music video directors can use such images to portray those joyous moments where love conquers all or those unlucky moments where the hand of love did not quite play out as expected.

But not all lyrics about casinos have to be subtle or obscure. When Elvis Presley sang Viva Las Vegas, there was little in the way of analogy, just a pure celebration of all things gambling related. Songwriters Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman managed to shoehorn references to poker, dice, blackjack, roulette as well as slot machines into the two minute and 24-second tune. But despite all the gambling references, the song still manages to describe the protagonist as a man with love to spare fully aware that there are a thousand pretty women waiting out there.

Back then, of course, punters had no choice but to head to exotic, often faraway locations to take part in such gambling fun. Today, they can simply log on to an online site such as 32Red Casino to enjoy a full range of table games and even play live casino games with real dealers, including baccarat, blackjack and roulette on webcam. So songs about Las Vegas or Monte Carlo no longer hold such glamorous appeal. However, concepts related to games of chance and the casino environment have shown no sign of being dropped from the music video world. Recently, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry and many other contemporary music stars have continued to use casino themes in their lyrics and music videos.

Of course, it’s not just casino games that have made their way into the world of music and popular culture. Big hit TV shows, musicals and movies have all found their way into the online casino world on websites such as the aforementioned 32Red Casino or 21.co.uk. Slot machine fans can play Game of Thrones, Tomb Raider, Jurassic World or Phantom of the Opera before trying their luck at the live online casino games.

This crossover perhaps emphasizes another point. That music and casinos are all part of the world of entertainment where visual and sonic stimulation combine to enhance the experience of the consumer. Where there is a movie or a TV show, there is a theme for a game. Where there is a game, there is a theme for a song. And where there is a song, there is a video to be made.

Perhaps the first video to truly utilise the casino table theme was “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers, released way back in 1978. However, that poker-based video might look a little different had it been made today, perhaps with Rogers logging on to an online casino from the comfort of his hotel room before calling room service for another bottle of whiskey.

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