Casino Rewrote the Rules of Vegas and Made the Mob Less Powerful


Casinos are a lot more than just gambling halls. They offer top-notch hotels, spas, entertainment and great restaurants. They are also a magnet for people who are looking for an adrenaline rush. This stimulating environment, combined with the dopamine boost that comes from gambling, often puts people in a good mood.

Even when they are losing money hand over fist, people walk around smiling and enjoying themselves at the brightly lit tables. They do not feel like they are in a financial hole because they have not yet spent more than their bankroll can afford to lose. This is how casinos keep us from leaving. They change our cash into colorful chips that disassociate the gambling with spending actual money, and they manipulate sounds, lighting and physical design to keep us gambling longer.

In the center of all this is the protagonist, Ace (Robert De Niro) and his mobster rival Nicky (Joe Pesci). Ace is a smart man who operates by the book and thinks of himself as a morally upright gangster while Nicky lets anger guide most of his decisions.

The supporting cast is equally impressive, from the thugs to the wisecracking croupiers and pit bosses. Most of the key characters are mired in violence and greed, but Sharon Stone catches our attention as Ginger, a seductive whore who prides herself on her ability to keep a man entertained. Casino rewrote the rules of Vegas and made the mob less powerful, but Scorsese’s film isn’t just about mobsters and their fall.