Images of Gambling in Film

About the Course:

This article examines the depiction of gambling in recent films. Often gambling is portrayed either very positively or very negatively. The authors found eight overlapping themes represented in these movies: (1) pathological gambling, (2) the magical skill of the professional gambler, (3) miraculous wins as happy endings, (4) gamblers are suckers, (5) gamblers cheat, (6) gambling is run by organized crime, (7) the casino heist, and (8) gambling as a symbolic backdrop to the story. These themes suggest that the portrayal of gambling in movies has a number of interesting distortions. The discussion centers on how these distortions have an impact on efforts to accurately disseminate information about gambling to the general public.

Journal/Publisher:

Journal of Gambling Issues

Publication Date:

Issue 20, June 2007

Authors

Barry Fritz; Masood Zangeneh; Nigel E. Turner

About the Authors:

This article is dedicated to the memory of Barry Fritz (1940 – 2004) (Ph.D., psychology, Yeshiva University, New York, NY) who passed away before he could finish this article. He was professor of psychology at Quinnipiac University, Hamden, Connecticut. He was a member of the board of the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling. Barry wrote, “My current research interests are focused on understanding the motivation to gamble and those factors that differentiate problem gamblers and recreational gamblers. I enjoy the game of poker and hope that my research will keep me on the recreational side of the table.”

Masood Zangeneh is a research associate at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. He is also a part-time professor of consumer psychology at the Centennial College. He is currently working on several quantitative and qualitative projects in the area of problem gambling. He is also Editor-in-chief of eCOMMUNITY: International Journal of Mental Health & Addiction.

Nigel Turner (Ph.D., cognitive psychology, University of Western Ontario, 1995) wrote his dissertation on the psychology of figurative language. He has worked at the Addiction Research Division of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health for the past 10 years where he has developed psychometric tools to measure addiction processes. He is currently focused on understanding the mental processes related to gambling addiction. He has extensive experience in various research methods including psychometrics, surveys, experimental studies, computer simulations, interviews, and focus groups.

Recommended For:

This course is recommended for health care professionals, especially addiction counselors, psychologists, mental health counselors, social workers, and nurses who seek knowledge about images of gambling in film. It is appropriate for all levels of participants’ knowledge.

Course Objectives:

  1. Describe how social learning theory might explain the effect of gambling images in film on societal gambling behavior.

  2. Discuss the methodology of the published study and how films were selected for inclusion in the project.

  3. Identify the eight common and overlapping themes found in the movies examined and discuss how the gambling distortions represented may impact the public’s view of gambling behavior.

Exam Questions

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