A casino is a gambling establishment that houses a variety of games of chance. Some casinos also have restaurants, free drinks and stage shows to attract visitors. The word “casino” is used worldwide to refer to this type of entertainment. The first casinos were built in Nevada, but the industry became popular throughout the United States when Iowa legalized riverboat gambling and Atlantic City established itself as a tourist destination.
In a casino, patrons wager money on various games of chance in exchange for cash or comps (free goods and services). A casino’s mathematical expectancy guarantees that it will generate a profit no matter the outcome of any one game. As a result, high bettors are often offered luxury inducements like free show tickets, hotel rooms, limo service and airline tickets.
Scorsese’s ambivalence about the exploitation of the human condition is evident in Casino, which ends with Ace watching his old stomping grounds morph into a Disneyland-like family attraction and lamenting that “the town will never be the same.” But despite bravura set pieces and judicious use of sound design to highlight the aural brutality of mob violence, Casino is less a celebration of the glitz of Vegas than it is a cautionary tale of institutionalized systems of graft.
Sam “Ace” Rothstein (De Niro), a Jewish American expert handicapper and crook for the Chicago Outfit, manages the day-to-day operations of the Tangiers Casino in Las Vegas. His relationship with Ginger McKenna (Stone) and his connection to mobster Nicky Santoro (Pesci) become strained as he struggles to maintain control of the casino.