Online slots in movies and TV- Spinning entertainment

There are flashy lights, exciting sounds, and a chance for big payouts gamblers and non-gamblers alike. The earliest slot machine cameos was in the Marx Brothers comedy “Horse Feathers” in 1932. Groucho Marx performs the song “Everyone Says I Love You” while interacting with an imagined slot machine, pulling the lever and lining up the reels. Slot machines also made brief appearances in later Marx Brothers films like “A Night at the Opera” and “A Day at the Races.”

Slots took center stage in the 1988 comedy “Rain Man” starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman. Hoffman plays Raymond Babbitt, an autistic savant with incredible mathematical abilities who can instantly calculate odds. In a famous scene set in a Las Vegas casino, Raymond helps Charlie (Cruise) win $86,000 on a slot machine by recalling the machine’s spins. The 1990 Martin Scorsese film “Goodfellas” features a subplot surrounding Karen Hill (Lorraine Bracco) and her habit of compulsively playing slot machines while her mobster husband Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) is in prison. In one scene, a fade-to-black time passage shows an extreme close-up of slot reels spinning and stopping over and over, representing Karen’s descent into slot machine addiction and isolation.

2001’s “Ocean’s Eleven” remake shows the gang planning their elaborate Las Vegas casino habawin   heist with slots featured in the background. In one comedic scene, Brad Pitt’s character Rusty Ryan teaches Topher Grace’s character about playing slots, advising him to play the slot machine closest to the door because that’s where casinos want to draw people in. Another scene shows the characters talking while nonchalantly playing slots and winning jackpots. Slots show up in sitcoms too, like the 2006 “Seinfeld” reunion episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” titled “The Reunion.” In one plotline, Jerry Seinfeld (played by him) becomes addicted to a slot machine game on his smartphone. No matter where he is, Jerry can’t stop compulsively spinning the slots on his phone screen.

On a more recent sitcom, TBS’s “The Detour” had an episode in 2017 called “The Slot” chronicling the misadventures of husband and wife Nate (Jason Jones) and Robin Parker (Natalie Zea) on a road trip to Las Vegas. A gas station slot machine shorts out while Robin is playing it, causing chaos as money starts shooting out of the machine. Nate and Robin scramble to grab as much cash as they can before the gas station owner realizes what is happening. Online and mobile slot games have also started popping up in movies and TV. In the pilot episode of HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” Erlich (T.J. Miller) clicks away at a virtual slot machine on his smartphone screen, much to the annoyance of his young app developer housemates. A 2017 episode of the Netflix show “Love” shows Gus (Paul Rust) zone out playing online slots in his apartment, chasing his losses.

As slot machines have evolved from mechanical boxes to digital games available anywhere, their prominence in media has also grown. Slots may show up on the big screen, small screen, and even phone screen as a way to portray gambling addiction, Las Vegas extravagance, math whizzes gaming the system, or comedic hijinks around scoring a big jackpot. One thing’s for sure – with colorful icons, names like “Wheel of Fortune,” and the chance for instant riches, slot machines will likely continue spinning their way into movies and TV shows for years to come.

Thomas Wardlow

Thomas Wardlow