Imagine this: You stride into the Luxor, Mohegan Sun, or Tropicana brimming with confidence, wallet filled with cash, and plans for a little bit of enjoyable, sensible gambling and maybe two rounds of drinks. Hours later, your wallet is empty and you’re still in the casino, lost in a sea of lights, sounds, and physical design that’s intentionally crafted to lure you into spending more money than you had intended to. The house always wins. How do casinos make otherwise rational people — the kind who work hard for their income and make reasoned financial decisions on a daily basis — throw hundreds or thousands of dollars away based on a roll of the dice, spin of the wheel or draw of the cards?
Scorsese’s refusal to draw a line between depiction and endorsement of the mafia is the heart of Casino. The film is violent, gruesome and unapologetic, but its depiction of greed, treachery and human tragedy resonates with audiences. It also helped propel the career of Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, and it paved the way for Quentin Tarantino and other millennial filmmakers who follow in the director’s footsteps.