Casino Explained


After the success of Goodfellas, a movie starring De Niro and Joe Pesci that reworked familiar mobster narratives, Scorsese went to work on Casino, a movie that would use its star power to examine gambling’s nefarious underbelly. The result was a bravura set piece, and one that made the mob seem as out of touch with the modern world as a popped eyeball or a well-edited torture-by-vice sequence.

Casino is a place where various gambling games are played, and it has a wide range of luxuries to attract patrons, such as restaurants, free drinks and stage shows. Most casinos are run by private companies, investors or Native American tribes and provide billions in revenue each year. Some are huge resorts, while others are smaller card rooms or even table-game machines found in bars, truck stops, and some grocery stores.

While a casino’s games are mostly pure chance, most have an element of skill, such as blackjack and video poker, which require the player to make strategic decisions. Nevertheless, the odds are mathematically determined and always give the house an advantage over the players, known as the house edge.

During the 1990s, casinos dramatically increased their use of technology. For instance, some table games are outfitted with chips that have built-in microcircuitry to allow the casino to monitor the amounts wagered minute-by-minute and spot any deviations. Elaborate surveillance systems also provide an eye-in-the-sky view of the entire casino, and the payouts of slot machines are controlled by computer chips to ensure that they do not change over time.