Casino – How Casinos Work


It’s happened to all of us: You stride into the Luxor, Mohegan Sun, or Tropicana brimming with confidence, wallet in hand, and plans for an hour or two of enjoyable, sensible gaming and perhaps a couple rounds of cocktails. But then you realize it’s been hours, maybe even a whole day, and you have no idea how much money you’ve spent or what the hell happened to your bankroll. That’s how casinos work — using sounds, lights, and physical design to manipulate you into spending more money than you intended.

The great thing about Casino is that, unlike most other movies that feature the desert city, it doesn’t just show us the glitz and glamour; it also tells you how they work. A pair of dazzling set pieces – with deliberate echoes of Goodfellas’ Copacabana interlude — open the movie, followed by an unflinching depiction of an institutionally structured system of grift, with deceptions, manipulations, and kickbacks at every turn. And at the center of it all, a masterful performance from Robert De Niro.