- Last Updated: Thursday, 02 April 2020 04:31
Since the late ’90s, British filmmaker Louis Theroux has built a reputation for capturing thought-provoking documentaries on everything from survivalists to porn stars.
In 2007, he set his sights on the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas with the documentary titled Louis Theroux: Gambling In Las Vegas.
Documentaries about casinos, sports betting, and gambling are nothing new. Louis aims to go deeper to find out why people still go to, in his own words, “neon-lit super casinos intent on taking people’s money.”
To achieve this, he sets up his camera in the luxurious Las Vegas Hilton following the lives of gamblers and the army of workers that keep what was once the world’s largest casino flowing with money. We get to meet colorful characters like the smooth-talking “super-host” Richard, the Canadian businessman and high-roller Alan, and the dedicated slot machine regular Martha, while under the perspective of Louis’s signature stare.
Initially, Gambling in Las Vegas revealed nothing that many of us did not already know, or at least expect, from the most famous gambling haven in the world.
The fact that gambling can be addictive is not a surprise either. As the documentary progresses, we start to get a glimpse into the lives of the people who call the casino their second home, though.
Many of the documentary’s subjects appear to have unlimited funds, which they are all too happy to spend.
Alan, the self-described “mattress king” from Toronto, arrived at Las Vegas in a private jet ready to spend $250,000 or more during his stay. Even his frivolous spending habits are nothing compared to Martha’s, though.
She’s a retired doctor who’s spending her savings chain-smoking and playing the slots (similar to those at 918kiss) all day. According to her, she’s lost up to $4 million gambling for the last seven years, much to her son’s dismay. She’s still in good spirits, though, hoping to recoup her losses with one big jackpot.
Another fascinating aspect of the documentary is the employees of the Hilton, particularly those who serve as hosts to the richest clientele.
Richard, one of the casino’s top hosts, prides himself at being able to say yes to all his clients just to get them playing and spending more at the tables. The idea that his clients could potentially suffer from disastrous losses doesn’t faze him.
The story culminates with Louis’ own gambling story. While interviewing a pair of salesmen, he wondered whether they could be his gambling mentors.
It eventually led to Louis, armed with $3,000 of his own money, plunking chips at the baccarat table. Luckily he was left with $4,500 and a smile on his face, which could not be said for most of the other people that he met in Vegas.
Louis capped the show with a conclusion that people become “willing victims” of casinos that are persuaded to play but not strong-armed to do so.
It points out that while many of the players have traveled from all corners of the world to Vegas, no one is holding a gun to their heads. So, while the Gambling in Las Vegas may not surprise or challenge one’s perception of casinos, sports betting, or gambling in general, his affable approach to people, open questioning, and moments of awkward silence make for great, introspective entertainment.