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From New Vegas to Red Dead: The Best Casinos in Video Games


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Thanks to game development studios like Rockstar Games and Obsidian Entertainment, gamers today can take the occasional short break from the standard gameplay action to experience playing virtual casino games like poker, blackjack, and slot machines.

The creative departments at certain major studios have added this exciting element to some of their games, such as Red Dead Redemption 2 (RDR2), Fallout: New Vegas, and Grand Theft Auto V.

Here is a closer look at why some companies choose to add traditional mini casino games (aka games within games) to some of their triple-A games. 

Why do video game development studios add casino emulators to some of their hit titles?

It’s simple. The creative teams like to mix things up for players, and one of the best ways they have found out how to do this is to add games within games. 

The ones they have found that players enjoy playing more than any others are classic traditional table & card games, especially poker, and classic fruit machines (aka one-armed bandits). 

In short, casino games in video games are fun, and there’s no risk involved because it’s not gambling. 

You can typically play on a video poker or slot machine or cards against an NPC dealer (AI-generated dealer/croupier non-player character) or against one of the main NPC characters from the game. 

The only difference between playing at the simulated casinos found in Xbox and Playstation video games and regular online casinos or land-based casinos is that you can’t actually win any real money playing video game casino games. 

Instead, you can play them for fun, to increase your health/energy, boost your in-game currency/score, or complete specific in-play achievements/tasks. It’s different in each game. 

Mini casino games that allow players to simulate the experience of playing in a real bricks-and-mortar casino or online casino are risk-free because they’re not considered gambling. 

For those looking to branch into the real world, being informed is key. Casino.org ranks the best UK slots for those British players who have spent enough time in New Vegas, and want something a little more tangible. Just make sure to be responsible, as your in-game currency won’t be accepted here.

Slots, poker, and other casino-style games commonly found in today’s most famous video games are usually only ever added to PEGI-18 age-restricted titles because the developers who make these games don’t want to encourage minors to gamble. There’s also strict guidelines surrounding this.

What other games feature casino scenes/elements? 

As you’d guess, it very much depends on the game. While Western drama Red Dead Redemption allows you to gamble, a game like Bunhouse obviously will not. However, you don’t usually need to go far to find a casino-inspired scene or in-game mechanic to enjoy, whether you’re fond of a classic card game or a spin of the slots. Here are a few more AAA titles that feature something inspired (loosely or not) by the world of casinos.

  • Yakuza Series:
    Multiple instalments of the Yakuza series, like Yakuza 0 and Yakuza 6, featured playable casino games and gambling parlours. Plenty of gamers have become so absorbed in these dens that they get distracted from the main storyline, at least for a while…
  • Hitman Series:
    Several Hitman games, such as Hitman: Blood Money and Hitman 2, had missions set in or around casinos. This is a classic element that runs through most of the franchise, and it’s likely a lot of long-standing fans would be sad to see it go (if it ever does).
  • Watch Dogs 2:
    The hustle and bustle blockbuster action of Watch Dogs 2 has attracted a strong audience. It’s a futuristic, hi-tech title that doesn’t neglect the everyday down-to-earth elements of life. This open-world action game had a playable casino area with mini-games like poker and slot machines.
  • L.A. Noire:
    This detective game had a case set in a casino, allowing players to explore and investigate the casino environment. Upon its release L.A. Noire was heavily praised for its realism and compelling dialogue – making it one of the most cinematic experiences a gamer could have – and don’t worry, it’s aged well. 2024 is still a good time to play L.A. Noire.

Final thoughts

Casinos and the surrounding culture have become a huge pillar of many modern-day video games. From the glitz of Vegas to the seediness of an illegal backroom card game, games lap up the surrounding aesthetic. 

While some don’t like it and some are ambivalent, it’s safe to say it’s here to stay. With smash hits like Red Dead Redemption 2, and cult classics like Fallout: New Vegas having significant casino culture in them, it won’t be going anywhere soon.

TXH loves nothing more than kicking back at the end of the day, controller in hand, shooting the hell out of strangers via Xbox Live.

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