A casino is a place where games of chance are played and gambling is the primary activity. The word itself is a combination of Latin and French, meaning “to throw” and “to risk.” Casinos may add other amenities to help attract customers, such as restaurants, free drinks, stage shows, and dramatic scenery, but they are defined by the gambling activities that take place in them.
As businesses, casinos are designed with profit as a main goal. They succeed by encouraging people to gamble and stay longer for the chance of winning money. They compete not only with each other but with non-gambling resorts, online gaming and private gambling. They also face competition from an illegal gambling business that is much larger than the legal one.
Casino is a film of greed and corruption, but it also illustrates the human need for thrills. In the end, even though it features the fall of mafia kingpin Ace Rothstein, there are no good guys in this story of power and revenge.
Casino is a liminal movie—not between Victorianism and Modernism but between organized crime and finance. It captures the rough blur of corporate capitalism antiseptically displacing organized crime and unions, and it shows how the mafia can still play a role in this process. It’s a fascinating film and a must-see for anyone who has ever wondered how Vegas got the way it is today.