The lottery has always been a great source of fun, excitement, and entertainment, no matter how you view it. Playing the lottery responsibly can be a good investment and necessary for survival. The planning, the commitment, and the anticipation, in waiting to see if you have the winning ticket and what happens after you win, is all part of the whole nine yards.

Playing the lotteries is like putting money in the stock market, there is no absolute certainty that the outcome will be as anticipated (stocks crash, stakers and bettors lose), the audacity of hope! Most times with gaming, the anticipation of winning beats the excitement of the actual winning. All these emotions (the good, the bad, and the scary), are often captured on screen, through feel-good, or on the edge of your seat gambling-themed movies.

The gaming industry has always had an influence on the movie industry. Hollywood has been making gambling-themed movies right back to 1919, with movies like Lottery Man. They are still churning out commercially successful lottery-themed movies to date, both fiction and non-fiction.

Bollywood has also made quite some interesting and successful gambling movies, that have received global acclaim, but we are yet to see any such movies from Nigeria even Africa as a whole, especially when one considers the growth of the gaming industry in the continent.

Maybe it’s a lack of interest or insight born out of religious inhibitions, outdated legislations, and low acceptance of lotteries in African countries in the past; but truly the times have changed.

The whole explosion of the gaming industry and the wide acceptance of gaming as a way of life have opened more doors of opportunities especially for the movie industry in Nigeria. One will think that Nollywood; a self-acclaimed 3rd world’s largest film industry in terms of output and reach, would have latched on to this trend by now to produce content-rich and nerve-wracking gaming-themed movies that will draw more attention to our fast-growing gaming industry globally, while entertaining the public. (We will leave the story for another time).

Find out my 15 top global lottery-themed movies.




This compilation of lottery/gaming movies is my all-time favourite, if you are looking to have a feel of the industry or just some excitement; check them out if you haven’t already.

  1. Molly’s Game: (2017) This movie starring Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba, is based on a true story of a 26-year-old Molly Bloom, an Olympic champion who after retiring early due to an injury, got sucked into the world of poker gaming, with consequences. The dialogue in this movie is simply great.
  2. 21: (2008) this is another movie based on real events. It follows the story of 6 MIT students taught by their maths professor to count cards. They cashed out millions of dollars in blackjack winnings from casinos in Las Vegas. Power, greed, suspense, mob; the whole ingredients, for on the edge movie. Played by Kevin Spacey, Jim Sturgees.
  3. Lottery Ticket: (2010) Fast paced and hilarious as well. Common! with Bow wow and the rap gang, what do you expect. A struggling guy living in the projects found himself with a $370 million winning ticket, the only snag is that the lottery office is closed for the 4th of July weekend. He will just have to survive from his unscrupulous neighbours that are after his winning ticket, until Monday.
  4. Waking Ned Devine: (1998). A man played the lucky numbers and ended up dying out of shock when he won $7million. His friends in the village devised plans to claim the winnings for themselves by pretending that Ned was still alive; until a lottery inspector lands on Ned’s doorstep. .
  5. High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story (2003). This is another true story based on Stu the world-famous poker player who won 3 major tournaments of world series of poker and how he lost most of his winnings on horse racing betting. Played by Michael Imperioli
  6. It can Happen to You: (1995) This is a feel-good movie about integrity and keeping promises. It is actually another movie based on a true story. A police officer who couldn’t give a waitress a tip, offered to split any winnings he makes on his lottery ticket. It turns out that the ticket won $4 million dollars. The story follows his quest to fulfil his promise to the waitress, with his wife doing e everything to stop him.
  7. Casino (1995) Classic movie and well executed. Well with Robert De-Niro, Joe Pesci, Sharon Stone…what more can one say. Based on a true story about a Las Vegas casino operator with mob connection who lived a normal life on the surface, until trouble in the form of a friend from the past, lands in his town. This movie has it all.
  8. Lucky Numbers: (2000) Inspired by the Pennsylvania lottery scandal in 1980. The movie starring John Travolta and Lisa Kudrow is about a struggling celebrity weatherman convinced by his friend to rig the lottery. He enlists the help of a young woman who works at the lottery office. The rest is watched not imagined.
  9. Ocean’s Eleven: The star-studded movie follows ringleader, Danny Ocean and a team of high-risk-takers who want to execute one of the most elaborate casino heists in history. This movie will keep you on the edge of your seat with its cast, turns, and twists. George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia etc.
  10. Two for the Money (2005) A former college football star who has a knack for picking winners, joins a sports consultant who runs a sports betting hotline, to handicap football games for high rolling gamblers. Al Pacino, Matthew McConaughey, Rene Russo (based on a true story)
  11. Bookies: Four college students from California got tired of losing money on sports bets they have been placing with local mobsters, so they decided to start their own bookmaking business. Johnny Galecki, Nick Stahl, Lukas Haas, John Diehl
  12. Teen Patti: (Bollywood) starring Amitabh Bachan. The movie resembles 21 in its plot and characterization. An unconventional maths professor enlists 3 of his star pupils and taught them card skills. With disguises, they cleaned out Mumbai’s illicit card game. Then enters the mob and the story changes. Nerve wracking and exciting, well its Amitabh!
  13. Jannat: (Bollywood 2008). A street-smart youngster seeking a quick buck, steps up from playing small-time card games to become a bookie & a runner for the mafia when he meets a girl. It was a huge commercial success and an internationally acclaimed movie.
  14. Furkrey 1 & 2: (Bollywood) 4 boys did everything imaginable including going against a local gangster until they finally win the lottery and changed their lives.
  15. Luck: (Bollywood) staring Sanjay Dutt and Imran Khan. When two men who consider themselves to be individually, the luckiest men in winning the lottery, meet one another; they decided to create a game in which they ask lottery players to participate and the luckiest of them, wins it all.


Immaculata Mbaso

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