From the very first episode, The Simpsons has felt the influence of the gambling lifestyle (it’s how they acquired Santa’s Little Helper after all), but while it rarely take the forefront, the writers have at times done a great job of representing the pros and the cons of casino life from the show-y Las Vegas style casinos to the modern online experience you get at places like casino.paddypower.com
In Viva Ned Flanders, before they make a few comically poor decisions while under the influence, Homer and Ned have quite a lot of fun travelling around Vegas with Homer showing Ned how to really enjoy life. Naturally, they stop by a casino and Ned inadvertently offers a lucky number which Homer promptly bets money on and wins big. It’s a surprise for both of them but Homer, in true Simpsons fashion, doesn’t make the most of their winnings and decides to choose the next number with predictable results.
Of course, we can’t really talk about The Simpsons and Casinos without bringing up the beloved $pringfield (or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling) episode. In it, Mr Burns opens his own casino in the heart of Springfield and the casino lifestyle gets steadily lampooned the whole way through. Complete with Vegas style shows ranging from a parody of Siegfried and Roy to a slightly less competent magic show from Milhouse right through to Robert Gould singing “Jingle Bells” when Bart tricks him into performing at his treehouse. They even capture the joy of a jackpot when Homer manages to lose everyone game when he works as an incompetent Blackjack dealer, as well as somehow triggering jackpots everywhere he goes in the casino later in the episode.It might not be the main theme of the episode, but it does a decent job showing the fun you can have.
Homer’s lack of awareness when it comes to Blackjack is a recurring joke in the show, coming up in a fictional flashback in Brother from the Same Planet where he manages to hit all the way to 21 and then keeps going. But this isn’t the only time that Blackjack has been the focus of an episode. In the more recent Sky Police, after Chief Wiggum flies his jetpack into the church (the later episodes have gotten… a little weird) Marge leads a few members of the congregation to the casino to utilise card counting so they can pay for the repairs. The show gives a decent explanation of how to use the technique and methods to win while also drawing attention to how it’s not illegal or even cheating.
After Homer’s disastrous performance so far, you might be surprised to hear there’s at least one game he’d be amazing at, though he never plays it in a casino in an episode. In Secrets to a Successful Marriage, Homer manages to utterly dominate his friends in a friendly poker game purely down to his incredible poker face. Which, admittedly, is down to him being too slow to really work out how good his hand is.It might come as no surprise but as good as Homer would be, Lisa proves far more adept in Gone Abie Gone. After the dubious decision to store Lisa’s college fund on an online poker site, Lisa ends up gambling the money stored there so she can afford a better college. She does this by reading books written by the experts and using the best tactics she can to get almost a million dollars. Although she still ends up losing it after one risk too many, Bart manages to help her salvage the funds (though they are ‘back to square one’ when the site discovers they were both playing while underage)