4 Great Rock Songs About Casino Gaming

4 Great Rock Songs About Casino Gaming

Because rock stars are perceived as living life on the edge, there's a natural tie between their lifestyles and the thrills and risks of casino culture. Rock bands have sold out shows in Vegas and other major resort areas around the world for decades. Also, many have been known to engage in the sort of vices that often grip visitors to these areas, such as booze, drugs, intimate encounters, and, of course, gambling. 

Given all this, it's probably only natural that over the years gambling subject matter has found its way onto a lot of tracks written by major rock stars. Sometimes gambling language is used metaphorically, and sometimes to tell actual stories of casino encounters or gaming addiction. But in either fashion, it may be a more common theme than you ever realized. 

These four examples illustrate the point. 


"The Jack" is perhaps best known as one of the slowest songs in AC/DC's extensive library of music, at times almost as much of a blues song as a piece of rock. It's also a track that makes thorough use of gambling metaphors, specifically with regard to a deck of cards. And in this case, "the jack" apparently referred specifically to the venereal disease Gonorrhea (which wasn't much of a surprise to Australians who use the term as slang for the disease anyway). According to this breakdown, the song is about a time in the band's history in which they were living with some very "friendly" women, and one in particular spread "the jack" from one band mate to another. Outrageously, frontman Bon Scott even claims to have pulled said woman up on stage during a performance to explain the whole story! 

O.A.R. - "That Was A Crazy Game Of Poker"

Considering your viewpoint on where the rock genre ends, you may not really consider O.A.R. to be a part of it. Regardless, they're somewhere on the fringe, and "That Was A Crazy Game Of Poker" is one of the most explicitly casino game-related songs out there. Song Meanings has hosted some lively debate about what the song is actually about (even though it pretty literally walks the listener through a game of poker for the first few minutes), though one article confirmed a while back that the story within the song had to do with vocalist Marc Roberge's obsession with the Stephen King novel The Stand


"Oh, there's blackjack and poker and the roulette wheel, a fortune won and lost on every deal..." This song is the quintessential anthem of Las Vegas, where the King of Rock 'n Roll reigned supreme. And really, it's a pretty straightforward song, as opposed to one shrouded in metaphorical meaning, and it's a nice reminder of what draws people to the city. One has to wonder what Elvis might think of the casino industry today now that the Cirque du Soleil can be as popular as a rock show, and casino games online are as big a draw as on hotel floors. In fact, all the games, perks, and vices that Elvis recognizes in this song exist online, right down to neon lights and animated characterizations of the mythical "Lady Luck." Even some of the VIP rooms in which the King undoubtedly lounged about are now imitated in online casinos, with one going so far as to design a digital "Champagne Room!" All things considered, "Viva Las Vegas" is a brilliant gambling song because all these years later, it's heartfelt and nostalgic. 


In addition to being one of the Stones' more obscure and unique songs, "Casino Boogie" is also one of the most fascinating gambling-related tracks in rock history. Referring back to Songfacts, which cites a 2010 Uncut Magazine interview with Mick Jagger, the song came about during the band's famous "Exile" period in the south of France, specifically inspired by frequent trips to the casinos in Monte Carlo. That in and of itself is a pretty interesting little story for one of the world's greatest rock bands, but it gets even better: if you've ever noticed that the lyrics for this song are so haphazard they basically make no sense, it's because, as Jagger admitted, it was written "in cut-ups." The band wrote down individual lines and picked them out of a hat to determine the order in which they'd appear in the song. So, basically, it's a song inspired by gambling that was created using pure, unbiased chance. 

There are additional rock songs that relate to the gambling experience and casino gaming, but these four all illustrate the connections that rockers have so frequently had to casino culture. Whether through experience, adoration, or the simple attraction to popular metaphors, our greatest rockers always seem to come back to this subject matter.