The music industry and the casino industry go hand in hand. Not only does Vegas allow both to live harmoniously, but they also work in tandem to boost the profile of celebrities and artists in residence across the Strip. Many artists – from Harry Styles to Halsey and Britney Spears – have tattoos alluding to dice, roulette, and other casino-related imagery. Countless songs allude to the casino – but how accurate are these depictions of what Vegas is really like?

Photo Credit: PixabayPhoto Credit: Pixabay

Luck as a Theme

Frank Sinatra may be the first place your mind goes when thinking of a singer who sang about the casino. The sensational singer’s persona involved living an exciting, fast lifestyle, which regularly included visits to casinos. His crooning was almost the audio version of the casino lifestyle. So, Luck Be a Lady Tonight was a natural depiction of his life.

The hit musical Guys and Dolls featured the track, sung in the 1955 film by Marlon Brando. The song was integral to the plot, which involved playing dice games and a bet between Brando and Sinatra's characters. In terms of authenticity, luck could be applied to the casino. There is an element of luck present across a swathe of games – notably roulette.

Poker Attributes in Songs

Lady Gaga’s 2008 hit Poker Face may be the best use of poker imagery in a song. The track merges the idea of needing to keep a ‘poker face’ and not reveal how your game is progressing with needing to keep one in matters of the heart to protect yourself. Indeed, authenticity is present here as the game and many aspects of life can benefit from being taciturn.

Similarly, Aerosmith’s 1994 hit Deuces are Wild uses the idea that the singer loves the woman in question because her ‘deuces are wild.’ This means that the ‘2’ cards can be used as substitutes for everything. So, the metaphor in the song could refer to the idea that he loves this woman because she is adventurous and enthusiastic about life – everything to her could be a high card. The song may overstate the importance of the card but is fairly accurate in how much of a game-changer it could be. 

Are There Some Major Differences?

Kenny Rogers’s The Gambler (1978) tells a tale of a gambling man and focuses on the idea that you have to ‘know when to fold ‘em.’ Many casino games call for elements of strategic thinking too. While songs are often written deterministically, many casino games rely on strategic thinking and the ability of the player themselves. Rogers alludes to this ability in his song, and it is possibly understood more for those who play, especially those who play online.

The online casino offering of blackjack, for instance, provides different levels of difficulty depending on the games chosen. The selection of blackjack games to play online incorporates European Blackjack, Live Blackjack, and even Single Deck Blackjack, each of which requires a different element of the strategic thinking and skill needed to play the game effectively. Each one places the important decisions in the hands of the player. So, unlike music, which implies a level of determinism, real casino games utilise the free will of players a lot more.

The casino industry and the music industry have far more similarities than many would believe. Music often incorporates themes from the casino world because they are readily understood and can be used as apt metaphors. While songs rarely talk about the strategy needed in some table games such as blackjack, they represent a sensationalised view of the casino world and not a realistic one. Overall, most songs about Vegas and the casino draw on real-life experiences and are accurate portrayals of the industry.