That The Gambler was released at Christmastime (after premiering at the AFI Fest) suggests that Paramount expected the Academy to take notice. In return, they got middling reviews (just 47% on Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing) and unremarkable financial returns. It’s at once fitting and a bit unfortunate.
Unfortunate, because it’s not a bad film. It’s pretty well-directed, the acting is solid, and on the whole, it’s a decent watch. Fitting, because it wastes most of its cast, adds up to little, and ultimately shows no reason for existing (and because it plays into some tiresome stereotypes, but we’ll get back to that). It’s not a bad film. It’s just not that good either.